They say that laughter is the best medicine and amidst the current lockdown some charitable cheer is definitely needed – so when is Red Nose Day and Comic Relief?
The biennial comedy show special regularly attracts big celebrity names to entertain families whilst raising vital funds for the charity Comic Relief. Over the years we’ve seen a mini Love Actually sequel and Catherine Tate’s “Am I bovvered?” Lauren take on former PM Tony Blair. Plus, who could forget Peter Kay and Toni Christie singing Is this the way to Amarillo?
Though socially distanced this year – you can still show your support for the charity by donating or purchasing a Red Nose, as well as watching along at home on the night.
So what can we look forward to this year? Where does your money go and how did it all begin? We reveal all you need-to-know about Red Nose Day and Comic Relief…
When is Red Nose Day and Comic Relief 2021?
Red Nose Day 2021 is on Friday 19th March.
This year’s event is all about the power of humour and reuniting the country through comedy, whilst raising funds to help those who have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stars such as Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch have signed up as supporters and models of the new red noses. Now 100% plastic free and plant-based, this year’s red noses celebrate the great outdoors. Children and adults can collect all 10 characters including animals like a squirrel and a badger.
As for the Friday night entertainment, the BBC One telethon will be headed up by hosts Alesha Dixon, Davina McCall and Paddy McGuiness. Viewers can expect a Vicar of Dibley special, with Dawn French returning as Reverend Geraldine Granger. Whilst David Tennant and Michael Sheen have come together to film a special of their series Staged.
The charity has also launched a campaign to help get households smiling. Share a Smile encourages people to write and display their favourite joke in their window. The best ones will be scoped out and shared on Red Nose Day – both online and throughout the day on CBBC shows and the flagship Friday night programme.
“Red Nose Day will be different this year. We know that it’s hard financially for so many people right now, but we’d love you to join us – even if it’s just to share a laugh,” says Comic Relief co-founder and comedian Sir Lenny Henry, who will make an appearance on the night.
“If we raise some money along the way then brilliant! We know that when times are tough, laughter can really make a difference.”
When was the first Comic Relief?
Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by screenwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Sir Lenny Henry. The charity was initially set up in response to a huge famine in Ethiopia. It has since evolved to raise money for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa.
Though the first Red Nose Day wasn’t till 1988 – there was a big fundraising evening held two years prior in April 1986. This included British comedy stars like Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly and Steven Fry.
1986 also saw the release of the first Comic Relief single. Singer Cliff Richard was joined by the cast of The Young Ones to re-record his hit Living Doll. The single reached Number One in the UK charts and all proceeds were donated to the charity. Other stars who recorded a Number One single for Comic Relief include the Spice Girls, Cher, Westlife and Sam Smith.
In December 2001, the charity announced Sport Relief. Alternating years with Red Nose Day, the biennial event encourages people to get active with their fundraisers for Comic Relief.
Stars from the world of sport also appear with comedians in sketches for Sport Relief’s telethon. Past skits include James Corden as Smithy (from Gavin and Stacey) coaching the England football team in a one-off TV special.
When was the first Red Nose Day?
The very first Red Nose Day was televised on BBC One on Friday 5th February 1988. 30 million viewers tuned in to watch a special of Blackadder and characters of The Young Ones take on University Challenge.
The event featured over 150 celebrities and comedians and raised £15 million in total.
Red Nose Day 1988 also featured the original red nose – a simple plain red ball that founders Sir Lenny Henry and Richard Curtis wanted to symbolise their charity. Over the past 32 years, sales of the Red Nose alone have raised over £70 million. 75p from every Red Nose purchased in 2021 will go directly towards Comic Relief.
In addition to the iconic Red Nose, TKMaxx also sells Comic Relief’s limited edition t-shirts. This year’s tops feature beloved Disney Pixar characters like Toy Story’s Woody and Jessy, Nemo and Dory from Finding Nemo and a t-shirt with Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc. Available in kids and adult sizes – at least £2.50 from each sale goes directly to Comic Relief.
How much has Red Nose Day raised in total?
Red Nose Day (and Sport Relief) has raised over £1.4 billion for Comic Relief. 2021 marks a special anniversary for the charity as they celebrate 35 years of fundraising.
Money raised from Red Nose Day is through a mixture of public donations, sales of red noses, merchandise and fundraisers.
One of Comic Relief’s biggest celebrity fundraisers began in 2009 when a group of 10 music and TV stars climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Made up of musicians such as Gary Barlow and Cheryl Cole, the challenge raised £3.35 million for the charity.
Over the years, other celebrities have trekked Africa’s highest mountain for Comic Relief. In 2019, Little Mix stars Jade Thirwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock joined eight others on the challenge. Their efforts helped secure donations for the 2019 recorded total of £63,548,668.
To date, the biggest total ever raised during Red Nose Day was recorded in 2011 as £108,436,277.
Where does the Red Nose Day money go?
This year all Red Nose Day donations will go towards helping vulnerable people who have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity has promised the money will help to tackle issues such as homelessness, domestic abuse and mental health problems – with the number of people affected by them having risen considerably during coronavirus.
“Money raised will support some of the most vulnerable people and communities in society who have been hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, including those now reliant on food banks, and provide vital funding to under resourced front line charities as they adapt and navigate through these difficult uncertain times,” Comic Relief says.
You can make a donation through the Comic Relief website which tells you how your money is spent. For example, £35 pays a teacher to educate 4-6 year olds in Kenya and support their health and well-being.
Since Comic Relief began money has gone towards helping 14.3 million people across the UK and 91.3 million people internationally.