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Comic Relief

The Comic Relief charity organization was founded in the United Kingdom in 1985 in response to famine in Ethiopia. It now raises money for Africa and disadvantaged people in the United Kingdom.

The organization was launched live on television on Noel Edmonds' Late, Late Breakfast Show on BBC1, on Christmas Day 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan. Initially funds were raised from live events the most notable being a comedy revue at the Shaftsbury Theatre, in London, which was subsequently broadcast on television on April 25, 1986.

Table of contents
1 Red Nose Day
2 Comic Relief charity singles
3 Types of nose and amounts raised by Comic Relief
4 Criticism
5 Comic Relief in United States
6 External links

Red Nose Day

Red Nose Day is the main way in which Comic Relief raises money. It is held in the spring every other year and is often treated as a semi-holiday, with, for example, schools having non-uniform days. The crux of the whole thing is a live television event on BBC1 all evening, but other money-raising events take place, some official, others just people getting their friends to donate money if they sit in a bathtub full of baked beans all day.

As the name suggests, the day involves the wearing of plastic red noses, which are available, in exchange for a donation, from many shops. There are also larger noses designed to be attached to the fronts of cars or even buildings. The design of the nose has been changed each year, beginning with a fairly plain one, which later grew arms and legs, changed colour and even turned into a tomato. See the table below.

The TV programming begins in the afternoon, with Children's BBC having various related reports, money-raising events and a celebrity gungeing. This is all in-between the regular programmes, but come the evening show, after the six o'clock news, the normal schedule is dumped in favour of a live show, with each hour overseen by a different celebrity team. These celebrities do the work for free, as do the crew, with studio space donated by the BBC.

The first "Red Nose Day" was on February 5, 1988. The TV show was hosted by Lenny Henry, Griff Rhys Jones and Jonathan Ross. In April 1986 the first Comic Relief charity single was released. it featured Cliff Richard and the cast of The Young Ones in a rendition of Living Doll.

In 2001 the total raised on Red Nose Day was in excess of £55million. As well as donations on the night of the TV show money is raised from countrywide sponsored events and from merchandising, particularly of the red noses themselves. In 2001 5.8 million red noses were sold, approximately one each for 10% of the UK population. The most recent "Red Nose Day" was held on March 14, 2003. The fund raising activities for included Lenny Henry providing the voice of the speaking clock between March 10 and March 23 with the cost of the call going to Comic Relief. On the night of the live show itself, £35m was raised, an on-the-night record. Organisers expect the final total to exceed the 2001 total.

More than £210 million has so far been distributed to projects by Comic Relief. Administrative costs are covered by corporate sponsors to ensure all public donations are passed on to the supported projects.

Comic Relief charity singles

Some of the money raised from the sale of each of the following was donated to Comic Relief. Normally a song is released to just before a Red Nose Day. There have been exceptions, such as (I want to be) Elected which was released to coincide with the 1992 UK general election. Before 1995's song, they were all more-or-less comedy records, mostly involving an actual band or singer and a comedy group. From then on, until 2003, they were generally more serious.

Release DateTitleArtistsHighest chart position reached
April 1986
Living Doll Cliff Richard and the cast of The Young Ones No. 1
December 1987
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree Mel & Kim (Mel Smith and Kim Wilde) No. 4
February 1989
Help! Bananarama & La Na Nee Nee Noo Noo (French and Saunders with Kathy Burke) No. 4
March 1991
The Stonk Hale and Pace (backing band includes David Gilmour) No. 1
April 1992
(I want to be) Elected Smear Campaign (Bruce Dickinson, Rowan Atkinson, Angus Deayton) No. 9
February 1993
Stick It Out Right Said Fred and friends No. 4
March 1995
Love Can Build A Bridge Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton No. 1
March 1997
Mama / Who Do You Think You Are the Spice Girls No. 1
March 1999
When The Going Gets Tough Boyzone No. 1
March 2001
Uptown Girl Westlife No. 1
March 2003
Spirit in the Sky Gareth Gates and the Kumars No. 1

Types of nose and amounts raised by Comic Relief

Source notes. The 'amount raised' figures from 1988 to 1999 are taken from[1]. Note that that site has not been updated since before 2001 for which it lists an estimated figure. The 2001 and 2003 figures are from various sources. The nose type description have been compiled by looking at pictures of the event found on the web for 1993-2003 and from memory for 1988-1991.

YearAmount raised : on the night (£mn)Amount raised : total (£mn) Type of red nose
1988Unknown15.8 Plain red nose.
1989Unknown26.9 Smiley face with spiky hair embossed onto otherwise normal red nose.
1991Unknown20.3 The nose had arms.
1993Unknown18.0 The nose became a tomato. The larger noses for cars and buildings looked like tomatoes thrown against the wall and were called splats.
1995Unknown22.0+ The nose changed colour (from red to pinky-purple or yellow) when heated - holding in a closed hand was enough.
1997Unknown27.1+ The nose was furry.
1999Unknown35.0+ The nose made a squeaky noise when squeezed.
200122.0+55.0+ The nose had a tongue - a small rolled-up tube of latex that would unfurl and make a raspy noise when the nose was squeezed.
200335.0+Unknown The nose had styable hair.


There has been some criticism of Comic Relief, in particular red nose day.

Comic Relief in United States

Inspired by the British charity, a United States Comic Relief charity was founded in 1986 by Bob Zmuda.

Comic Relief is an annual event, televised on HBO, that has raised and distributed nearly $50 million toward providing health care services to homeless men, women, and children throughout the United States. Comedianss Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg are hosts of the event.

External links