Do Something Funny For Money!
I’ve talked about my British best friend several times before on this blog, but today you get the treat of an actual post by Michelle! She took on a topic that I know next to nothing about: Comic Relief and Red Nose Day.
If you happen to find yourself in Britain during the third week of March this year, you’d be forgiven for thinking we had all lost our minds. Adults wandering the streets with red noses that look like dinosaurs, anybody and everybody in random costumes and people taking a bath in baked beans in the local supermarket!
But worry not, this just the way we raise money to help disadvantaged people across the UK and Africa. This is Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day!
What is Comic Relief and Red Nose Day?
Comic Relief is a British charity founded by scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in 1985, in response to the famine in Ethiopia. Comic Relief’s big appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon (alternating years with it’s sister charity, Sport Relief). Red Nose Day this year is Friday March 15th on BBC One, but there’s a whole bunch of fundraising (or “fun-raising”) all over the country and special red nose day episodes of some well loved TV Shows. Basically, we all buy and wear silly red noses, eat a cake for a good cause and sit down in front of our TV’s and watch a marathon comedy event until the early hours and donate some money when they show the sad videos that make us cry! 2013 is the 25 year anniversary, so it’s gonna be a big one!
What’s Going On?
Well, there are three TV Shows that have done special RND series. The first was The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief. The regular show is a bunch of wannabe bakers crying and stressing to impress the scary and awesome judges (Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood) with each task. The RND special is the same but with celebrities, BBC Radio 4’s Martha Kearney won (I don’t know who she is either). The second is Great British Menu Does Comic Relief, this is a show where some fancy chefs compete for the chance to create a banquet for some high profile guest, in this case that guest is Red Nose Day. This is one the public can take part in too, a number of restaurants are donating money from dishes or having RND themed menus. The third show is probably to help you work off all your interpretations of the recipes featured on the first two, Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, a celebrity dance competition!
As well as TV specials. there are celebrities doing challenges for sponsorship. Miranda’s Mad March starts on Monday March 11th and will feature comedian Miranda Hart attempting 5 different challenges each day in 5 different UK cities. If you can find a way to watch any RND stuff, this one would be my pick. Other challenges happening are Helen’s Magnificent 7, where TV presenter Helen Skelton attempts 7 big fundraising challenges over 7 weeks. You can watch the first four here. And there was Hell and High Water where a bunch of celebrities battle the Zambezi (and survive) for sponsorship. You can watch some clips here.
There is much more going on, plus fundraising events happen all across the country with celebrities, big companies and us normal folk too. If you wanna check out some of it, you can do so here.
The non-tv based big money spinner is the Red Nose Day song. This year it fell into the hands of those boys we just can’t seem to get rid of, One Direction. They have done a cover of Blondie’s “One Way or Another”. I’ve not yet listened to it so I’ll only silently judge (I can tell you it’s not as good as 2011’s single though)! You can watch them perform it at the Brits right here though.
Give It Up!
This year, Comic Relief are taking a leaf out of Children in Need’s book (Children in Need is our other annual big fundraising telethon for, well, children that are in need) and are holding a live music and comedy gig. Hosted by comedian Russell Brand and featuring music from Kasabian, Noel Gallagher, Paloma Faith, Jessie J and Nick Grimshaw and comedy from Jason Manford, Eddie Izzard, Jimmy Carr, Simon Amstell and Frankie Boyle (plus more). It should be a good one, it’ll be on BBC Three at 10pm (GMT) tonight, March 6th, so get in touch with your internet savvy friends to hook you up with a live stream!
The Serious Stuff
Red Nose Day is a great unofficial holiday that brings communities together and brings us extra episodes of some of our favourite shows. But it isn’t just for our entertainment, there’s a deeper reason behind it all. The money raised each year is used to help and support people in the UK and Africa. In the UK, the money goes towards helping young people that live on the streets, protection for those living with domestic abuse, drug & alcohol abuse support, support for young carers and more. In Africa, the money goes towards protection from malaria, providing vaccines, support and care for those affected by HIV & AIDS, fair trade and more.
Now, there are many valid criticisms of Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, but criticisms aside the whole thing always raises a lot of money for inherently good causes. In 2011 the total raised was over £100million and it’s likely they’ll smash that total this year (they always do).
The Day Itself
Red Nose Day is Friday 15th March at 7pm (GMT) on BBC One. It’s hosted by the ever charming Dermot O’Leary and Claudia Winkleman, and will include hosting appearances from Alan Carr, Lenny Henry, Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon, John Bishop, David Walliams and more. The telethon runs until the early hours of the next morning and will have a variety of famous guests, special performances from unlikely performers, music and comedic mini-episodes of TV shows. There will also be plenty reminders of why we’re here and how we can donate.
Can I Watch?
It’s not a serial or anything like that so you won’t find it on Netflix or in a DVD box set. To watch RND you’ll need to find a BBC live stream. If you’re a British TV fan (as you’re here, I’m assuming you are!) it’s definitely worth watching if you can, you’ll see specials of some of your favourite shows you wouldn’t normally see and appearances of some of your favourite British and Irish comedians. Just note there will likely be a plethora of celebrities you won’t recognise, but don’t worry, most Brits won’t either!
While you’ll have trouble finding whole recordings of previous telethons, you’ll have no issues finding clips of TV specials on youtube and DVD specials. There’s a lot to wade through, but if you liked the show you’ll love the special.
My Recs on What to Watch
- Doctor Who: The Curse of the Fatal Death - From 1999’s Red Nose Day. This special Doctor Who episode pits The Doctor (played by the British household names Rowan Atkinson, Richard. E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley) and Emma, his companion (played by BBC’s Pride and Prejudice’s Lydia aka Julia Sawalha) against The Master (played by Jonathan Pryce). This episode, though a parody, was a gateway to the revival of the classic show in 2005 and was in fact written by the now lead writer, Steven Moffat. A must watch for any Whovian.
- The Catherine Tate Comic Relief Show - From 2007’s Red Nose Day. The Catherine Tate Show is a sketch show and this Comic Relief special is some of my favourite material from it! It features the well GIF-ed sketch where Lauren Cooper (played by Catherine Tate, the then companion of The Doctor, Donna Noble) terrorises her new English Teacher (played by David Tennant, the then Doctor. Yes, it always comes back to Who). And the same character, Lauren, butting heads with then Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
- Barry Islands in the Stream - From 2009’s Red Nose Day. A special from Welsh comedy Gavin & Stacey and also the RND single for that year. Nessa and Bryn head off to a karaoke final and Las Vegas where they meet Tom Jones. Of course!
- Smithy to the Rescue - From 2011’s Red Nose Day. We Brits just really love Gavin & Stacey okay! One of my favourite sketches Smithy saves Red Nose Day amongst a plethora of actual famous people. Just watch it!