Comic Relief is a charity committed to helping end poverty and social injustice.


They tackle this by:

  • raising money from the general public by actively involving them in events and projects that are innovative and fun.

  • informing, educating, raising awareness and promoting social change.

  • allocating the funds we raise in a responsible and effective way to a wide range of charities which we select after careful research.

  • ensuring that our Red Nose Day fundraising costs are covered by sponsorship in cash or in kind so that every penny raised goes to charity.



Lenny Henry


Lenny Henry



Why is the charity called Comic Relief ?


Comic Relief was set up by comedians and uses comedy and laughter to get serious messages across, as well as making sure that everyone can have some fun at the same time. Over the years, more than 2050 celebrities have given their time and talent to Comic Relief, you name 'em, they've helped us. From Lenny Henry, Billy Connolly, John Cleese and Jerry Springer to Johnny Depp, Ali G, Davina McCall, Robbie Williams, Steve Coogan, Paul Whitehouse, Whoopi Goldberg and Woody Allen. Top comedy teams who've given us a lorry-loads of laughs while helping us raise a lot of cash include the League of Gentlemen, The Fast Show and Smack the Pony.



Red Nose Day


Red Nose Day is a UK-wide fundraising event organised by Comic Relief every two years which culminates in a night of extraordinary comedy and moving documentary films. It's the biggest TV fundraising event in the UK calendar. On Red Nose Day everyone in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is encouraged to cast inhibitions aside, put on a red nose, and do something a little bit silly to raise money - celebrities included. It is an event that unites the entire nation in trying to make a difference to the lives of thousands of individuals facing terrible injustice or living in abject poverty.


Beyond Red Nose Day


Most people know us as the organisation behind Red Nose Day, and have probably done something outrageous to help us raise Red Nose money, but Comic Relief does loads of other stuff, too. From Fair trade to Debt Wish and from Robbie the Reindeer to Robbie Williams, we've got our fingers in loads of pies, so make sure you check out the rest of the site to find out what we get up to.


Every single project Comic Relief support is helping poor and disadvantaged people in the UK , Africa or the world's poorest countries to turn their lives around and make positive changes in their communities.


Since Comic Relief began, the've made nearly 6,000 grants worth over £210 million. Over 4,600 of those, totalling more than £75 million, have been to projects working across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Over 1,200 totalling over £130 million have been to projects working in Africa. Recently, we've also made 28 grants totalling over £2.6 million to projects working in some of the poorest countries around the world.


Comic Relief continues to spend money at home in the UK because across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, there are both individuals and whole communities, struggling to overcome poverty, disadvantage or injustice.

  • Disabled people are still being denied equal rights

  • Every year thousands of women and children are forced to flee violent homes

  • Young people continue to live and work on the streets and some are exploited for sex

  • Teenagers experience problems with drugs and alcohol

  • Older people are too easily written off and denied opportunities to participate in society

  • People living in deprived communities do not have the resources to make the changes they need and want to make

  • People arriving in the UK in search of freedom and safety are often met with hostility and prejudice

  • Thousands of people experience discrimination because of the colour of their skin, their culture or their sexuality.

Many of the people facing these challenges have few opportunities to make positive changes to their lives. Their voices go unheard and many just don't have access to the resources, support and services they really need. Many are powerless, excluded from participating in society and forced to live on the margins. We want to help them win their fight for the justice they deserve.


Over the years, we have seen so many people throughout the UK turn their lives around and change the future of their communities in the face of adversity. We have been overwhelmed and inspired by their spirit, strength and determination, and their capacity to make the very most of Comic Relief cash.








Comic Relief 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 UK. It was launched live 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 Shaftesbury Theatre in London which was subsequently broadcast on television on 25 April 1986.



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 day culminates in a live television event on BBC1 starting in the evening and going through into the early hours of the morning, but other money-raising events take place.

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, turned into a tomato and even changed colour. See the table below.


The first "Red Nose Day" was on 5 February 1988, which raised £15 million. The TV show was hosted by Lenny Henry, Griff Rhys Jones and Jonathan Ross. 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.



On television



Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor


Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor and Julia Sawalha as Emma

in 1999's Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death




The television 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 after the six o'clock news, the normal schedule is suspended 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.


Regular themes throughout the shows include parodies of recent popular shows, films and events and specially-filmed versions of comedy shows. Smith & Jones and a parody sketch starring Rowan Atkinson are both regularly featured – the first being Blackadder: The Cavalier Years (1988).



1999 event


Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, a parody of the Doctor Who series starring Rowan Atkinson as The Doctor, was featured during the show.



2001 event


In 2001 the total raised on Red Nose Day was in excess of £55 million. 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.

Jack Dee won Celebrity Big Brother.



2003 event


The 2003 "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. A total of £61 million was raised that year, setting a new record.

Jack Dee stood outside at the top of a pole for the duration of the show, parodying the acts of David Blaine.



Billy Connoly in Mozambique


Billy Connoly in Mozambique



2005 event


The 2005 Red Nose Day was held on March 11 and was hosted by a collection of television stars:

  • Chris Evans

  • Lenny Henry

  • Davina McCall

  • Graham Norton

  • Dermot O'Leary

  • Jonathan Ross

The 2005 event was also noteworthy for supporting the Make Poverty History campaign



Shows included


As usual a variety of specially-filmed versions of television shows were made. Popular BBC talent show Fame Academy was attended by celebrities singing cover versions of songs – viewers voted for their favourite with the proceeds going to the cause and the celebrity. 



Other shows included:


Little Britain

My Family

The Vicar of Dibley


Spider-plant Man, a parody of Spider-Man starring Rowan Atkinson, was also featured.



Donation progress


Times approximate and amounts rounded to the nearest million where not stated exactly:

  • 7:30pm - £2 million

  • 8:30pm - £7 million

  • 9:30pm - £18 million

  • 10pm - £22 million

  • 11:30pm - £30,503,394

  • 12:45am - £35,325,862

  • 02:00am - £37,809,564

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 description of noses was obtained from a history of the nose at [2] (




Amount raised : on the night (£m)

Amount raised : total (£m)

Type of red nose




Plain plastic red nose.




Plain red nose with 'MY NOSE' on the front. The nose also contained a mild scent.




Also known as "The Stonker" (Named after that year's Comic Relief single), The nose had arms and a face.




The nose became a tomato with a face. The larger noses for cars and buildings looked like tomatoes thrown against the wall and were called splats.




The nose changed colour (from red to pinky-purple or yellow) when heated - holding in a closed hand was enough.




The nose was furry.




The nose made a squeaky noise when squeezed and also glittered.




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.




The nose had red stylable hair.




The nose had multi-coloured hair made from rubber strands, a funny face and came with stickers to add additional facial features. It was packaged with red hair gel and red/yellow face paints.



Comic Relief charity singles


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".


Some of the money raised from the sale of each of the charity singles (details follow) was donated to Comic Relief. Normally a song is released to just before the official Red Nose Day.


There have been exceptions, such as "(I want to be) Elected" that 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 2005, the charity singles were generally more serious, although the videos still feature comical moments.



Release Date



Highest 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


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

May 1994

"Absolutely Fabulous"

Pet Shop Boys, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley

No. 6

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"


No. 1

March 2001

"Uptown Girl"


No. 1

March 2003

"Spirit in the Sky"

Gareth Gates and the Kumars

No. 1

7 March 2005

"All About You/You've Got A Friend"


No. 1

14 March 2005

"Is This the Way to Amarillo" †

Tony Christie & Peter Kay

No. 1



† - "Is This the Way to Amarillo", though released expressedly with the intent of proceeds going to Comic Relief, is not an official Comic Relief single.




On October 5, 2004, the Burma Campaign UK criticised Comic Relief for its association with the multinational DHL, a partner of Myanmar Post and Telecom. John Jackson, head of Burma Campaign UK, noted that they were aiding war victims in Rwanda while funding the military regime in Myanmar.


In March, 2005, several Catholic schools in South Wales were banned from supporting Red Nose Day by church leaders because of claims that money raised would fund abortions in Africa. Reports of this were denied by other church leaders.


Similar events outside the United Kingdom


In the United States


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


Comic Relief is an irregularly held 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. Comedians Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Whoopi Goldberg are hosts of the event.


In Australia


A Red Nose Day, without a related television programme is held each year in Australia to raise money to research the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.





Helping relieve poverty




What do Comic Relief fund in Africa?


The continent of Africa has huge potential but it also has huge needs. Poverty and disadvantage are widespread and profound. More than 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living on less than $1 a day, and millions have no access to clean drinking water, sanitation, health care, education or safe housing. According to the United Nations Human Development Index, the 20 poorest countries in the world are all in Africa. Aid to Africa from rich countries has fallen by 40% over the past 10 years, and commercial investment in Africa is very low compared to other regions.


Many people in Africa work incredibly hard to try and change things, to build better, more secure futures for their families and communities. But debt, drought, unfair trade rules, AIDS and war all prevent people from realising their aspirations.


In Africa, as in the UK, there are some groups of people, such as women and disabled people, who are more disadvantaged than others. They find it harder than most to fulfil their potential, to access services to meet their basic needs, or to obtain their fundamental rights.


Comic Relief have developed an international grants programme because we have started receiving money from all over the world from fundraising projects other than Red Nose Day. Sales of two special ‘Harry Potter’ books written by JK Rowling for Comic Relief have already generated several million pounds through worldwide sales and it only seems right that this money should have a wider spread than just Africa.


As a result, we will use this money to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in some of the poorest countries across the world. Many children and young people face terrible poverty, discrimination and neglect. They are often forced into activities that are dangerous and prevent them from reaching their potential. The money raised will give practical help to provide protection, education and training. We will also support work that helps children and young people to get their voices heard and their rights recognised, so others don’t have to suffer what they have.



The facts speak for themselves:

  • 600 million children live in poverty.

  • 125 million primary-school-age children are not in school.

  • 120 million children between five and 14 work full time and a further 130 million work part time.

  • 300,000 child soldiers are actively fighting in 41 countries throughout the world.

  • Between 1993 and 1996 45% of victims of war were children.

  • In the 1990s war and conflict made 12 million children homeless, 4 million were maimed or became disabled, and 10 million witnessed acts of brutality.

  • 34.7 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.

  • 2 million children are involved in prostitution.







More Comic Relief links











A H Rahman



Alanis Morisette

Alison Kraus

All Saints

American Idol

American Music Awards

Amy Macdonald

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Annie Lennox


Arctic Monkeys

Atomic Kitten

Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend


Band Aid

Backstreet Boys

Babra Streisand

Barry Manilow

Barry White

Bay City Rollers

Beach Boys


Billy Joel

Bing Crosby

Black Sabbath - Ozzy Osbourne


Bob Dylan

Bob Geldof

Bob Marley & Wailers

Bon Jovi

Boney M

Boyz II Men

Brenda Lee

Britney Spears - Shaved

Bruce Springsteen

Bryan Adams

Bucks Fizz

Buddy Holly



Celine Dion

Charles Aznavour

Charlotte Church


Cheeky Girls

Chemical Brothers

Childrens Songs

Christina Aguilera - Basics

Christina Milian

Chuck Berry

Cindy Lauper

Cliff Richard


Comic Relief

David Bowie

Def Leoppard

Depeche Mode

Destiny's Child

Dire Straits

Dixie Chicks

Dolly Parton

Donna Summer

Duran Duran

Earth Wind and Fire

East Magazine - Eastbounre

Eddie Arnold

Elena Paparizou - Eurovision

Elkie Brooks

Elton John

Elvis Presley


Enrique Iglesias


Eurovision Song Contest


Events - Tents - Moroccan


Fleetwood Mac

Flipp's - Pop Funk collection


Frank Sinatra

Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Laine

Garth Brooks

Gary Numan


George Michael

Geri Halliwell

Girl Bands

Girl Groups

Girls Aloud

Glade alternative music festival


Gloria Estefan

Grace Jones

Grammy Awards

Grant Navy Fireman

Groove Armada

Guns and Roses

Gunther + Sunshine Girls

Gwen Stefani

Haircut 100

Hank Thompson


Her Name in Blood



Iron Maiden

James Blunt

James Morrison

Janet Jackson

Jean Michel Jarre

Jennifer Lopez

Jessica Simpson

Jethro Tull

Jimi Hendrix

Joel White

John Denver

Johnny Cash

Johnny Mathis

Joni James

Joss Stone


Juan Thyme

Julia Figueroa

Julio Iglesias

Justin Timberlake

Karaoke    A - Z of UK venues

Kate Bush

Kate Nash

Katie Melua

Kenny Rogers

Kristina Bradford

Kylie Minogue - cancer

Led Zeppelin

Lily Allen

Linda Ronstadt

Lionel Richie

Live Aid

Live Earth Concerts

Live 8

Louis Walsh

Luciano Pavarotti


Madonna - Films and Video

Mama Hoochie Bang

Mando - Manto

Mariah Carey


Max Jasper - Mezzowave




Michael Bolton

Michael Jackson

Mireille Mathieu

Modern Talking


My Chemical Romance - Networking

Nat King Cole

Natasha Bedingfield

National Anthems

Neil Diamond

Nelly Furtado




Olivia Newton-John

Paris Hilton

Patti Page

Pearl Jam

Perry Como

Peter Waterman

Petition the Prime Minister

Petula Clarke

Phil Collins


Pink - Pink Orchid Ltd

Pink Floyd

Pop Idol

Pop Music



Reading Music Festival

Record Companies

Record Producers

Ricky Nelson


Robbie Williams

Rod Stewart


Roxy Music

Rule Britannia



Shania Twain

Sharon Osbourne

Simon Cowell

Simply Red

Snoop Dog


Spice Girls

Stars in Their Eyes


Stevie Wonder

Sting - The Police

Stock Aitken Waterman SAW


Terry Wogan

The Bangles

The Beatles

The Bee Gees

The Brit Awards

The Carpenters

The Clash

The Doobie Brothers

The Doors

The Eagles

The Jacksons

The Pussycat Dolls

The Ramones

The Rolling Stones

The Royal Canadians

The Seekers

The Sunshine Girls

The Ventures

The Who

The X Factor

The X Factor 2005

The X Factor 2006

Three Dog Night


Tina Turner





USA For Africa

Van Halen

Vibes From the Vine - Concert 06

Vicky Leandros

Victoria Beckham

VW tour bus - Sunshine Girls

Wei Wei

Whitney Houston

Wicked New Year Party - Alps 07


World Idol

X Factor Battle of Stars

ZZ Top




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