Marking the 25th anniversary of Red Nose Day with a fantastic night of television, this year’s Comic Relief – Funny for Money entertained the UK whilst raising a record breaking sum of money to help poor and vulnerable people in the UK and Africa.
As the evening on the BBC drew to a close £75,107,851 had been raised – the highest total reached on the night in Red Nose Day’s 25 year history.
Included in the overall total is £10,512,406 raised by Sainsbury’s through their range of must-have merchandise for Red Nose Day, including of course the Red Nose itself, as well as hundreds of Sainsbury’s in store products which have carried a small donation to Comic Relief. Not to miss out on the action, Sainsbury’s employees across the country have been busy doing something funny for money.
“Once again the extraordinary generosity of the British public has put Comic Relief in a position to be able to serve thousands upon thousands of people with very hard lives in Africa and the UK,” said Richard Curtis. “It’s almost impossible to thank enough all those who took part in the event, all the members of the public who fundraised and all those who gave so generously on the night.”
TK Maxx has raised £3,730,385 through the sale of Stella McCartney designed t-shirts and a range of Emma Bridgewater designed homeware, as well as through staff having a whole heap of fun raising cash through stores across the country.
The overall total includes money raised by this year’s two BT Red Nose Challenges. The BT Red Nose Challenge: Hell and High Water, saw six white water daredevils – Dara O’Briain, Melanie C, Jack Dee, Chelsee Healey, Phillips Idowu and Greg James – complete a dramatic five day challenge as they travelled down Africa’s almighty Zambezi River raising £1,196,788, with £150,000 of that pledged by BT. The BT Red Nose Challenge: Miranda’s Mad March saw Miranda Hart complete a week of madcap challenges across five major cities in England, raising £1,140,615 with £350,000 of that pledged by BT.
BT handled 458,000 calls to the donation line during the live TV show, peaking at 200 calls per second. BT coordinated over 10,000 volunteers at 147 call centres across the UK.
British Airways has also raised £2,001,025 this Red Nose Day through onboard collections, colleague fundraising and breaking a Guinness World Record for the highest concert in the world.
The UK Government has backed the public’s support for this year’s Red Nose Day with £16m towards the overall total, specifically for Comic Relief’s work to improve the lives of women and girls in Africa. This contribution by the Government matches pound for pound Comic Relief’s own commitment to funding in this area.
Hosting the UK’s biggest telethon on the BBC were Michael McIntyre, Rob Brydon, John Bishop, Zoe Ball, Lenny Henry, Davina McCall, Jack Whitehall, Russell Brand, Nick Grimshaw, Jonathan Ross, David Walliams, Dermot O'Leary and Claudia Winkleman.
Comic Relief – Funny for Money (BBC One & BBC Two) was packed with pure comedy gold with highlights including:
- A Call the Midwife special, with the cast causing chaos in a modern day ‘One Born Every Minute’ delivery room.
- International music mogul and TV producer Simon Cowell walked down the aisle in front of a close-knit circle of celebrity friends and acquaintances, only to marry himself.
- Smithy delivered a rallying cry to the nation about the importance of fundraising for Comic Relief.
- Will Ferrell returned to screens as San Diego’s favourite Anchorman ‘Ron Burgundy’ in a one-off sketch recorded especially for Red Nose Day.
- Peter Kay's Stand-Up Sit-Down for Comic Relief saw the comedian travel from Belfast to London, in what was ‘the most gruelling’ Red Nose Day challenge to date.
- After a 10 year break, Slough’s most famous salesman David Brent returned to screens with a Red Nose Day special – The Office Revisited.
- David Walliams shared an intimate a secret with a number of celebrities he had become close to over the last year including Kate Moss, Alan Carr, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Grant.
- Comedy stars Jack Whitehall and Micky Flanagan attempted their best two-course meal for Comic Relief does MasterChef, as they went head-to-heat in a cook-off for Dame Edna Everage.
- Rowan Atkinson starred as the Archbishop of Canterbury sharing his views on the importance of fundraising in a somewhat confused address to the nation.
- Dawn French was joined by TV heartthrob Damien Lewis in a special 10 minute sketch of The Vicar of Dibley, as Geraldine and her parishioners journeyed to London on a mission to make their vote for women Bishops.
- Jessie J shaved her head down to 0.5mm, as she completed her Dare for Red Nose Day live on TV.
The night also included an unmissable performance from BRIT award winners One Direction who recorded this year’s Red Nose Day single ‘One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)’ – a mash up of Blondie and The Undertones.
There were hilarious sketches from the loudest and proudest mother in Ireland Agnes Brown in Mrs Brown’s Boys; a special of Russell Howard’s Good News and highlights of Fresh Meat’s University Challenge.
Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton made a guest appearance having completed her six week series ’Helen’s Magnificent 7’, where she took on seven huge challenges for Red Nose Day in seven different locations around the UK.
There were also powerful reminders of the serious side of Red Nose Day, with moving appeal films from John Bishop, Brenda Blethyn, Rob Brydon, Davina McCall and Bill Nighy to show how the money raised could help change lives both here in the UK and in Africa.
For those who missed out or just can’t get enough of the Red Nose Day TV gold, many of the highlights are available to download exclusively from iTunes and people can also watch the show on BBC iPlayer.
Comic Relief spends the money raised through Red Nose Day to help change the lives of poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged people across the UK and Africa.
For more information visit rednoseday.com.