Comic Relief is a British charity organisation which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief’s appeal is an annual telethon held in March, alternating asRed Nose Day and Sport Relief day. Comic Relief is one of the two high profile telethon events held in Britain, the other beingChildren in Need held annually in November.
Comic Relief was launched live on Noel Edmonds’s Late, Late Breakfast Show on BBC1, on Christmas Day 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan. The idea for Comic Relief came from the noted charity worker Jane Tewson, who established it as the operating name of Charity Projects, a registered charity in England and Scotland.
Comic Relief was inspired by the success of the first four Secret Policeman’s Ball comedy benefit shows for Amnesty International (1976-1981). Initially funds were raised from live events, and the best known is a comedy revue at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London which was finally broadcast on television on 25 April 1986.
One of the fundamental principles behind working at Comic Relief is the “Golden Pound Principle” where every single donated pound (£) is spent on charitable projects. Alloperating costs, such as staff salaries, are covered by corporate sponsors, or interest which is earned while money raised is waiting to be spent on charitable projects.
Currently, its two main supporters are the public service broadcaster – the BBC, and the supermarket – Sainsbury’s. The BBC is responsible for the live television extravaganza on Red Nose Day, and Sainsbury’s sells merchandise on behalf of the charity.
Since the charity was started in the 1980s, Comic Relief has raised over £600 million.
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 across the UK having non-uniform days. The day culminates in a live telethon event on BBC One, 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/foam red noses which are available, in exchange for a donation, from Sainsbury’s and Oxfam shops.