Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day – Do Something Funny for Money

This year’s Red Nose Day – subtitled Do Something Funny for Money – managed to get the mix of comedy and moving, tear-jerking, guilt-laden mini documentaries spot on in terms of length and content.

Sadly laughs were in short supply.

It was a fun evening of television, let’s make no bones about it. The carnival atmosphere that marked the second return of Top of the Pops since it’s culling proved that there is life in the old dog yet, given the right timeslot, acts and production nuance. David Tennant and Davina McCall’s much-heralded co-hosting period meanwhile was equal to the billing, and gave the evening the bang it needed to open with.

And yet the laughs…

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first – to begin, I have no desire at all to see Mamma Mia! As such, French & Saunders (hopefully) final outing went straight over my head.
Secondly, I don’t “get” Gavin & Stacey (mainly due to the comparative lack of humour – it’s not a patch on Outnumbered or Not Going Out. The point at which any sitcom has reached its sell-by can easily be measured by the release of charity records). As such, I wasn’t looking forward to James Corden’s “Smithy” confronting the England football team.

I was however extremely surprised by the outcome, which was one of the evening’s few genuine comedy high points. Good sports, the lot of them, especially Frank Lampard and John Terry who took the brunt of the “criticism”.

If like me you tuned into Comic Relief for laughs (hence the “comic”, so I’m told) then Outnumbered’s wonderful two-part special was pretty much the only other real highlight. Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner are of course both marvellous as the put-upon parents, but the real stars are the kids, in particular Ramona Marquez who plays the family’s little girl Karen. The magic of Outnumbered is in the productions approach to the children, who effectively improvise their lines in order for the show’s setting to be immediately identifiable as “real life”.

After that, however, things went downhill. While watching Little Britain’s collaborations with Catherine Tate and Robbie Williams I’m certain I could hear a dead horse being flogged, while the Armstrong and Miller vs Mitchell & Webb material occurred too late to be of any consequence.  Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse meanwhile deserved a much longer slot.

Of course, I’m in the minority.  Comic Relief on the night generated £57 million for good causes in the UK and Africa, so at least a few people must have been sufficiently entertained…

Comic Relief ClimbersThis Friday night (March 13th) it’s Comic Relief on BBC One – which means lots of videos of hardship, how donations are being spent, and lots of laughs!

Alongside the usual wide mix of hosts (this year we’ve got David Tennant alongside the ubiquitous Davina McCall, Lenny Henry, Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton, plus many more) a bit of backslapping for the successful celebrity climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro (DJ Chris Moyles, Girls Aloud’s Cheryl Cole and Kimberley Walsh, presenter Fern Cotton, Take That’s Gary Barlow and Boyzone’s Ronan Keating among them) whose climb can be seen on Thursday evening on BBC One, a celebrity version of The Apprentice and a preview of the final of the toe-curlingly embarrassing Let’s Dance (in which comedians seem to be doing better than everyone else at dancing badly for charity) which follows the next evening, Friday’s Comic Relief night also features some actual comedy!

There are new sketches from Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse as they bring Dragon’s Den to life once again, while Armstrong and Miller team up with Mitchell & Webb. I know who my favourites are, and neither of them voice a super computer in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Which coincidentally is where we’ll find Ronnie Corbett this Red Nose Day, as the Doctor Who universe gets in the Comic Relied spirit via Sarah Jane Smith’s popular alien fighting team – although exactly how that will transpire is anyone’s guess.

There’s also musical entertainment from the Saturdays as well as Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones and Tom Jones performing the two Comic Relief songs, while situation comedies Outnumbered and The Royle Family do their bit, Ant and Dec pop up on BBC One and French and Saunders reunite for one last time as they spoof Mamma Mia!

Throw into the mix some Harry Potter and some Harry Hill’s TV Burp and this year’s Red Nose Day looks set to be one of the most memorable yet!

The Comic Relief charity appeal is on March the 13th this year on both BBC1 and BBC2.  As usual, we can expect celebrities, newsreaders and comics to join in a night of fun and mild pleading to raise money for long- term projects in the UK and Africa.

The theme this time is Do Something Funny for Money and you can expect to see businesses and schools up and down the country getting involved.  As well as the main evening appeal on the 13th of March, the BBC will also be showing Let’s Dance for Comic Relief (which started on BBC1 on the 21st of February and runs till the 14th of March, Saturdays at 7:25pm) and Comic Relief does The Apprentice on the 12th of March at 9pm also on BBC1.  Celebrities such as the Chris Moyles and Chris Barlow plus Cheryl Cole and Fearn Cotton are supporting the appeal by doing a sponsored climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Highlights of the Red Nose Night include David Tennant as a special guest presenter, a final French and Saunders film parody, a special sketch from Gavin and Stacey and a visit to the Royal Family.  There’ll also be lots of other goodies from the cast of Outnumbered and Little Britain, as well as Ricky Gervais.    There’s even going to be a Top of the Pops show.

BBC3 will also be getting in on the Comic Relief act with a special episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps on the 8th of March, which brings together the cast of Two Pints, Coming of Age and Grown Ups in a one-off show.  This may make for some unusual viewing.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1