People from all over the country have helped to raise over £75 million for Comic Relief this year. Alongside the money raised from viewers phoning in during the BBC’s telethon to donate, TK Maxx raised £3.7m through sales of the Red Nose Day T-shirts and homeware, British Airways donated £2m, Sainsbury’s raised more than £10m through sales of their Red Nose Day merchandise and singer Jesse J raised £500,000 by having her head shaved.
The government also promised to back the public’s support with a donation of £16m to the overall total, specifically for Comic Relief’s work to improve the lives of women and girls in Africa.
It will go on improving literacy, helping girls go to school, provide care for expectant mothers, help women farmers, promote women’s rights and be used to help reduce violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls, such as genital mutilation.
BT’s 10,000 volunteers handled 458,000 calls to the donation line during the live TV show, peaking at 200 calls per second.
The BBC’s telethon this year included many celebrities and comedy sketches. In one skit David Walliams confronts several celebrities he’s been ‘intimate’ with, featuring appearances from the likes of supermodel Kate Moss, footballer Frank Lampard and Hollywood stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Grant.
Walliams is inspected by Doctor Christian Jessen from Embarrassing Bodies and told he has to pay a visit to everyone he’s slept with in the last year, suggesting that he’s picked up a sexually transmitted disease. When visiting Kate Moss she tells him: ‘That was the most erotic night of lovemaking I’ve ever had.’ David shrugged and said: ‘To be honest love it wasn’t in my top ten.’
The highlight of the evening’s comedic entertainment, though, had to be the resurrection of David Brent in a mini-episode of The Office. Ricky Gervais not only brought Brent back to life in aid of Comic Relief but his character also starred in the hilarious music video ‘Equality Street’
Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office Revisited
David Brent and rapper Dom Johnson in Equality Street
Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by scriptwriter and film director Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually) and comedian Lenny Henry in response to the famine in Ethiopia. It was launched from a refugee camp in Sudan on Christmas Day that year.
Of the money raised this year, Richard Curtis said: “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.
“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.”