Red Nose Day facts: when did it start, who founded it, why it’s important and links to Comic Relief explained

The charity Comic Relief was first founded in 1985 and the event Red Nose Day followed in 1988

Red Nose Day has helped to raise more than £1 billion for Comic Relief across more than three decades.

The big fundraiser captures the attention of the world as people find new and creative ways to raise funds for the charity. Here’s all you need to know about when Red Nose Day started, who founded it, why it’s important, and links to Comic Relief.

What is the difference between Comic Relief and Red Nose Day?

Comic Relief is a charity which was founded in the 1980s to help disadvantaged people and those affected by famine in Africa. Red Nose Day is the event that takes place in support of the charity to raise the money needed to help. Red Nose Day had previously happened every two years, and took place on the second or third Friday in March. From 2022, however, it was announced that Red Nose Day will now take place every year.

When was Comic Relief founded?

The charity Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by screenwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Sir Lenny Henry. The charity was initially set up in response to a huge famine in Ethiopia, Africa. It has since evolved and now raises money for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in both the UK and Africa.

This is when Red Nose Day started and how it is linked to Comic Relief
This is when Red Nose Day started and how it is linked to Comic Relief
This is when Red Nose Day started and how it is linked to Comic Relief

Who are Richard Curtis and Lenry Henry?

Richard Curtis is known for writing some of the best loved comedy films of the last 25 years, including Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Love Actually (2003) and About Time (2013). Sir Lenny Henry is known for being a comedian and an actor. His self-titled show, The Lenny Henry Show, aired on BBC between 1984 and 1988, and then again in 1995 and between 2004 and 2005. The show highlighted his stand-up talents and comedy spoofs. Lenny was knighted in the late Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours for his services to drama and charity.

When did Red Nose Day first become a telethon?

Red Nose Day first began over 30 years ago, in 1988. On 8 February 1988, Lenny Henry marked the very first Red Nose Day telethon by travelling to Ethiopia, Africa. Over 150 celebrities and comedians took part in that first telethon, which included a special of Blackadder and the characters of The Young Ones taking on University Challenge. The event raised £15 million, and over 30 million television viewers watched on BBC1. Red Nose Day 1988 also featured the original red nose, something which we’ve all come to know as a symbol of the charity and event, and was chosen by founders Sir Lenny Henry and Richard Curtis.

How much money has Red Nose Day raised for Comic Relief since it began, and where does the money go?

Since it first started 35 years ago, Red Nose Day has raised over £1 billion for Comic Relief. The milestone was reached in 2015 live on TV. Last year’s appeal raised almost £42.8 million alone. The money raised is spent to help poor and disadvantaged people in the UK and the world’s poorest communities. They include people who are suffering financial and material poverty or have experienced or are at risk of domestic abuse here in the UK, as well as children in this country and internationally who have suffered because of hunger, disease and abuse.

Why was Comic Relief set up and how can I help raise money?

Comic Relief, as the name suggests, was first set up so that comedians could perform to audiences and make them laugh, while raising money to help people in need. Since then, the charity has grown and people from all walks of life are encouraged to get involved.

As part of the Red Nose Day event, people and celebrities of all ages are asked to take part in fundraising events of their choice to raise money for Comic Relief. There’s a whole range of ways people can raise money, but often they bake cakes, take part in sporting challenges or wear red clothes to school or work.

When is Red Nose Day 2023?

Red Nose Day 2023 takes place today, Friday 17 March. For more information, including how you can donate please visit the Comic Relief website.