Today, we don't want to talk about ourselves. We want to talk about Red Nose Day. So we've collected some fascinating facts about the nation's biggest fundraiser – complete with our red nose countdown!
Comic Relief and Red Nose Day
The charity Comic Relief was set up in 1985, the year of Live Aid and a very significant year in the history of public support for humanitarian causes. It was the brainchild of a charity worker called Jane Tewson, who founded Comic Relief under the name “Charity Projects”. The impetus behind the charity's more famous guise – Comic Relief – was the Ethiopian famine, and it was founded under that name by comedy stars Lenny Henry and Richard Curtis.
Comic Relief was officially launched on Christmas Day 1985, broadcasting live from a refugee camp in Sudan, which was also affected by the famine. Three years later, Comic Relief's flagship fundraising telethon Red Nose Day was launched, presented by a range of stars including co-founder Lenny Henry, who has since become a regular face on the two-yearly event.
The big launch: Red Nose Day 1988
The first Red Nose Day was a much less glossy affair than its modern-day counterpart. In an interview with the Telegraph in 2013, Lenny Henry commented that in that first year, “we were just asking everybody to be kind and help”.
The show was more directly comedy orientated, as well, with entertainment from acts such as the Goodies and the Blackadder gang. In his reflections, Lenny Henry comments on the uneasy juxtaposition between comedy and hard-hitting features from deprived communities in Africa: “lots of comedians discovered it was very difficult to do live comedy with an audience that has just watched somebody die”.
Today, we would all agree that striking this balance is one of Red Nose Day's many strengths – by giving the whole nation permission to have fun while thinking seriously about the plight of others, it encourages us to engage with issues we might otherwise choose not to dwell on.
The first Red Nose Day raised an astonishing £15 million.
The years since
Such was the success of Red Nose Day that the event was held again a year later in 1989. It was an even bigger success, raising an astonishing £26.9 million. Since then, it's taken place every other year – and it's gone from strength to strength, typically raising in excess of £60 million. As of Red Nose Day 2013, Comic Relief had raised a whopping £950 million for charitable causes.
We love red noses!
Everybody loves red noses, and they are certainly the most recognisable feature of the day (the clue's in the name!), and we all look forward to seeing what the next red nose will look like.
Here are our top five:
5. The Red Nose (1988) – To be honest, this one was pretty uncomfortable. But it's a classic, so we couldn't really leave it out.
4. Nose in a Bag (2015) – This year you buy a mystery bag containing one of nine nose designs. We're pretty impressed/dismayed by the puns – Snout Dracula and Snotty Professor are possibly our favourites.
3. The Big Red Hooter (1999) – This one made a noise when squeezed. Great fun!
2. Whoopee Nose (2001) – This nose stuck out its tongue when you squeezed it. Naughty but nice...
1. The Big One (2007) – Made from foam, this nose was definitely one of the more comfortable. We loved accessorising ours with the stickers that came in the box (did you know it was also the final nose to come in a box?) And complete with chocolate, what could be better?
So why are we raising awareness of Red Nose Day?
Everyone knows about Red Nose Day, so we don't claim to be raising significant awareness of the event! However, we do believe that there are some causes so good that charities should should just rally round and support each other. Comic Relief, the organisation behind Red Nose Day, helps communities struggling with the same challenges faced by many of the families we support – and of course we wholeheartedly commend them.
If the Comic Relief approach suits you then we encourage you to give on Red Nose Day – and to remember that you can donate to Comic Relief all year round via their website.
Naturally, we believe that we at SOS Children offer a unique and vital model of care for children growing up without their parents, funded via child sponsorship. For some people, we know this a preferred way of giving, and we hope that if this is true of you, you will consider sponsoring a child with SOS Children in future. You can find out more about child sponsorship, or – if you're ready – begin your sponsorship now: