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15.3.13

Red Nose Day - 25 Years - 1988-2013

 1988 - Griff Rhys Jones, Lenny Henry and Jonathan Ross take part in the very first Red Nose Day.

Did you wear your red nose today? '80s Actual Towers has been fair bristling with the things! Comic Relief was, of course, launched on Christmas Day 1985 with a live report from a refugee camp in Sudan, and the first Red Nose Day was held on 5 February 1988.

Recently, Lenny Henry wrote about the first Red Nose Day back in 1988, and how it has changed since then:

"Comic Relief these days is much more in line with shiny-floor shows like The X Factor – fast, zappy, presenter-led – but we were just asking everybody to be kind and help. We had live entertainment from comedians such as the Goodies and pre-recorded films from Africa, but lots of comedians discovered it was very difficult to do live comedy with an audience that has just watched somebody die. I went to Ethiopia for one section where we filmed a row of Ethiopian men in their tribal gowns. The camera panned along them and the voice-over said, 'Please give us some money; poverty can affect somebody you might know.’ The last person on the row was me, dressed in the same tribal gown. For the first time it wasn’t just an image of a starving child with a big belly and flies crawling all over their face – it was somebody that the audience knew. 

"There is a lot of fear bound up in comedy – 'How will I be funny? Am I going to be the funniest?’ – but since we were all aiming at the same target there was a bullish vibe. Everything went wrong, of course – the autocue stopped, someone tried to do some magic and it didn’t work, Frankie Howerd came on and wouldn’t stop talking – but people were really moved by the films. I thought that if I made people laugh, and donate, then maybe the kids I visited in the Kibera slum in Kenya wouldn’t have to live in a room with a sewer running down the middle of it. We raised £15 million that night, which was a big deal."

3 comments:

  1. The first one I remember is the one where Bananarama and French & Saunders did the Beatles cover. We all had our red noses in school. They were made from the hardest plastic that made breathing somewhat tricky! I'll always love Lenny Henry! :)

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    1. Ah, yes, the 1989 Comic Relief record offering, Help!, by Lananeeneenoonoo, with Bananarama. Hilarious! Heard it on the radio in the gym the other day. Of course, Jennifer was a bit "toppy" and Dawn a bit "bottomy". I got the giggles and nearly fell off the cross trainer!

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  2. I don't know whether its the rose tinted glow of a nostalgia for my childhood or whether it's actually a harsh reality, but Comic Relief, as a TV event, is crap now compared to what it was 25 years ago. It had a real spark and vibrancy in those first 10 yrs and wasn't a concession to anything in that it wasn't about being popular, if you wanted to help and were funny you were on the show. Now it's all about whoever has an album out, or who gets the best ratings, with many old comics chucked by the wayside. I think I laughed once last night and that was the return of David Brent. Everything else was dismally unfunny. Still, fond memories of the brilliant sketches and songs from when I was the best age to enjoy it all

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