Red Nose Day 2024: When did Red Nose Day start, who started Comic Relief, and why we wear red noses

The hosts of Red Nose Day 2024 - but when did the charity fun start?The hosts of Red Nose Day 2024 - but when did the charity fun start?
The hosts of Red Nose Day 2024 - but when did the charity fun start? | BBC/Comic Relief
As schools, shops and businesses across the UK raise funds for Red Nose Day 2024, here’s what you need to know about Comic Relief – and when Red Nose Day began.

Every mid-March, people all over the UK don iconic red noses and take part in fundraising activities to raise money to help to end child poverty and hunger.

The UK’s funny fundraising campaign, spearheaded by Comic Relief, sees Red Nose Day held every two years – with schools, businesses and celebrities raising money to help aid Comic Relief’s mission of tackling poverty in the UK and across the world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The event is an iconic one in British entertainment, with stars such as David Tennant, Dawn French, Alesha Dixon and Sir Lenny Henry treating viewers tuning into watch Comic Relief on BBC to an extravaganza of live comedy and performances.

Red Nose Day is an important day in every school and fundraising calendar – but when did it first begin?

Here’s when Red Nose Day started, who created Comic Relief and why we wear red noses on this day.

When did Red Nose Day start?

Red Nose Day itself didn’t start until three years after Comic Relief was first launched from a refugee camp in Sudan on Christmas Day 1985.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The first Red Nose Day was held on Friday February 5 1988, hosted by Sir Lenny Henry and Griff Rhys Jones, and aired on BBC One.

More than 30 million people tuned in to watch a Blackadder special episode, the stars of The Young Ones on University Challenge, Rowan Atkinson and Monty Python sketches and a final comedy routine from Jonathan Ross, Lenny Henry and Griff Rhys Jones.

In total, the first Red Nose Day raised more than £15 million for causes in the UK and Africa and helped to cement the event as a hallmark of British entertainment fundraising.

Looking back on the first Red Nose Day in 2013, Lenny Henry told the Telegraph: “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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“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.”

Who started Comic Relief?

Comic Relief is the charity behind Red Nose Day and Sports Relief fundraising events, and was founded by British screenwriter Richard Curtis, philanthropist Jane Tewson and comedian Sir Lenny Henry in response to global humanitarian and poverty crises abroad.

Over the years, however, its poverty-tackling aim widened to include the UK – with the charity stating that it has aided 11.7 million people worldwide to have access to safe homes, mental health services, education and financial resources over the last two years.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Why do we wear red noses for Comic Relief?

Red noses have become synonymous with Comic Relief ever since Red Nose Day first began, with the event held to mark the biggest day of Comic Relief’s fundraising campaign.

The simple round red nose that first appeared in 1988 has changed drastically over the years, with all sorts of attachments, sounds and more added to the iconic red nose over the decades.

With the day being a bonanza of entertainment and comedy, the red nose recalls the staple accessory worn as part of a classic clown costume.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.