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Fabtastic cause: Comic Relief 2011 (Mar 18)

March 18, 2011

Help!: imagery of The Beatles was used to publicise Red Nose Day in 2009, the appeal that year raising the enormously impressive sum of £80 million for good causes in both Africa and the UK

Contrary to, well, some people’s opinion, doctors swear by it – yes, laughter is apparently a fine form of medicine. All right, it may not, as the saying goes, be the best, but for many projects of goodwill – and, ultimately, for people – throughout Africa and in the UK, laughter has been very important since way back in 1988, when the first Comic Relief appeal televised on the BBC turned the currency of humour and laughter into hard cash.

And tonight, the biennial event is back once more. Nowadays, of course, it’s huge. Already in the name of this year’s effort, David Walliams has experienced the ‘ardour’ of participating in 24 hours of panel shows, Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton has walked a high-wire between the towers of London’s Battersea Power Station and a group of – let’s be honest – mostly annoying celebrities have trekked across a Kenyan desert. But it’s tonight when the real hard-sell happens and the several-hours-long marathon of televisual funnybone-exercising takes place and the raising of the real reddies is realised.

Just like the BBC’s other charity-athon Children In Need, Comic Relief manages to make the Great British public part with a staggering amount of dosh – so far, the charity has raised around £650 million.  All in all then, given so many dig deep and, of course, given the importance of the different causes it helps out, methinks Comic Relief is a most worthy and significant event to support. So, yes, this post is me doing my bit – and, inevitably, it has a retro slant to it too in the form of a quartet of classic clips I’ve included to tickle your collective sense of humour.

The first is from (probably) the first Comic Relief event held at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, on April 4 1986 and features Rowan Atkinson and, yes, Kate Bush performing a duet of the – once heard, never forgotten – song Do Bears…?

The second is from the same event and features Stephen Fry as a merchant banker struggling to get to grips with a couple of Comic Relief money-raisers – Band/ Live Aid organisers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure no less – asking him for a charity contribution (oh, how topical)…

The third is no doubt from the same night and features Atkinson again as an Elizabethan literary editor and Hugh Laurie as William Shakespeare with the two discussing what to keep in and – mostly – out of his new play entitled Hamlet…

And, finally, the fourth comes from Red Nose Night 1989 as the brilliant Atkinson (yet again) pastiches a fast-talking Peter Snow-like figure asking memorable politicians of the day questions in a Newsnight-cum-panel show sketch…

And if you enjoyed all of that then do give tonight’s TV event a view and give some money, or at least just give some money, won’t you? I guarantee you’ll feel better for it – after all, laughter’s good for you.

Comic Relief is on BBC1 tonight from 7pm (UK and Northern Ireland only)

Further reading

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