Below are just some of the highlights of Comic Relief's history.

Full history   The highlights


We have lift off!

On Christmas Day, Comic Relief is launched live on BBC One from the Safawa refugee camp in Sudan during Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show. The producer is Helen Fielding (before her Bridget Jones days!).


BT the brilliant!

BT has supported us from day one, making them a huge part of our success.  They provide the telephony, call centres, network management and volunteers that enable us to take millions of pounds of donations.


Oxfam the outstanding

Oxfam has been a partner of Comic Relief since the very beginning. They’ve worked closely with us on projects to tackle poverty and social injustice in Africa, and sold millions of Red Noses in their shops and online.


First Red Nose Day

Lenny Henry and a group of children in Ethiopia celebrate the first ever Red Nose Day. Over 150 celebrities and comedians take part as 30 million viewers watch a huge night of TV on the BBC and raise over £15 million.


Rights not charity

We hold an event to give disabled people in the UK a voice in the decisions affecting their lives; “rights not charity” becomes the watch-word and marks a turning point in securing rights for disabled people in the UK.

March 1996

Omnibus special

BBC One’s Omnibus marks Comic Relief’s 10th birthday by giving it a programme all to itself. 2.8 million people tune in.


Super Sainsbury's

Sainsbury’s become one of our leading partners and have since gone on to sell almost 50m Red Noses, raise an astonishing £84m and set up the Fair Development Fund to help transform the lives of small producers worldwide.


Pure Magic

JK Rowling offers to write two Harry Potter books exclusively for Comic Relief. The proceeds from the sales of these have so far conjured up over £18 million.


Out of the blocks

The first ever Sport Relief kicks off and the great British public prove they’re great sports by raising more than £14 million.


Howdy partner

TK Maxx joins the Comic Relief family as a corporate partner (and has been on board ever since).


Senior support

We launch a campaign to draw attention to the plight of older people in the UK who are abused by people they should be able to trust. As a result, Comic Relief takes its first steps into TV drama with a show called Dad.


Top of the world

Nine awesome celebs – Gary Barlow, Cheryl Cole, Ronan Keating, Alisha Dixon, Chris Moyles, Denise Van Outen, Kimberley Walsh, Ben Shephard, Fearne Cotton – undertake The BT Big Red Nose Climb and climb up Mt Kilimanjaro and into our hearts by raising over £3m!


We join the jet set

British Airways chooses Comic Relief as its global charity partner – the first partnership to work with Comic Relief that aims to raise money all year round.


Walliams takes the plunge

Sport Relief superstar David Walliams doesn’t just keep his head above water, he swims an astonishing 140 miles along the River Thames for his BT Sport Relief Challenges: Walliams VS The Thames.


Week of hell

In John Bishop’s BT Sport Relief Challenges: Bishop’s Week of Hell, the comedian goes 290 miles out of his way to raise more than £4 million by cycling, rowing and running from Paris to London in five days.


Davina beyond breaking point

In Davina's BT Sport Relief Challenges: Beyond Breaking Point, Davina cycled, swam and ran 500 miles from Edinburgh to London in just seven days and raised an amazing £2,456,393.


Comic Relief hit £1 billion

Red Nose Day 2015 was special. If the end-of-night total of £78,082,988 wasn't impressive enough, it brought the amount raised by Comic Relief, over the last 30 years, to more than £1 billion. And it’s all thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the British public.


Red Nose Day USA is a huge success

On 21st May, America got its first ever taste of Red Nose Day. The night of TV, in partnership with NBC, featured some massive stars and, combined with the generosity of millions of Americans and corporate partners, raised $23 million.


Eddie Izzard Marathon Man

Eddie Izzard managed to complete a staggering 27 marathons in 27 days for Sport Relief. His incredible challenge across South Africa saw him complete 707 miles (1,134 km) in temperatures in excess of 40°C. What an absolute legend.

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