OUR HISTORY TIMELINE

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


Full history   The highlights

JULY
1985

The big idea

As Live Aid captures hearts and minds, Richard Curtis, Jane Tewson and friends know more must be done. That something is Comic Relief.  The idea is to use comedy to raise money and change lives in Africa and the UK.

CHRISTMAS DAY
1985

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!).

1985

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.

1985

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.

FEBRUARY
1986

Top of the pops

Cliff Richard and The Young Ones release Livin’ Doll onto an unsuspecting but, thankfully, very generous public. It sells more than half a million copies and goes straight to number one.

DECEMBER
1987

A song for Christmas

Our second single, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Mel Smith and Kim Wilde sees more money raised and peaks at number three in the charts.

8 FEBRUARY
1988

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.

1989

Homelessness

We enabled the homelessness charity, Centrepoint, to buy two washing machines – a much needed resource for the young people who had nothing but the clothes on their backs.  We also funded research which helped to put youth homelessness on the political agenda.

10 MARCH
1989

Red Nose Day returns

Red Nose Day is back – and now with added Wogan. National treasure, Terry, hosts an evening of comedy gold which sees more than 70,000 events across the country raise over £27 million for fantastic causes.

1990

Best foot forward

Prince Edward launches an initiative called Feet First for Homeless People which leads to over 1,000 people in London walking home from work and donating their transport fares to homeless charities in the capital.

SEPTEMBER
1990

And action…

Video Relief takes place – a competition for young people to make videos about issues like poverty and homelessness. It was won by one Edgar Wright, who went on to direct cult zombie film Shaun of the Dead.

1991

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.

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