Jennifer Saunders and Oti Mabuse take to the court as Clare Balding presents star-studded Sport Relief netball match

10th July 2019

Immediate release: Wednesday 10th July 2019

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Jennifer Saunders and Oti Mabuse take to the court as Clare Balding presents star-studded Sport Relief netball match

One-hour special to air on BBC Two at 7pm on Saturday 20th July

Two teams of celebrity players and sporting legends, led by Jennifer Saunders and Oti Mabuse, will battle it out this summer in the first ever All-Star Netball for Sport Relief. Sport Relief will take to the court as Clare Balding presents a tense celebrity and legends netball match during the weekend of the Vitality Netball World Cup final.

The netball newbies are ditching their usual daytime attire and pulling on netball bibs to help raise money and change lives in the UK and internationally. The intrepid squad’s journey will all be revealed, from the very first training session through to the nail-biting final, in a one-hour special at 7pm Saturday 20th July on BBC Two.

Hoping to carry out a childhood dream of lifting a sporting trophy, huge netball fan and comedy legend Jennifer Saunders will captain one of the all-star teams. She will face tough competition from a team led by Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse. Oti, who grew up playing netball in South Africa, will be hoping her years of dance training pay off as she hot foots it around the court at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.

Eager to make their captains proud are team players Montana Brown (Love Island), Denise Lewis (Ex-heptathlete & former Olympic champion), Sarah Hadland (Actress and comedian, Miranda), Sally Phillips (Actress and comedian, Smack the Pony), Sue Smith (Commentator and ex-England footballer), Ellie Taylor (Presenter and comedian, The Mash Report), Vick Hope (Capital FM Breakfast presenter), Luisa Omielan (Comedian), Adele Roberts (BBC Radio 1 DJ), Dame Katherine Grainger (Ex-rower and former Olympic champion), Lindsey Russell (Presenter, Blue Peter), Jade Jones (Taekwondo athlete & Olympic gold medallist) and Katharine Merry (Ex-sprinter & former Olympian medallist).

Clare Balding said, ‘Comic Relief and I share the belief that sport has the power to bring about positive social change for individuals and communities and I’ve wanted to put on something like All-Star Netball for Sport Relief for some time. This summer has been incredible for putting women in sport in the spotlight and with the Vitality Netball World Cup taking place in the UK it’s far from finished, so I’m thrilled that All-Star Netball for Sport Relief can be a part of that. I hope the match inspires more women across the country to get involved with sport while raising money for vital causes.’

Jennifer Saunders said, ‘I never thought I’d be leading a team out on to a netball court but I’m definitely up for the challenge. I would say I’m confident, but I haven’t picked up a netball since school so who knows what kind of moves I’ll be making out there in the arena. I wouldn’t be getting this active for anything other than Sport Relief so I’m hoping loads of people tune in to the programme and donate. This might be my only chance to hold up a sporting trophy and I’m not letting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip away from me, so when I pull on that netball bib I’ll be taking my role as team captain very seriously. My team are going to be unstoppable and there certainly won’t be any cheating going on…’

Oti Mabuse said, ‘I’ve always played sports, all different types, and netball has always been something I have really enjoyed. Netball was a part of my upbringing, I grew up playing it in South Africa, so the game is close to my heart. I like playing GA because I love shooting, whenever we go out to a game arcade I play my husband and we’re always competing against each other on who can score the most goals! As a team captain, I’ll be whipping my team in to shape to keep Jennifer on her toes and make sure we bring that trophy home. I’ll be pushing the team and I’m going to do a massive pep talk about self-belief and encouragement - my plan is to make the team believe they are the best netball players in the country. I’m going to have to keep my cool during Sport Relief’s All-Star Netball because I’ve never played in such a big arena before, the pressure is on! Despite the size of the arena, I’m excited to get out on that court and give it my all for Sport Relief to help raise vital funds.

These famous faces are getting active for Sport Relief to raise money to help support vulnerable people here in the UK and abroad through projects such as The Change Foundation in London. The Change Foundation uses the rules and game of netball to teach girls and young women how to stay safe on social media. It empowers girls and young women to think more positively about their social graph, consider how it can affect their prospects for the future and raises awareness of negative social influences.

Shooting Touch in Rwanda is another brilliant project helping women through the power of sport. Shooting Touch deliver basketball health sessions that incorporate an employability module to drive gender equity, reduce stigmas, and increase employment. The project includes elements designed specifically for women, aimed at driving economic empowerment through employment and self-employment in their communities.

The programme will showcase the game, follow the ups and downs of team training and show how the money raised by Sport Relief is used to make a real difference to ordinary people living incredibly tough lives. Tune in to the one-off special, 7pm Saturday 20th July on BBC Two.



Stevie Mather

0207 820 2500

Comic Relief Media Team

0207 820 2500

(Out of hours 07984 510 473)

Notes to Editors:

Additional quotes -

Sarah Hadland said, ‘As soon as I heard the words Sport Relief, netball and Jennifer Saunders together in once sentence I knew I had to be involved. Jennifer is going to be a top captain, she’ll be strong, assertive, funny and shouting out little quips as we’re running past. I’m going to bring my bossy side to the match and I’ll be shouting a lot of ‘no!’, ‘pass!’, ‘ME!’, ‘pivot!’. I haven’t played for over thirty years but I’m excited and I feel like I’ve still got it. I used to play centre at school and I was also captain - I remember giving pep talks to the team in the library! I can’t wait to get my bib back on. For centre you do need to be small, fast and aggressive and I tick all those boxes so if I’m not playing centre – we’re going to see some netball rage and it will get ugly. As far as playing by the rules goes, I can’t really remember the rules and if you can’t remember them then all bets are off, aren’t they? All I can remember is the pivot, so I’ll be strictly adhering to that – I’ll be the pivoting princess. Saunders’ team all the way!’

Montana Brown said, ‘I’m a big fan of netball and I used to play a lot when I was younger. I’ve missed it so much that I recently joined a summer league, so I’ve been sneaking in some extra practice. It’s amazing to get to play with some absolute icons, we’ve got Olympians, actresses and inspirational women all together - it’s incredible. I’m going to be a great player to have on the team, I’ve got a fresh set of legs and I’m going to be running across that court and making my captain proud. We’ve been training as a team and it’s been full of laughs but I’m sure everyone will bring their competitive edge when we walk on to the court. I’m very competitive and I’ll be going for every single ball – no one can hold me back! My favourite position to play is GA because I love the glory of netting the ball and I don’t like to be restricted, but I don’t know how I’m going to play with such a big audience around me. It’s a little bit daunting but I’m doing it for Sport Relief and every time I get nervous I’ll be thinking about the brilliant projects that the money raised goes towards. Bring it on!’

About Comic Relief

Comic Relief is a UK charity with a simple purpose - to create a just world, free from poverty. Comic Relief does this by funding and investing in amazing organisations across the UK and around the world to tackle some of the key issues of our time. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1.3 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, to improve countless lives.

For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit

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