‘Comic Relief’ was started in 1985 by the writer Richard Curtis and the comedian Lenny Henry. At that time, people in Ethiopia were suffering from an awful hunger and something had to be done. The idea was simple. Richard and Lenny decided to gather a group of much-loved British comedians to give public performances. And in this way they would collect money to help people in desperate need. They also hoped to let people know about poverty in Africa. Richard and Lenny strongly believe that laughter is the best weapon to fight tragedy, poverty and injustice. That was how ‘Comic Relief’ was born.
One of the main events organised by ‘Comic Relief’ is Red Nose Day. It takes place every two years in the spring, though many people think that this day should be held annually. The first Red Nose Day was held on 5 February 1988 and since then they have been held on the second or third Friday in March.
The event is widely celebrated in the UK and many people consider it to be a type of unofficial national holiday. The symbol of the day is the red nose which you can find in various supermarkets and charity shops. The thing is that red noses are not sold and you cannot buy them, but you can leave a small sum of money (a donation) and just take one. The exact sum of the donation is not fixed. You can leave as much as you want – it's an act of charity.
Since 1985 there have been all kinds of noses: plastic, soft, boring common ones, there were noses that looked like faces, noses that made noises, noses that changed colour when they got hot… This year it's a dinosaur theme, which means noses are shaped like small creatures from pre-history.
On Red Nose Day money-raising events take place all over the country and many schools participate.
In the evening of Red Nose Day a ‘telethon' takes place on the BBC channels. This is like a televised marathon that shows a selection of the events of the day, and lots of short comic performances and reports of how the money will be spent. It starts in the evening and goes through into the early hours of the morning.
There’s a Red Nose Day page on Facebook and you can follow it on Twitter. People also upload videos of local charity events on YouTube and Facebook.
So, if you are ever in the UK on Red Nose Day, now you know why you will find normal people wearing red noses and doing silly things! It's all for a good reason!