Red Nose Day 2021 has been confirmed for Friday 19th March. Comic Relief, which runs the biennial day, hopes to "bring the UK together (although we may be apart) through laughter and helping others, showing just how powerful humour can be through the toughest of times."
The BBC One television special, due to be broadcast that night, will feature "comedy, entertainment, music and much more besides."
The organisers confirm: "The Red Nose Day night of TV will feature hilarious sketches, live performances and one-off comedy specials whilst showcasing the incredible impact donations have in the UK and across the world."
With "lots of exciting news still to be announced in the lead up to the big day", it's been revealed today that Alesha Dixon, David Tennant, Davina McCall, Paddy McGuinness and Sir Lenny Henry will present the live telethon.
To engage children, Comic Relief will launch Share A Smile in collaboration with the BBC Children's department. They explain: "Laughter can offer some temporary release from problems and so by encouraging people to put their favourite joke in their window, people power can get the nations laughing right across the UK, one home at a time. An interactive Red Nose map on the CBBC website will show just how smiley we've got, and some of the best ones will appear across CBeebies and CBBC shows including Blue Peter, Saturday Mash Up, Newsround and CBBC HQ over the weeks leading up to, and also on the BBC One night of TV."
Comic Relief co-founder Sir Lenny Henry comments: "We all need cheering up, so this year Red Nose Day will be a bit different. Of course we want to raise as much money as possible for people who really need it in the UK and around the world. But we also want to make you smile and bring you some laughter over the coming weeks!"
Red Nose Day donations will be used to tackle issues including homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse, and mental health problems, all of which have been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic. The charity says: "As Covid-19 continues to impact people all over the world, it has never felt more important to raise smiles and money for those who are struggling more than ever. For 35 years, Comic Relief has shown how laughter can make a difference, raising over £1.4bn to help change millions of lives, all thanks to the enormous generosity and kindness of the British public."
A video has been published today, which sees Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench, Karim Zeroual, Joe Lycett, Mo Gilligan, Roman Kemp, Shappi Khorsandi and Sir Lenny Henry talking about how comedy has helped them personally in different ways.
Benedict Cumberbatch said: "I think laughter is a panacea, it's always been a national medicine. I think people reached out for it in lockdown; it's a way of getting through life's difficulties and release the tension to just have a moments respite from it; and that relief is much needed now."
Dame Judi Dench commented: "I absolutely and implicitly believe in laughter being the best medicine. Red Nose Day is something we can all enjoy, and goodness knows during this lockdown everyone has relied so much on television and seeing as many films as they can. I look forward to it enormously. I hope we all have a wonderful laugh and at the same time donate something as it goes to a very, very good cause".
Joe Lycett said: "Laughter is such a great tool. Literally every bad thing that has happened to me in my life, I have been able to get around it with humour. Comedy is such a vital tool in all of our lives, and I think if you lose that then you've lost something really profoundly useful. Life is hard, and there's lots of really dark stuff about it, but if you can laugh at it then it loses all of its power."
Mo Gilligan commented: "There's just something so special about laughter and its ability to bring people together. Comic Relief has never felt more needed, especially when so many people have had it so tough right across the last year. I'm proud to do whatever I can to help this year's incredible campaign."
Shappi Khorsandi said: "No matter what, if you're able to get that feeling of sharing a laugh with someone, then you've got a grip on who you are, and you've got a grip on hope. When I'm low, or when I've gone through the worst points in my life, sitting down with my brother, or a close friend, and laughing about the thing that is happening, laughing about the tragedy with someone who knows you and gets your humour is exactly what you need."
A new set of Red Noses people can wear have been manufactured. This year's merchandise is, for the first time, 100% plastic free and plant-based, made from a by-product of sugarcane called Bagasse. The charity says: "There's 10 woodland characters to find in your local Sainsbury's stores, sainsburys.co.uk and on comicrelief.com/shop now, and online at argos.co.uk from 10th February."
The charity concludes: "There are lots of ways to get involved if you feel able to. To find out more, and for covid-safe fundraising ideas, visit comicrelief.com/rednoseday".