Home » TV: Comic relief – the UK’s biggest night of comedy and entertainment is back

TV: Comic relief – the UK’s biggest night of comedy and entertainment is back

The UK’s biggest night of comedy and entertainment is back: Red Nose Day is returning for 2023 with an epic three-hour appeal show filled with TV specials, music performances, hilarious sketches and heartfelt stories showing what Comic Relief is all about.

Hosting live from Media City Salford this year will be David Tennant, Paddy McGuinness, Zoe Ball, Joel Dommett and AJ Odudu, who are all bursting with excitement for what’s to come, and to raise money for those in need.

“I’ve always been aware of the incredible work that Comic Relief does – it’s one of those shows that I’ve watched since I was a little girl,” says Odudu, 35.

“It’s such a joyous charity and an incredible way to make money for many causes that are close to my heart, but especially right now with food poverty and mental health support needed more than ever.”

As Odudu says, Comic Relief is returning at a particularly pertinent time this year.

With times tough for millions of people around the UK and across the world, donations to Comic Relief will fund projects to help people who are going through the hardest periods in their lives, including tackling issues like homelessness, mental health problems, and food poverty.

“So many people are in need of support, both in the UK and around the world, more so than ever before, and it’s important we do what we can to spread the word and help out,” says radio presenter and Comic Relief appeal show host Ball, 52.

“I’ve seen how far the money raised can go in helping with support.

“It’s pretty awesome that people are always wanting to help their fellow neighbours and communities.”

As ever, Red Nose Day 2023 brings with it a jam-packed night of TV specials.

“We have so much planned,” teases Dommett, 37.

“The names included are truly unbelievable. I’m really excited to be a part of the team and hold the fort for the first few hours.”

Love Island fans will be treated to a hilarious surprise when an unexpected bombshell enters the villa in a special episode complete with Maya Jama slow-mos, wisecracks from Iain Stirling, and even a romantic trip to the hideaway.

Dawn French is playing Claudia Winkleman in a Red Nose Day version of The Traitors, in which she assembles a celebrity group of the ‘Faithful’ and the ‘Traitors’ for a hilarious take on the hit psychological gameshow.

Of course, there’ll be some comedy specials too. One of the nation’s most beloved comedy characters, Blackadder’s Baldrick, is returning to read us a bedtime story, while Kylie Minogue will feature in a special episode of BBC sitcom Ghosts.

Also featuring in the big appeal appeal show are brilliant prize draws, and this year’s offering is truly mind blowing.

Chris Evans’ CarFest has donated a car like no other – an iconic 2009 Jaguar X-Type Estate previously owned and driven by HM Queen Elizabeth II – and it’s up for grabs in the prize draw.

Red Nose Day is a mainstay fixture of fun for people up and down the country, and goes far further than the night of entertainment on the appeal show.

Odudu says that while “getting to stay up late as a little girl to watch the show” is one of her fondest memories of Comic Relief, she loved how campaigning for the charity took place in her day-to-day life, too.

“We were always calling in to donate, and that (felt) like a really special thing to do,” she says.

“At school it would always be a big thing as well – non-uniform day, people baking cakes, we’d get to wear our noses in class…

“It was always really fun and silly. I love the humour around Comic Relief and Red Nose Day.”

In the run-up to Red Nose Day, BBC One and CBBC are hosting additional Comic Relief programming to get us in the fundraising and comedy spirit.

On March 14, Emma, Oti and Rylan’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge, following Emma Willis, Oti Mabuse and Rylan’s trek to the top of the Cairn Gorm Mountain in the Scottish Highlands – the toughest physical challenge of their lives as they battle freezing temperatures, dangerous weather and wild camping in a punishing climate – will air on BBC One.

Then, on Red Nose Day itself, CBBC is hosting Red Peter. For the first time in its 65-year history, Blue Peter is changing its name and iconic colour for a special episode packed full with world record attempts, challenges, musical performances and more.

There’ll also be some shows looking back at the history of Comic Relief, celebrating its 35th year.

Twenty-two years since the iconic 2001 special which saw six celebrities enter the Big Brother house in aid of Comic Relief, winner Jack Dee and fellow housemates Vanessa Feltz, Claire Sweeney, Keith Duffy and Anthea Turner are taking a look back at the time they helped raise millions of pounds for the charity on BBC Two.

“This year there is a show on BBC One and iPlayer of some of the best ever Comic Relief moments from across the years, and it’s such a fabulous flashback,” adds Ball of The Best of the Best Bits – a show which ransacks the BBC archives for a look down memory lane at Red Nose Day history.

As the public dons their red noses to get fundraising, the Red Nose Day hosts are preparing for the big night. But what are their Red Nose Day pre-show rituals?

For McGuinness, 49, it’s “a mild panic attack followed by Bafta-worthy acting that I’m completely calm…”

“Brush all my teeth, have a last-minute panic wee and try to remember to breathe,” says Ball of her routine.

“I love working with David and Paddy as they make it so fun, and we’re in front of a live audience in Salford, which will be epic as anything can happen…”

“Just relax, have fun… and keep saying to myself: ‘Don’t mess it up’,” laughs Dommett.

“The routine is literally: whack on some music, put on some make-up, get a fancy frock on, take some pics and we’re good to go,” adds Odudu.

“Music and glam is all we need.”

Comic Relief 2023 will air on BBC1 on Friday.