Comic Relief is a charity which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with sister project Sport Relief. Comic Relief is one of the two high profile telethon events held in Britain, the other being Children in Need held annually in November.
Comic Relief was launched live on Noel Edmonds's Late, Late Breakfast Show on BBC1, on Christmas Day 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan. The idea for Comic Relief came from the noted charity worker Jane Tewson, who established it as the operating name of Charity Projects, a registered charity in England and Scotland.
The charity states that its aim is to "bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people's immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice."
One of the fundamental principles behind working at Comic Relief is the "Golden Pound Principle" where every single donated pound (£) is spent on charitable projects. All operating costs, such as staff salaries, are covered by corporate sponsors, or interest earned on money waiting to be distributed.
Currently, its main supporters are the BBC, BT and Sainsbury's supermarket chain. The BBC is responsible for the live television extravaganza on Red Nose Day; BT provides the telephony, and Sainsbury's sells merchandise on behalf of the charity.
Since the charity was started in the 1980s, Comic Relief has raised over £650 million.
In 2002, Comic Relief and BBC Sport teamed up to create Sport Relief, a new initiative, aiming to unite the sporting community and culminate in a night of sport, entertainment and fund-raising on BBC One. Sport Relief is a biennial charity event, and the campaign deliberately alternates years with Red Nose Day, Comic Relief's flagship event. Red Nose Day occurs in odd-numbered years, and Sport Relief in even-numbered years.
In 2009, Comic Relief launched a website calling for a financial transaction tax, the "Robin Hood" tax.
In 2011, the three different red noses, each a different type, were available for the first time. They are a goofy one called Honkus (with larger ones that are like beanbags which laugh when you bash them called Brian; these are not red noses, however, but are the same as the character), a pirate called Captain Conk, and a nerdy one called Chucklechomp.
Each year the style of noses change, with some people collecting the different variations.