When we did our first Comic Relief event 30 years ago, we began with a dream of making one, possibly two, million pounds. On Friday night at 1 a.m. we announced a fundraising total for Comic Relief and Sport Relief of over one billion pounds. And none of that would have been possible – seriously none – without the collective might, support, passion, sense of humour, risk-taking, flexibility, nerve, generosity, let’s-keep-doing-new-stuff-iness and complete commitment of the BBC. Every bit of it – on radio, on TV, online, everywhere…”
Curtis and Henry added that Friday’s live show featured comedy “made fresh for the night and appeals made from the heart” and praised Sam Smith and John Legend’s first performance of the Comic Relief single Lay Me Down.
The letter signed off:
“Without the BBC, we would have been a group of dodgy comedians wishing we could help a bit in 1985. With the BBC, we have helped over 50 million people living tough lives in the UK and overseas for 30 years. We’ve invented a day together – and we hope we’ve been a part of helping people in the UK know they can make a good difference in other people’s lives.
“We just wanted to say – this is the BBC’s billion. The motto of the organisation is “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation”. We feel we’re part of that old purpose and look forward to years of fun, demanding, absurd, emotional, sometimes exasperating, always excellent BBC/Red Nose stuff for years to come. Bring on Billion 2.
With love and thanks,
Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry”
Friday night’s live show also featured the likes of Stephen Hawking, Daniel Craig, Dawn French, Rowan Atkinson and Henry himself who joined Claudia Winkleman and Russell Brand on stage to announce the total. Re-live the moment below:
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.