Today, Sir Lenny Henry revealed that he will host Comic Relief for the last time when it airs on BBC One on Friday 15th March this year.

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The comedian co-founded the charity with director Richard Curtis in 1985. The very first Red Nose Day in 1988 was held in response to the famine in Ethiopia that killed one million people. Thirty million viewers raised over £15 million across eight hours of TV comedy.

Donations have since surpassed £1.5 billion, with funds raised to help people in the UK and around the world tackle poverty, and provide food, healthcare and safe shelter.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party, Henry tells us: "I'm not going anywhere, I'm just not going to host on the night. I might still make films for them and do voiceovers and things, but I think it's time for a newer generation to come and take the baton, because we've been carrying it for a long time.

"We've got some people, so it's gonna be really, really good. There might be some competition, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes. I hope they oil up and fight in the carpark!"

Lenny Henry holding a golden Red Nose next to his face a smiling, in front of a bright red backdrop
Sir Lenny Henry for Comic Relief. Rebecca Naen/Comic Relief via Getty Images

During almost 40 years at the helm, what have been his most special Comic Relief memories?

"Every single trip to the continent of Africa to make documentaries about what's going on there – how resilient, how enduring the people are and how they have got a sense of humour even in the worst possible times. Also, working with the Comic Relief team. They're so brilliant and hardworking, it's a tribute to them really.

"The main thing is the British public are legendary in terms of how much they've given, how much they've done, so I salute them."

Of how he's feeling, Henry adds: "I think it's good, change is good."

This year's Comic Relief launched last night with an online sketch, where Henry called celebrities, including Jonathan Bailey, Dame Joan Collins, Gemma Collins, Davina McCall, Simon Cowell and Alison Hammond, to ask about their fundraising plans.

Comic Relief – Live at the London Palladium will take place on Monday 26th February, with Aisling Bea, Fatiha El-Ghorri, Joel Dommett, Mawaan Rizwan, Rosie Jones and Sara Pascoe appearing alongside Henry.

See more photos from the Radio Times Covers Party 2024 in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, on sale Tuesday 6th February.

Comic Relief's Red Nose Day broadcast airs on BBC One on Friday 15th March – find out more information at the official Comic Relief website.

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