Comic Relief 2021: When does Red Nose Day air on BBC One?

Red Nose Day is back for Comic Relief's 35th year – here's everything you need to know about the charity telethon.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Judi Dench star in the Red Nose Day 2021

Red Nose Day – the biggest charity telethon of the year – is back to celebrate 35 years of fundraising and fun sketches, with the star-studded BBC broadcast airing live tonight (19th March).

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This year’s campaign has been fronted by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Lenny Henry as they’ve been discussing lockdown and the power of laughter.

“Red Nose Day will be different this year. We know that it’s hard financially for so many people right now, but we’d love you to join us – even if it’s just to share a laugh,” Henry said in a clip in the run-up to Red Nose Day 2021.”If we raise some money along the way then brilliant! We know that when times are tough, laughter can really make a difference.”

Alesha Dixon, David Tennant, Davina McCall, Paddy McGuinness and Sir Lenny Henry will be hosting tonight’s telethon, which features a number of sketches, parodies and musical moments from the likes of Dawn French, Jack Whitehall, Keira Knightley and the casts of Fleabag and Normal People.

Here’s everything you need to know about Red Nose Day 2021 – with a full schedule of tonight’s activities listed below.

When is Red Nose Day 2021?

Red Nose Day 2021 takes place on Friday 19th March, marking 35 years of Comic Relief.

The three-hour telethon will begin at 7pm on BBC One tonight.

There’ll be Red Nose Day events broadcast throughout the day on CBeebies and CBBC, culminating in an evening of live television on BBC One featuring live performances, hilarious sketches and one-off comedy specials.

How to watch Red Nose Day 2021: TV schedule

Roman Kemp
Comic Relief

On 19th March, BBC children’s channels such as CBeebies and CBBC will be celebrating Share a Smile – Comic Relief’s campaign to get the nation laughing by encouraging people to place their favourite jokes on display in their windows.

An interactive Red Nose map on the CBBC website will show just how smiley the UK has gotten, with the best jokes appearing across shows including Blue Peter, Saturday Mash Up, Newsround and CBBC HQ leading up to Red Nose Day.

While on the evening of Red Nose Day, BBC One will broadcast a live extravaganza hosted by Alesha Dixon, David Tennant, Davina McCall, Paddy McGuinness and Sir Lenny Henry, featuring live performances and sketches.

Red Nose Day
BBC

The BBC has now released a full line-up of what viewers can expect to see during tonight’s Red Nose Day spectacular, which includes the following:

  • A James Bond sketch starring Daniel Craig and Catherine Tate as “Nan”
  • Dawn French will be back as The Vicar of Dibley‘s Reverend Geraldine Granger
  • David Tennant and Michael Sheen will star in a Staged special
  • Keira Knightley, Michael Sheen and KSI among others will star in 2020: The Movie – a part biopic, part disaster film featuring your favourite celebrities.
  • Five comedians will be trained by Charlotte Church to become opera singers in Comic Opera
  • Comedian Jack Whitehall will be gathering some of his famous friends for Jack Whitehall’s Zoom Meeting – a brand new video conference sketch
  • Mel Giedroyc channels Bridget Jones in All By Myself the Music Video – a parody of the Richard Curtis film’s opening sequence
  • Comic Relief will be encouraging the nation to get up and dance in this homage to Harry Styles’ Treat People With Kindness
  • Top Gear presenters Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris take part in a “very candid” interview with Jordan North for BBC Radio 1’s Kids Ask Difficult Questions
  • Comedian Tim Vine is surprising unsuspecting servicemen and women in Tim Vine’s Joke In A Box
  • US screenwriter Bob Gale brings Marty, Doc and Jennifer to the West End in a special performance of Back To The Future: The Musical
  • We’ll be revisiting highlights from virtual pantomime Comic Relief does Cinderella featuring Rege-Jean Page.
  • The stars of BBC Three’s hit shows combine forces for a special Normal People vs Fleabag sketch
  • British artist Charley Mackesy will be creating a beautiful illustration in Time Lapse of Comic Relief Drawing

Comic Relief will also be collaborating with The One Show in a challenge that will see two celebrity team captains go head-to-head in “a race with a difference”.

It was also announced in February that racing driver and double amputee Billy ‘Whizz’ Monger will attempt a 140-mile triathlon-inspired challenge in aid of Red Nose Day.

He told PA news agency: “What attracted me to do this was the fact I want to keep pushing myself and what I can achieve. After my accident it was a long road back, I was lucky that I was surrounded by close family, friends and received such amazing support from people.

“Throughout the challenge, I know I’ll need people to get behind me again to get me through and I’ll keep in mind that with every step, every mile it will help support those who need it most.”

Viewers can watch Monger’s journey in an hour-long special documentary which is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

In tears of additional programming, Jason Manford and Amanda Holden will, be hosting The Great Comic Relief Prizeathon – a new live entertainment special – tonight at 10.45pm, while Jools Holland chats to Sir Lenny Henry in a Red Nose Day edition of Later…with Jools Holland at 10pm on BBC Two.

Meanwhile on iPlayer, a Red Nose Day special of Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance, featuring Gino D’Acampo and his son Luciano, is available to watch, as is Rob Brydon’s Now That’s What I Call Comic Relief – a look back at the campaign’s best musical sketches and performances.

If you can’t get enough of all the Red Nose Day festivities and want to continue late into the night, DJ and fashion icon Gok Wan is hosting The Red Nose Rave – the official Comic Relief after party featuring three hours of dancing and entertainment from the biggest names in music, from Melvo Baptiste, The Shapeshifters and the Glitterbox performers. The party starts at 11:30pm tonight on Facebook Live and YouTube.

Comic Relief has also teamed up with ACast for a Red Nose Day podcast mash-up, with the RedHanded podcast doing a joint episode Drunk Women Solving Crimes, while Off Menu with Ed Gamble & James Acaster teamed up with Films To Be Buried With.

Similarly, The Horne Section – the podcast from Taskmaster’s Alex Horne – joined forces with Romesh Ranganathan’s Hip Hop Saved My Life, while Dane Baptiste Questions Everything did a cross over with Tom Price’s My Mate Bought A Toaster.

What is Red Nose Day?

Red Nose Day
BBC

Red Nose Day is Comic Relief’s biennial live telethon, usually held in March, which sees various comedians, actors, presenters and other stars take part in a number of performances, sketches and appeals to raise money for charities across the UK.

Founded by comic Sir Lenny Henry and director Richard Curtis, Comic Relief alternates between Red Nose Day and Sport Relief live appeals each year on the BBC and has raised in excess of £1 billion over the past 35 years.

The last event, which took place in 2019, lasted almost six hours, with Henry, Paddy McGuinness, Emma Willis, Zoe Ball, David Tennant, Alesha Dixon, Romesh Ranganathan, Clara Amfo, Rob Beckett and Joe Sugg presenting throughout the evening.

What charities is Red Nose Day supporting?

Sir Lenny Henry poses for a picture at FareShare, London.
Sir Lenny Henry poses for a picture at FareShare, London
Comic Relief

All Red Nose Day donations will go towards tackling issues such as homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse and mental health problems – all of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Money raised will support some of the most vulnerable people and communities in society who have been hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, including those now reliant on food banks, and provide vital funding to under resourced front line charities as they adapt and navigate through these difficult uncertain times,” Comic Relief says.

You can donate to Comic Relief by visiting the charity’s website, while at the new and improved Red Noses, which are now 100 per cent plastic tree and plant-based, are available to buy in local Sainsbury’s stores and at Argos.co.uk.

Those wanting to donate can also enter a Red Nose Day draw to win a Samsung 65-inch 8K Ulta HD Smart TV, one year of Disney+ membership, a year’s cinema pass, a £100 Deliveroo voucher and much more. All prizes are listed on Comic Relief’s prize page.

Read more: Benedict Cumberbatch leads stars telling RadioTimes.com why Red Nose Day 2021 is the most important yet

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Red Nose Day takes place on Friday 19th March. You can also check out what else is on with our TV Guide