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Exclusive – Benedict Cumberbatch leads stars telling why Red Nose Day 2021 is the most important yet

The Sherlock actor calls laughter "a national medicine".

Comic Relief
Published: Friday, 19th March 2021 at 8:00 am

Here's something we never thought we'd see: Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch hanging out together, wearing red noses. But that's what Comic Relief is all about – celebrities doing odd things and making themselves look a little bit silly in the name of good causes.


With all the troubles of the past 12 months to wade through, it's understandable if the event isn't on your radar this year. But the great and the good of British telly, including David Tennant, Dawn French and Paddy McGuinness, are determined to make you laugh on Friday night, in the hope you might be able to spare a few quid for people who desperately need our help.

Read on to see why celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Joe Lycett and Shirley Ballas, believe Comic Relief is more vital this year than ever before.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch, Getty, SL

Talking exclusively to, Cumberbatch says, “It’s incredibly important to find humour and I think – without getting too personal – that we’ve all had difficulties and moments of separation anxiety from our family, members of our family who are ill, or those who could potentially be severely affected by this and in those moments you have to tackle it head on. You have to be pragmatic and caring and responsible, but you also have to find some vein of humour in it.”

The Sherlock and Doctor Strange star added, "I think laughter is a panacea, it’s always been a national medicine. I think people reached out for it in lockdown; and that relief is much needed now.”

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas, RT shoot, BD

Strictly's head judge fully supports Red Nose Day 2021. "We need laughter this year more than ever before," she says. "Putting a joke up in your window could put a smile on someone’s face who really needs it.”

Joe Lycett

The Great British Sewing Bee Joe Lycett

Comedian, host of The Great British Sewing Bee and all round nice guy Joe Lycett says, “Literally every bad thing that has happened to me in my life, I have been able to get around it with humour. Comedy is such a vital tool in all of our lives. I pigging love Red Nose Day. You get to have a right laugh and help people going through tough times as you do it. And after the year we’ve all had we need a laugh. This year the Red Noses are plastic-free, and I’ve tried one and looked absolutely stunning in it hunni, and so will you.”

Lenny Henry

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 09/03/2021 - Programme Name: Comic Relief 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *ICONIC General Release* The Comic Relief 2021 Night of TV hosts. Paddy McGuinness, Alesha Dixon, Sir Lenny Henry, Davina McCall, David Tennant - (C) Comic Relief/Claire Harrison - Photographer: Nicky Johnston/Claire Harrison

Of course it's no great surprise that Comic Relief co-founder Sir Lenny Henry, is supporting this year's event. But he understands it's a unique time to host a charity fundraiser. “This year Red Nose Day will be a bit different. We all need cheering up, and of course we want to raise as much money as possible for people who really need it in the UK and around the world, but we also want to make you smile and bring you some laughter”

Katherine Ryan

Taskmaster winner Katherine Ryan
Getty Images

Comedian Katherine Ryan says Comic Relief is crucial this year. “Raising money by raising smiles and bringing more joy and humour into people’s lives is just what we need right now – I’m such a big fan of Red Nose Day and love what it stands for. I’ve been supporting the campaign for years now, and this year I think, yes we need you right now! It’s been a really strange and difficult time, I’m so happy be able to help raise money for people who are struggling.”

Alex Jones

Alex Jones The One Show

Alex Jones always supports Comic Relief in her role as host of The One Show, and she's thrilled to be backing this year's campaign. "Humour is the one thing that always unites us and it's what we all need right now."

Dame Judi Dench

Judi Dench at the Awards
Radio Times

Yep, you know it's important if Dame Judi Dench says so, “I absolutely and implicitly believe in laughter being the best medicine," she says. "I hope we all have a wonderful laugh [on Red Nose Day] and at the same time donate something as it goes to a very, very good cause”.

Mo Gilligan

Mo Gilligan
Yoshitaka Kono

The Masked Singer judge, Mo Gilligan is showing his support for this year's Red Nose Day. "There’s just something so special about laughter and its ability to bring people together. Comic Relief has never felt more needed!” he says.

Saffron Barker

The Circle - Saffron Barker

Star of The Celebrity Circle, Saffron Barker says, “There have been numerous times in my life when laughter has helped me through. As a child, I was in and out of hospital with hearing problems and my dad was always the one who would make me laugh, no matter how he was feeling. A laugh and a smile may seem so simple, but at times, it can make such a difference – and that's what Red Nose Day is all about."

Shappi Khorsandi

Getty, SL

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi says Comic Relief can provide a light in dark times. “No matter what, if you’re able to get that feeling of sharing a laugh with someone, then you’ve got a grip on who you are, and you’ve got a grip on hope.”

Karim Zeroual


Former Strictly star, Karim Zeroual says, “To me, Red Nose Day is all about having a laugh while raising money for those who need it most, and I can’t think of an easier way to help than by picking up some of the amazing goodies, like the red noses, if you can spare a little change.”


If you fancy donating to this year's Red Nose Day appeal, click here. Comic Relief 2021 airs on BBC One on Friday night from 7pm, and features sketches including the return of The Vicar of Dibley and a special episode of Staged. To find out what else is on telly, check out our TV Guide.


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