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Winners by a red nose: We look back at Comic Relief's best

It's seen the planet's most famous faces singing, snogging and shaving in the name of charity. Keeley Bolger looks back on some of the best moments in 29 years of Comic Relief

Not so long ago, fundraising meant rattling a few tins outside a shop or sitting in a vat of cold beans in the hope of earning some loose change. But with so many good causes and so many people challenging themselves to raise vital funds for charity, the pressure is on to do something bigger and better.

So it's no surprise that with long-standing telethon Children In Need fresh in our minds, and new fundraisers like Stand Up To Cancer and Text Santa also asking for donations, Comic Relief is doing more and more to grab our attention.

Thirty years on from when the appeal started - and 27 years after the first telethon was hosted by Lenny Henry - this year's appeal is chock-full of entertaining skits and increasingly inventive ways to help raise awareness and cash.

Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross and Jennifer Saunders are among the famous bakers donning their pinnies and throwing their cakes into the ring for the Great Comic Relief Bake Off.

Dermot O'Leary will dance for 24 hours solid and Mark Watson will exhaust his funny bones in a 27-hour comedy marathon.

On the sketch front, Peter Kay is resurrecting Phoenix Nights for a one-off special and there's more of the People's Strictly, which has seen big-hearted members of the public taking to the floor in a special version of the dance competition.

So far, so entertaining. But looking back, what are the appeal's finest TV moments? We find out.


Wearing a PVC jacket replete with a "Save Africa" slogan on the back, in 2001, comedy character Ali G tackled Victoria and David Beckham with his unique line of questioning.

Calling the former Spice Girl "Scary", he asked Mr B if he'd rather be in a relationship with Baby and then criticised the couple when they admitted that, no, they hadn't taught their "nipper" Brooklyn how to smoke marijuana. MILLION DOLLAR CHARM

Dawn French had one of the more enviable Comic Relief challenges. Back in 1995 she vowed to smooch with Hugh Grant, who was then at the height of his floppy-haired heyday, if the public donated £1m. When they did, French donned a dress held together by safety pins (a la his then girlfriend Liz Hurley), perched on a lip-shaped chaise longue and puckered up with the film star.


Back in 2009, James Corden (in the guise of his Gavin And Stacey character Smithy) put the English football side through their paces in a tough-talking team meeting where he called out bad hair choices, wooden goal celebrations and disappointing losses.

A few years down the line, Smithy was drafted in again to chair a meeting between Gordon Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Dermot O'Leary, Keira Knightley and Paul McCartney, to decide who would be going to present the appeal film.


The Catherine Tate Show favourite Lauren Cooper truly "bovvered" then-prime minister Tony Blair when she served his morning tea and biscuits during a sketch about her work experience placement at No 10.

After carping on about her trainers, parties and petty gripes, Blair told her to look at his face and see if he was bovvered. Priceless.


Unwilling to go to "a country where you have to have injections", Ricky Gervais filmed his spoof charity appeal at a BBC studio in London.

After being rumbled by co-writer Stephen Merchant (and later Jamie Oliver and Andi Peters), who called him out for being unethical, Gervais soon came around when he saw the profile-raising potential of being involved in an appeal. Cue ever more inappropriately shoehorned plugs for DVDs and products.


This year sees the return of Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) in Comic Relief special The Bishop Of Dibley. Back in 1999, the vicar had a very special encounter with Johnny Depp, who was in the rural parish shooting a film. Unfortunately Geri's plans for Depp to join her celebrity party go awry and a power cut means she snogs Robin Cook rather than the film star.


In this sketch, which had the nation in playground titters, Harry Potter (Dawn French again, this time wearing a pair of rounded specs and cape) learned the "truth" from wee wizard Ronnie Corbett; that instead of being a schoolboy magician, he was actually a woman with 44G breasts. Blimey.


It was a "no" from Simon Cowell when Olly Murs, Louis Walsh, Dermot O'Leary, David Walliams, Sharon Osbourne, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon all offered marriage in this skit.

In the end, the only person the self-styled music mogul would say "I do" to was himself.


Plucky pop star Jessie J went above and beyond the call of duty by pledging to shave off her trademark glossy black bob in 2013, raising a whopping £500,000 for good causes.


From going head-to-head with Sir Tom Jones in a battle of the sex bombs, snogging all of the Spice Girls and spoofing Michael Jackson's interview with Martin Bashir, host Lenny Henry (as well as Jonathan Ross) - has been the beating heart of Comic Relief since 1988.

  • Comic Relief, BBC One, Friday, 7pm

Five great causes helped by the telethon

Comic Relief has helped more than one million children in Africa and the world's poorest countries to receive an education

Funds raised from the Comic Relief appeal have protected six million people from malaria in Africa and helped three million people affected by HIV

The appeal helped to launch the National Domestic Violence helpline, providing vital support for those suffering from domestic abuse

Since 1988, Comic Relief has helped more than 120,000 children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking

The appeal has also actively campaigned for better rights for disabled people

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