Comic Relief 2011

As we enter the New Year, only recently having been urged by the BBC to empty our pockets for their annual Children In Need appeal, we’re now being urged to do it all over again for another worthy cause in the form of Comic Relief 2011 – cue Lenny Henry looking forlorn as he surveys the slums of Africa, cue various celebrities believing it is suddenly socially acceptable to unleash their lack of dance skills on the world … how dare you question the price of the licence fee!

Let me get the serious stuff out of the way first. Every year, Comic Relief helps thousands of people across Africa and the UK, restoring people’s sight, protecting families from malaria and providing education for children who have very little else where the average life span is just 35 years. So get your hand in your pocket, you miserable lot, and give to a good cause. Once you’ve done this, however, unless celebrity exhibitionism is your thing, then Friday 18th March is definitely a night you’ll want to spend in a pub as a host of “famous faces” remind us of the facts I have just outlined to you … interspersed with some middle of the road but very definitely politically correct comedy. Here’s a taste of what you can expect:

Let’s Dance: You can’t stop celebrities dancing these days. Every Saturday in the weeks leading up to this year’s “extravaganza”, we are being treated to what is essentially a collection of male comedians dressing up as women to see who’s the most appalling and then sending the most appalling into the hugely disturbing grand finale where there will be more of the same. The whole thing is hosted by Alex Jones of The One Show and Steve Jones of … of, well, I’m sure he’s famous for something, both of whom spend the duration of the show pretending it’s not awkward hosting a TV show with your ex and maintaining that every single act is “absolutely hilarious”.

Celebrity Trekkers: Coming soon to our screens will be a one-off documentary about what happens when you send an assortment of celebrities on a 100k trek through a desert. Think of it as a slightly more civilized I’m a Celebrity. The five day trek was completed a couple of weeks ago, featuring Kara Tointon, Olly Murs, Ronni Ancona, Dermot O’Leary and Craig David. Hearts are sure to bleed as it is reported many of the celebrities experienced “discomfort”, O’Leary even reporting that “my feet are ruined”. I’m sure the kids with no clean water to drink are brimming, with sympathy, I honestly do.

Famous, Rich and in the Slums: So when I first read that celebrities including Reggie Yates and Angela Rippon were being “stripped of all their possessions and left alone to live, work and survive in Kibera” I thought it sounded an excellent idea. Too bad it was only because they’re being followed by a film crew for a BBC documentary of the “moving” variety. Are there really any others where Comic Relief is concerned? I am assured, however, that the programme does its best to get the message across and is packed with some truly shocking statistics such as that 3 billion people live in abject poverty today and survive on as little as £1.50 a day; maybe it is worth a watch after all …

Radio 3 Concert: Something for the slightly more sophisticated among us is Radio 3’s Big Red Nose Show, which will involve a 100-piece celebrity orchestra trying to break the world record of the largest simultaneous playing of the kazoo. Promisingly the celebrities include Miranda Hart, Marcus Brigstocke, Stephen Mangan, Jenny Eclair and MANY others. You’re not sold on it yet, are you? What if I tell you that Basil Brush is presenting it … Oh yes, you’re there now, aren’t you?

So there you have it, music, dance and abject poverty, all thrown together to create this year’s fundraiser. Don’t forget to Do Something Funny for Money now, guys … because the chances are it’ll be a hell of a lot more entertaining than what they’re doing on the telly.

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