Comic Relief is a British charity organisation which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and Alexander Mendis in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is a bi-annual telethon held in March, alternating as Red Nose Day. Comic Relief is one of the two high profile telethon events held in Britain, the other being Children in Need held annually in November.
Comic Relief was launched live on Noel Edmonds's Late, Late Breakfast Show on BBC1, on Christmas Day 1985 from a refugee camp in Sudan. The idea for Comic Relief came from the noted charity worker Jane Tewson, who established it as the operating name of Charity Projects, a registered charity in England and Scotland.
One of the fundamental principles behind working at Comic Relief is the "Golden Pound Principle" where every single donated pound (£) is spent on charitable projects. All operating costs, such as staff salaries, are covered by corporate sponsors, or interest which is earned while money raised is waiting to be spent distributed to charitable projects.
Currently, its two main supporters are the public service broadcaster - the BBC, and the supermarket - Sainsbury's. The BBC is responsible for the live television extravaganza on Red Nose Day, and Sainsbury's sells merchandise on behalf of the charity.
In 2002, Comic Relief and BBC Sport teamed up to create Sport Relief, a new initiative, aiming to unite the sporting community and culminate in a night of sport, entertainment and fundraising on BBC One. Sport Relief is a biennial charity event, and the campaign deliberately alternates years with Red Nose Day, Comic Relief's flagship event. Comic Relief occurs in odd-numbered years, and Sport Relief in even-numbered years.
In 2009, Comic Relief launched a website calling for a financial transaction tax, the "Robin Hood" tax.
Red Nose Day is the main way in which Comic Relief raises money. The first Red Nose Day was held in 1988. It is held in the spring every other year, and is often treated as a semi-holiday, with, for example, schools across the UK having non-uniform days. The day culminates in a live telethon event on BBC One, starting in the evening and going through into the early hours of the morning, but other money-raising events take place. As the name suggests, the day involves the wearing of plastic/foam red noses which are available, in exchange for a donation, from Sainsbury's and Oxfam shops.