Comic Relief: cast doubts and cynicism aside and stick a red nose on

Sam Wollaston
Sir Lenny Henry and Jonathan Ross present Comic Relief. Is that a hint of sparkle in Henry’s suit? Photograph: Gary Moyes/BBC/PA

It doesn’t matter if you’re suspicious of the motives of some of the people involved (is it really all about charity, or is there an element of self-promotion?). Or if you hated Love Actually first time round, so more of it is not funny at all. Perhaps you’re uncomfortable with the sleb/slum juxtaposition, or you’re not 100% convinced that the answer to poverty in Africa is Greg Davies shouting in a hot tub on the O2. But cast your doubt and cynicism aside, even if it’s for one night only. Shut up, stick a red nose on… too much? Well, stick your hand in your pocket at least, dip into your stash.

Fabulous opening sequence, a traffic jam dance routine, culminating in Ed Balls doing Gangnam Style. That’s got to be worth a tenner already hasn’t it? Text Yes to 70210. Inside the O2 Arena Lenny Henry and Jonathan Ross are dressed almost funereally in black suits. Or is that a hint of a comedy sparkly fleck in Lenny’s – sorry, Sir Lenny’s (and aren’t you jealous Gary Barlow). Here are more famous faces, everyone basically, ranging in height from Warwick Davis to Greg Davies. Miranda Hart roams with a trolley of wonderment, barging in jollily.

To LA, where there’s more traffic, and James Corden has Take That in the Range Rover – Gary B in the front, Howard and Mark in the back, singing their own songs in Carpool Karaoke. Yeah, that works, especially the second part where James tries to finally break them in America: handing out CDs, asking people if they’ve heard of them, doing a store performance in an optician – all small steps to the big time.

It was probably a mistake for French and Saunders to do their take on Carpool Karaoke afterwards, with Jennifer as Bonnie Tyler, Gladys Knight and Skepta. But then Dawn and Jennifer are Red Nose Day, almost as much as Lenny Henry is. It’s about the occasion and the history of the occasion, as much as it’s about the material and the performance. And it’s about the money, helping people in Africa and at home, have you called?

“Charity’s boring though,” says Catherine Tate as Lauren Cooper, who’s gatecrashed a group of fundraising schoolchildren. (Grammar school kids: the PM – the real one, not Hugh Grant – will be pleased). “Come on,” say Lenny. “It’s Red Nose Day.” Exactly.

The pre-cooked stuff is more successful than the live. Corden, Alan Partridge, Philomena Cunk, and Red Nose Day Actually. Live pizza-making, the world cup of biscuits and innuendo tennis are less successful, on television… hey, it doesn’t matter, it’s all brilliant.

Ed Sheeran’s in Liberia to find out, and to remind everyone, what it’s all about. And to choke up. Then he’s back in London SE10, to sing a song, do anything and everything he’s asked to do really. He’s going to get that knighthood before you Gary. And a sainthood. Ed’s the new Bob. Give us your money, please. Get on that phone. 03457 910 910. Or go online.

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