Lenny Henry says we need Red Nose Day more than ever in 2022

Lenny Henry hopes to bring the nation together with laughter on Red Nose Day, Friday 18 March 2022. (Comic Relief/Getty Images)
Lenny Henry hopes to bring the nation together with laughter on Red Nose Day, Friday 18 March 2022. (Comic Relief/Getty Images)

Sir Lenny Henry has said we need Comic Relief more than ever in 2022 - to bring the nation together in laughter.

As stars including Dame Joanna Lumley, Hugh Bonneville, Harry Judd and Oti Mabuse appeared in a new video to launch Red Nose Day 2022, the co-founder of the comedy fundraising event said the public needed something familiar after two years of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Lenny, 63, told BBC Breakfast: "When everybody has not seen their mums and their grans, when everybody is struggling because of the pandemic, the fact there is something they can plug into that is familiar, that has heart and love and comedy at its core.

"We all love to laugh. I think Comic Relief provides a space we can gather together and watch things and go 'Well actually things aren't so bad, I'm going to help out with that."

Read more: The funniest Red Nose Day moments in Comic Relief history

He added: "That's what Comic Relief has always ben about - moment's of true sincerity where you are moved to something you wouldn't normally do.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: In this screengrab, Lenny Henry takes part in the BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief 'Big Night In at London on April 23, 2020 in London, England.The 'Big Night In' brings the nation an evening of unforgettable entertainment in a way we've never seen before. Raising money for and paying tribute to those on the front line fighting Covid-19 and all the unsung heroes supporting their communities. (Photo by Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images)
Lenny Henry hosted the BBC's Big Night In for Children In Need and Comic Relief in 2020. (Getty Images)

"I think the public's generosity in times of great hardship - when they see somebody that's worse off than themselves they just want to help. And it's something we should be very proud of."

A new spoof video of 'leaked audition tapes' for Red Nose Day, shows stars such as Absolutely Fabulous star Dame Joanna Lumley and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville auditioning for Comic Relief.

Bonneville is shown shouting into his mobile phone: "I can't believe this. I thought I was auditioning for the next Bond, not just another Red Nose Day thing."

Dame Joanna tells the camera: "Hello. I am, obviously I'm Joanna Lumley. And it's quite sweet of you to get me here today, but you probably realise, I don't have to audition for things anymore. I have cabinets, I have a whole cottage filled with awards! I don't think I have to audition anymore."

ENGLAND : Joanna Lumley and Lenny Henry on Red Nose Day 1993, England. (Photo by Comic Relief/Comic Relief via Getty Images)
Joanna Lumley and Lenny Henry on Red Nose Day 1993. (Getty Images)

Other stars to appear include Mr Blobby, reality star Jamie Laing and comedians Phil Wang, Rosie Jones and Jamie Demetriou.

But Sir Lenny then appears and says Red Nose Day is about the "the fantastic people at home" who fundraise for Comic Relief and urges others to get involved "no matter how big or small".

Sir Lenny co-founded Comic Relief in 1985 with film director and comedy writer Richard Curtis.

The charity helps people in need both in the UK and the Third World.

Comic Relief came under fire in 2019 when MP David Lammy accused TV presenter Stacey Dooley of perpetuating the ‘white saviour’ trope for being pictured carrying a baby boy in Uganda during filming ahead of Red Nose Day.

The charity has now said it will no longer send celebrities to Africa to film charity appeals.

Read more: Lenny Henry addresses Comic Relief’s decision to scrap Africa celebrity appeals

Red Nose Day 2022 takes place on Friday 18 March, with an evening of live comedy airing on BBC One.

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