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Comic Relief 2021 on BBC1 — air date, celebrities and everything you need to know about the charity special

Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch have already got involved with the campaign.
Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch are among the stars supporting Comic Relief 2021 on BBC1. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Comic Relief 2021 is returning tonight, and BBC1 will air an evening of entertainment featuring plenty of great specials. As coronavirus continues to impact the world, Red Nose Day hopes to raise a few smiles during these difficult times.

Comic Relief co-founder, Sir Lenny Henry, said: "We all need cheering up, so this year Red Nose Day will be a bit different. Of course we want to raise as much money as possible for people who really need it in the UK and around the world. But we also want to make you smile and bring you some laughter over the coming weeks!"

The money raised by Red Nose Day will help tackle homelessness, hunger, domestic abuse and mental health stigma, and this year, will also assist those most affected by the pandemic.

Here's everything you need to know about Comic Relief 2021...

When is Comic Relief 2021 on TV?

Red Nose Day returns tonight, Friday March 19 on BBC1 from 7pm, hoping to raise both smiles and money to help vulnerable people across the globe. To celebrate community spirit amid the pandemic, this year they are launching Share a Smile, in collaboration with CBBC, to bring a little more joy to homes across the country.

The nation is encouraged to do something small and meaningful this year, such as sending someone a kind message, stick your favourite joke on your window for others to read, or do a random act of kindness to help a loved one.

Who is taking part in Comic Relief 2021?

The presenters of Comic Relief 2021

Paddy McGuinness, Alesha Dixon, Sir Lenny Henry, Davina McCall and David Tennant host Comic Relief's Red Nose Day. (Image credit: Comic Relief/Claire Harrison - Photographer: Nicky Johnston/Claire Harrison)

Alesha Dixon, David Tennant, Davina McCall, Paddy McGuinness and Sir Lenny Henry will present Red Nose Day.

“I love the way Comic Relief approaches raising funds for the projects they support. I’d do anything for them,” says McCall. “Hosting with Lenny is always a dream and the last time I hosted with David, I had a great evening. I had to explain to my daughter, who was in tears, how I ended up snogging Doctor Who!

What are the highlights of Red Nose Day?

A variety of sketches and musical performances will feature on the big night:

Staged

David Tennant is reuniting with Michael Sheen for a brand new Staged episode, which will also feature Sir Lenny Henry.

The Vicar of Dibley

Dawn French is also bringing back her iconic The Vicar of Dibley character Reverend Geraldine Granger for a special one-off episode, as Geraldine accepts her parishioners’ fundraising challenge to lipsync to Lizzo’s Juice, while real-life vicar Reverend Kate Bottley appears.

2020: The Movie

This epic spoof disaster film examines the events of the last tumultuous 12 months as stars including Keira Knightley, Michael Sheen and YouTuber KSI play everyday heroes.

Comic Opera

Charlotte Church has 24 hours to help five comedians unleash their inner opera divas before they perform to the nation alongside the English National Opera’s chorus and orchestra.

Jack Whitehall’s Zoom Meeting

The comedian sets up a video chat with the likes of Olivia Colman, Anya Taylor-Joy and Guz Khan, but expect plenty of technical glitches... 

All By Myself the Music Video

In a cheeky take on the opening scene of Bridget Jones’ Diary, Mel Giedroyc gives us her best Bridget as a host of other celebrities also sing all by themselves.

Normal People Vs Fleabag

Normal People’s star-crossed lovers Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) team up for a must-see confession with Fleabag’s Hot Priest (Andrew Scott).

Top Gear – Radio 1’s ‘Kids Ask Difficult Questions’

Radio 1’s Jordan North tries to keep control as Top Gear hosts Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris are grilled by some inquisitive children.

The Great Comic Relief Prizeathon

Jason Manford and Amanda Holden continue the Red Nose Night fun at 10.45pm with an entertainment show featuring star guests, sketches and prizes. 

What other shows will air to raise money for Comic Relief?

Gordon Ramsay and Gino D'Acampo in Gordon Ramsay's Bank Balance for Comic Relief

Luciano and Gino D'Acampo take part in Gordon Ramsay's Bank Balance for Comic Relief. (Image credit: BBC)

A variety of Comic Relief shows will air in the week leading up to Red Nose Day:

Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance Saturday March 13 6pm

Gino D’Acampo and his son Luciano put their wits and nerves to the test in a celebrity special of Gino’s pal Gordon’s tense game show. ‘It was great fun to have Gino and Luciano on the show,’ says Ramsay. ‘Clearly, Luci gets his brains and his beauty from his mum, that boy is smart!’

Ready Steady Cook Red Nose Day Special Wednesday March 17 BBC1 times vary

Rylan Clark-Neal tries to keep order in the kitchen as the professional chefs are joined by Robert Rinder and Stephen Mangan for a fun cook-off.

Billy Monger’s Big Red Nose Day Challenge Thursday March 18 BBC1 9pm

A powerful documentary follows the racing driver, who lost both legs following a crash in 2017, as he walks, kayaks and cycles over 140 miles in four days. The total he has raised will be announced on Red Nose Night. ‘It has been the toughest, most exhausting, most incredible four days of my life,’ says Monger. ‘I’m super-proud.’

Rob Brydon’s Now That’s What I Call Comic Relief Thursday March 18 BBC2 10pm

The Would I Lie To You? star looks back at some of the best musical sketches and performances from Red Nose Days past. 

Is there a trailer? 

Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch have joined forces for a short film about the power of comedy, which features appearances from comedy legends like Katherine Ryan, Shappi Khorsandi and Mo Gilligan.

This year there's an epic giveaway too, which can be entered here. If you donate you could win a 1-year Disney+ membership, a 1-year cinema pass, a Samsung 65-inch 8k Ultra HD Smart TV, a Bluetooth Wi-Fi Cinematic Sound Bar, £100 Deliveroo voucher + Popcorn, Disney Goodies, a one-of-a-kind Raya and The Last Dragon drawing from an artist at The Walt Disney Studios.

How can I get involved in Comic Relief 2021?

To donate head to bbc.co.uk/rednoseday

There's lots of ways to safely fundraise this year, including the return of the charity's iconic Red Nose. These can be bought from the official Red Nose Day shop or in-store at Sainsbury's. The theme of this year's nose is The Great Outdoors, and there's 10 different characters to choose from. They're all 100% plastic free too.

You can also pre-order a fundraising pack which provides support and ideas for how to fundraise during the pandemic. They've also created a quiz that can be enjoyed virtually, if you fancy putting your knowledge to the test and raising money for a good cause while you're at it.

Other ideas include a sponsored walk or run, selling art or other creative projects, or a virtual gaming tournament with friends or family.