From the first ever Red Nose Day in 1988 to the most recent in 2017, for almost thirty years now, comedians have been doing something funny for money! Join me for part one of a look through the Red Nose Day archives.
Spider-plant Man – Red Nose Day 2005
Although we don’t actually know who wrote Spider-plant Man (as is often the way with these fundraiser sketches), we do know that the original idea came about when some of the Blackadder gang thought about reviving the show. One idea that they came up with was ‘Batadder‘ , a superhero parody-type incarnation of Blackadder, complete with Baldrick as a Robin style side kick, that idea eventually became this sketch.
Rowan Atkinson stars as Spider-Plant Man, and there’s a twist because Jim Broadbent stars alongside him as a Batman who has fallen on hard times. There’s even a surprise Blackadder reunion at the end.
Mamma Mia – Red Nose Day 2007
One mainstay of Comic Relief is a TV or movie parody by French and Saunders. This one starred an army of celebrities: Miranda Hart (as the dim-witted director, who struggled to advise the cast on how to transition into a song – ‘just say anything’) Matt Lucas (as a clueless choreographer – ‘point at Demis Roussos’), Joanna Lumley and Mel and Sue, alongside Phillip Glenister, Alan Carr and… a swede as the potential candidates for the father of Sophie.
Mamma Mia was ripe for parodying, and with the sequel out recently, it’s a good one to revisit. There were some classic lines …’Chicken Tikka tell me what’s wrong?’ Although in my opinion the line: ‘None of these characters bare any resemblance to anyone living… or dead.’ was probably the best and most accurate!
Armstrong & Miller meet Mitchell & Webb – Red Nose Day 2009
You could call That Mitchell & Webb Look Vs The Armstrong & Miller Show the Blur Vs Oasis of sketch show nerds. However, there was never any actual feuding between these double acts! This was amusingly parodied in one of the sketches in which Alexander Armstrong cheerfully thanks Mitchell and Webb for the collaboration, before sending the message ‘kill them!’ after they’d gone.
Mitchell & Webb had actually originally been Armstrong and Miller’s writers back in the late nineties, and Ben Miller recently reunited with David Mitchell to guest star in Upstart Crow.
Here, it’s enjoyable to see them team up and gatecrash each other’s signature sketches:
Here’s a Mitchell and Webb bonus from 2007 Celebrity Numberwang Live:
Little Britain With Stephen Hawking – Red Nose Day 2015
Although some people think Little Britain has lost its relevance these days, few could deny the impressive feat of getting Stephen Hawking to agree to being pushed around by David Walliams in his role as Lou in place of Andy. Stephen Hawking was no stranger to making cameos in comedy shows – sadly this was one of his last before his death in 2018, but what a great one it was!
Here’s another Little Britain Red Nose Day classic: When David Walliams’s Dennis Waterman met the real Dennis Waterman:
Lauren meets David Tennant and Nan plays Deal or No Deal – Red Nose Day 2007
Catherine Tate is another comedian who has a huge back catalogue of Red Nose Day classics. (Including the Tony Blair sketch, remember that one?)
Lauren meeting David Tennant is one that sticks in most people’s minds. He comes in as Lauren’s supply English teacher, but Lauren is determined he’s 945-year-old time lord. Another Catherine Tate classic came when Nan met Noel Edmonds to play Deal or no Deal. It all ends just as you’d imagine – ‘Deal or no Deal? What a load of old s**t!’.
Peter Kay’s Novelty Singles:
You could almost define Peter Kay’s career with his contributions to Red Nose Day. Of the many, the simplistic ‘Amarillo‘ cover (which wasn’t even technically a cover) became iconic spending seven weeks at number 1 with 1.28 million copies sold in 2005. These days it’s become unfortunately dated by the appearance of Jimmy Savile. But, the ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)‘ duet between his Phoenix Nights’s character, Brian Potter and Little Britain’s Andy in 2005 (which also went to number 1) became almost as iconic. It was then followed up a few years later, with Peter Kay duetting with Susan Boyle on ‘I Know Him So Well’:
The Wrong Good Friday – Red Nose Day 1997
So short, so effortlessly brilliant, and now considered a Red Nose Day Classic! In 1997 Bob Hoskins starred in… ‘The Wrong Good Friday’!
Join me next time for part two! If you enjoyed these sketches then please donate to Comic Relief:
Part 2: https://adoseofdavidmitchell.wordpress.com/2019/03/12/the-greatest-red-nose-day-sketches-part-2/
This article also appears on Super Ink Arts https://www.superinkarts.com/blog