Right of Reply: Kevin Cahill

The chief executive of Comic Relief responds to Terence Blacker's criticism of the celebrities who work with the charity
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The Independent Culture
TERENCE BLACKER'S piece in yesterday's Review section of The Independent is utterly depressing. Does he really find it impossible to believe that there are people who can really do things for altruistic reasons?

There are those people who actually do care what happens to the many thousands living in abject poverty around the world, or facing disadvantage and discrimination here at home in the UK.

Comic Relief was founded by comedians who have spent 12 years trying to make a difference. They are neither short-termist nor opportunist. I have never in all my time working with the charity met one single artist who does it to build a career. It is an absurd notion. To build a career as a comedian you have to be funny, period.

Lenny Henry went to Somalia when it was the most dangerous place in the world. He did not do it to look good but to raise the profile of the poorest people there who were struggling to get on to the media agenda. And there's the rub. The media are celebrity-obsessed. I can't begin to number the times a journalist has lost interest in a story because I can't attach a celebrity face to it.

Let's get real here. The media tribe are the very people feeding the celebrity frenzy, and if we want to keep poverty and social justice on the agenda, we have to play the game.

No, Terence Blacker, this week is not a showbiz thing. It is a fundraising thing because we live in a world where there isn't enough cash to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

I, for one, am proud of the efforts made by comedians to give something back and who need knocking articles like a hole in the head. Self-interest? He must be joking.

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