Comic Relief: readers reply

Last week we asked for your verdict on the red-nosed high jinks of Comic Relief. Here are some of the replies ...

Peter Popham's attack on Comic Relief was riddled with inaccuracies: Comic Relief patently does not trade on the war against famine or images of starving babies; and it raised more, not less, money last year. His argument seems to be based on the spurious proposition that since millions of people spend time, energy and imagination backing the Red Nose, this somehow makes the charity inefficient.

It isn't. Mr Popham implied that Comic Relief enjoys a privileged position with the media. Not true, it earns it! Comic Relief and Red Nose Day have attracted millions of viewers, enjoy widespread acclaim and have succeeded in entertaining and educating a generation.

Long may they prosper!

Alan Yentob

Controller, BBC1

Comic Relief reaches the parts other agencies cannot reach - young people. Not only do they give their pocket money, but they unselfishly organise fund-raising events which "go beyond the rattling tin", expressing a sense of world citizenship.

Television news gives us a distorted view of Africa. Comic Relief films go beyond famine and wars. Last year's film of a poor family's reunion in Mozambique showed us our common humanity in the face of tragedy.

Sadly, Comic Relief is one of the few ways these messages are broadcast on primetime TV.

David Bryer

Director, Oxfam

The question is not whether you need Comic Relief but whether Chol does. He is a six-year-old boy living in Sudan. His people have been at war with the government in the north since before he was born and there is no prospect of it ending before he becomes a man. His generation would be wasted without education, but 200,000 children are now receiving education, even in the middle of war, with the support of Save the Children, funded by Comic Relief.

So put a sock (full of porridge) in it.

Mike Aaronson

Director-general, Save the Children

Peter Popham says Comic Relief is a "remarkably inefficient charity". It is an organisation of 37 people that makes a "profit" of over pounds 20m in one day's "trading", off-setting all direct costs to third parties. It then uses these profits to invest in the skills and capacities of vulnerable communities at home and in Africa.

In the interests of efficiency it decided against becoming operational and chose instead to fund the work of other trusted UK charities. Oxfam and Save the Children, which Mr Popham chose to set against Comic Relief in his piece, are its two single largest beneficiaries - over pounds 41m to date.

"The rich men" behind it, do no more than show a little compassion and a huge commitment to building bridges between the British public and some of the poorest people in society.

Jane Tewson

Chief executive, Comic Relief

Kevin Cahill

Comic Relief director

Do we need Comic Relief? No, of course not. If comedy is "the new rock 'n' roll", then Comic Relief can be compared to Take That - popular, yet, in the final analysis, culturally (and aesthetically) redundant.

Oscar Wilde was right to state that (and I paraphrase) charity demeans those who give and those who collect.

Carl Taylor


The analysis provided in your article failed to give any reason why we shouldn't support Comic Relief, other than that the author didn't think Red Nose Day was very funny.

You point out, quite rightly, that the amount of money raised by Comic Relief is a drop in the ocean. All charities only contribute drops in the ocean of need, but most people recognise that without such drops we are left with more homeless people, a few more starving in Africa, and a few more ignorant people and more articles asking the question "Do we need Comic Relief?"

The answer (sadly) is, of course we do.

Victor Adebowale

Chief executive, Centrepoint

Yes, we do need Comic Relief. Not necessarily for the jokes and silly fundraising activities but for the precious air-time that is devoted to stories of development in action overseas. If the plug is pulled on Comic Relief, even fewer people in the UK would have the opportunity to learn about what positive developments can take place in Africa and beyond their own front door.

Anne Palmer


Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living