In 1988 the UK had its first Red Nose Day, also known as Comic Relief, and has held one every two years since then. Red Nose Day is generally held on a Friday in March, but the fundraising starts much sooner than that, with celebrities, and ordinary people doing outrageous things in the name of charity. On the actual night it's more like a telethon, always starring Lenny Henry, who along with Griff Rhys Jones and Jonathan Ross started the whole thing off in 1988. The telethon lasts all night, and sometimes branches out onto some of the other main terrestrial UK channels. These things always attract a lot of UK celebrities who are willing to embarrass themselves publically for a night.
Money is raised by the crazy antics of the general public, merchandise and donations on the actual night. The merchandise is changed every time, especially the red nose.
Traditionally it was just a plain old plastic red nose sold year after year, but to introduce variety (and to stop people using the same nose every two years) they changed it.
We have seen red noses that fit onto the front of your car, green noses, furry noses, colour changing noses and squeaky noses. The nose for this year is set to be unveiled later this month amid much fanfare.
More recently there have been pop singles released in the UK before each Red Nose Day, usually they are supposed to have some wacky theme and a crazy, 'hilarious' video.
The first one I remember seeing was Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy. The last one was French and Saunders doing the Spice Girls. This year Westlife have released a cover of Billy Joel's Uptown Girl for Comic Relief. It's a note for note carbon copy of the original, and I have yet to discover the joke. Maybe the video is really funny or something.
This year's is Friday, March 16th by the way.
14/02/01: The adverts have started, the slogan: "Say Pants to Poverty". (Thats pants as in underwear for those in the US). In the ad everyone is wearing their pants on the outside of their clothes, I'm not sure if this is to drive home the message or whether they expect everyone to do that on March 16th.
The nose has a small face on it with a tongue, when you squeeze it the tongue sticks out.