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Friday, March 12, 1999 Published at 11:32 GMT


Red Nose Day squeaks into life

A Ginger production: Chris Evans and Geri Halliwell

A host of celebrities are taking part in Friday's Red Nose Day - with Comic Relief organisers hoping this year's appeal will be the their biggest yet.

Lenny Henry outlines plans for the celebrity show
The biennial appeal - to raise money for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the UK and Africa - came to a head on Friday night with a six hour charity TV show on BBC One. It features founding stars Lenny Henry, Dawn French and Griff Rhys Jones, as well as Ewan McGregor, Geri Halliwell, Chris Evans and Kathy Burke.

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 1 DJ Simon Mayo set the ball rolling with a 37-hour microphone marathon to break the record for the world's longest radio show. He started at 0900 on Thursday, and did not stop until 2200 on Friday.

The last Red Nose Day, in 1997, raised more than £27m, for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in Africa and the UK. This year's theme is record-breaking - and the team aim to break a record every 45 minutes during the TV broadcast.

Over four million of the charity's squeaking red noses have already been sold at shops across the UK.

EastEnder Paul Bradley with a Comic Relief Thought for the Day
Events held by the public include a man who walked around the streets of Glenrothes wearing boots filled with jelly, and a woman on the Isle of Wight who ate and drank only orange food.

Record-breaking TV show

[ image: Lenny Henry: One of the founders of Comic Relief]
Lenny Henry: One of the founders of Comic Relief
The main Comic Relief TV show comes live from BBC Television Centre in London and the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, where Griff Rhys Jones and Steve Wright will be trying to break the record for the most people ever gunged on TV.

Other events bought together Hollywood stars and British celebrities, as well as personalities from the BBC and its commercial competitors.

They included a one-off episode of The Vicar of Dibley starring Johnny Depp and the Duchess of York, Victoria Wood starred in a spoof Hetty Wainthrop Investigates special with stars from ITV's Coronation Street. A Doctor Who special was also unveiled - featuring Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson as the legendary time-traveller.

TFI on the BBC

[ image: Mariella Frostrup, Davina McCall, Emma Freud and Geri Halliwell (clockwise) launch the appeal]
Mariella Frostrup, Davina McCall, Emma Freud and Geri Halliwell (clockwise) launch the appeal
Meanwhile, Chris Evans bought TFI Friday from Channel 4 to the BBC for a one-hour Comic Relief special. Evans promised his Ginger Media Group will match every pound raised during the hour he is on air, and has challenged other companies to do the same.

Men Behaving Badly returned for a 10-minute special, while Have I Got Buzzcocks All Over sees host Angus Deayton referee Phill Jupitus, Jo Brand and Meatloaf taking on Nick Hancock, Phil Tufnell and ITN newscaster Carol Barnes in a special news, sport and music quiz.

Other celebrities to appear included Elton John, David Bowie, Woody Allen, Matt Damon, John Cleese, Whitney Houston and U2 singer Bono.

Geri Halliwell talks about her trip to Uganda
There will also be reports on how Comic Relief money is helping the needy - including former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell's trip to Uganda to visit a literacy camp for women.

"When I got there I just started crying. The way these women welcomed me was just fantastic," she recalled.

"They knew I was from the West to help them with this project where they educate women to read and write. We might take it for granted, but 50% of people in Uganda cannot read and write, and most of those are women. It was fantastic how it changed their lives. "

Strict rules on record attempt

[ image: Starting his marathon broadcast]
Starting his marathon broadcast
At Radio 1, Simon Mayo passed the 24 hour mark at 0900 on Friday having spent the night in unlikely partnerships with alternative music guru John Peel and world music host Andy Kershaw.

His record attempt was strictly monitored, according a spokeswoman for the station.

"There has to be two witnesses in the studio at all times, and the whole show has to be videoed and sent back to the Guinness Book of Records for checking," she said.

Each record played has to be no less than two minutes long, and no more than six minutes long, while there are conditions laid down as to the amount of news and other items that can be introduced.

The event was supported by record companies, who donated £100 for each hour to Comic Relief to have their songs played by Mayo.

Mayo could also be watched during his stint via a camera on the Radio 1 Website.

Red Nose Day 1999: The Record Breaker runs from 1900 to 0100 on BBC One on Friday.

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TFI Friday Comic Relief Special

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