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Comic Relief review

Nicola Mostyn thinks it’s all come down to celebrity ego massage

Published on March 17th 2009.

Comic Relief review

I’ve got an idea for the next Comic Relief. Instead of all the comedy, they should just show back to back clips of Denise Van Outen, Davina etc weeping over the poor children dying of TB and HIV. And make it illegal to switch over. The only way you would be able to stop the vaguely nauseating display of celebrity anguish is to pledge ten pounds to the cause. Once you do, the TV would automatically switch to Monty Python, or a documentary about fish. I’m telling you, it would work. Twenty minutes in, forced to watch, say, Sharon Osborne snotting self indulgently over an African mother who has just buried her fourth child, the nation would be united in donating just to get the crap off our screens.

Sorry. Went a bit mad there.

But, really, there was something slightly disturbing about Comic Relief this year, like the celebrities had become more important that the kids and lack of water.

They were certainly far more important than the people around the country doing daft things for Comic Relief. It was all Cheryl Cole climbing Kilimanjaro and Fern Cotton fainting at the horridness of it all. And the footage of the needy – the sick children or the victim of domestic violence - were incongruously slick, like M&S Food ads but with the ill or abused replacing the profiteroles and oak-smoked salmon. Not nice.

But I did enjoy Comic Relief does The Apprentice which was at least entertaining.Facing up to a challenge to create a new toy, it was girls v boys with Jonathan Ross, Jack Dee, Gok Wan and Alan Carr being lead by Gerald Ratner and Patsy Palmer, Carol Vorderman, Fiona thingybob off GMTV and Ruby Wax, managed by some shouty Scot who designs underwear.

“There are a lot of comedians on board which I like because I like laughing,” said Ratner, then proceeded to fail to crack a smile the whole show. Ross, Carr, Dee etc showed themselves to be just as lovely as you’d imagine them to be in real life. So did the women. That is to say, if you were trapped in a lift with them for more than half an hour, you’d be using one of their stilettos to poke your brains out through your ears.

The teams threw themselves into the task. The boys had the idea of some collectible characters you could hook on a belt – Swap Belt. The girls went a bit more touchy feely. “What about a hugging suit?” asked Palmer. “It makes a noise when they hug each other?” This was met by a stunned silence.

“Or a Velcro suit” suggested Ruby. “So they could stick to each other?” They went with this and, as they set about getting the design together, Patsy was soon proving herself to be even more annoying than in Eastenders, sulking because nobody was telling her what she should be doing, and then sulking because Scottish Michelle told her what to do. “Do you want to just zip it, because we don’t need this right now?” said Michelle when Patsy got stroppy.

I thought I was going to see the first Comic Relief bitch fight. Not a money raising idea to dismiss out of hand.

Once their products were made, they had to present them to an audience of industry experts. The boys were hilarious. The girls, cringeable. Someone pointed out that boys aged 5-8 probably wouldn’t want to stick various parts of their body to other boys. Or girls, for that matter.

“They shouldn’t have a problem with intimacy,” screeched Palmer, inexplicably receiving a round of applause when surely the correct response was that someone should have mounted the stage and hit her with a chair.

Sadly the girls won, because the boys’ idea, fabulous though it was, would cost ridiculous amounts to make, whilst a Velcro suit, crap idea though it may be, would be a cinch to run up. Sir Alan sacked Alan Carr, though personally I’d have laid the blame at the door of Gerald Ratner – the man who ruined his own company by calling its products “total crap” and whose contribution to the task was to stare around like Eeyore in a suit.

He was amusing, though. Which is more than can be said for a lot of Comic Relief.

Other highlights from the evening included a great Facebook sketch by Idiots of Ants, the sight of Ronnie Corbett falling off a treadmill and a wonderful Royal Family special in which the family discuss the temperature of Jim’s balls.

Low lights included Little Britain, the increasingly annoying and increasingly ubiquitous Matt Horne and James Corden from Gavin and Stacey and a celeb version of the Full Monty. I don’t want to see Minty from EastEnders naked. I don’t really want to see him clothed.

But I hope you donated anyway. Next year, how about 24 hours of Minty from EastEnders projected directly on to your eyelids, slowly stripping off his overalls? Pledge twenty pounds or you’ll end up with his tackle dangling in front of your retina for ever and ever. Charity would be easy.

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30 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mostyn FanMarch 17th 2009.

I'd have pledged more if they'd injected the mountaineering slebs with malaria for a week.

scoteeeMarch 17th 2009.

Regardless- it raised a fortune ,far more than anything Manchester Confidential were prepared to do even after being given an opportunity to support the event .The quick after thought of chucking a link in on Friday's city news after the acknowledgement that they had clearly done nothing on the day did look rather un-empathetic. It’s good to know that some of the "egos" at Man-con continue to have the audacity to slate those who clearly give a dam! Should Manchester Confidential have made the effort to raise huge funds themselves, perhaps this article wouldn’t make me squirm. Your complete lack of support for an event such as Comic Relief warrants this as ill thought through opinionated drivel. A tasteless article, poorly timed and badly judged.

James MMarch 17th 2009.

Dig, can we have individual flying pods as well and those things Bones wafts over people in Star Trek that immediately heals cuts. Can we? Please say we can?

CaroleMarch 17th 2009.

I agree with emma Grace about Jack Dee's quip re the chair count. I also think that, although Wossy was a bit of a waste of space (forty-odd-going-on-fourteen), I would definitely have fired His Most Uselessness, Gerald Ratner! How DOES he get through the day?!!

emma graceMarch 17th 2009.

However much is left after expenses, it's still more than there would have been had there been no Comic Relief.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2009.

This article is final straw that will lead me to never want to read Manchester Confidential ever again. I am sick of the cynicism that is produced by your journalists, who clearly do not check for spelling and do very little research. How can you have the nerve to slag something off that has managed to raise £60 million for a good cause?? Yes there are cringeworthy moments where you think, 'There is more to Africa than this' but thats not what the project is about. Also, 40% of the money goes to community projects in the UK which would not exist if it were not for Comic Relief funding. If they were celebrities who did nothing and refused to take part in Comic Relief you would still bad mouth them. Why don't you try and be a bit more open minded and a lot less pretentious - you might get more readers!!

DigMarch 17th 2009.

We should have a world relief every year. All the money raised from all over the planet would go towards building several canals across Africa. Eventually, in years a network of canals would criss cross the continent allowing seawater to flow around, people to travel more freely, more trade to happen and eventually eradicate the droughts and African 3rd world debts. You may say I'm a dreamer.....

Big MamaMarch 17th 2009.

I understand your comments about the celebs but sadly we live in a celeb culture and generally are influenced by them in a way "we" wouldn't be by ordinary folk. I would vounteer in an instant to go make the films in Africa - I was born in Tanzania and possibly have some understanding of how things are over there. But I am guessing a film of me with some disadvantaged and grieving Mums would not get the response that Davina might and people would be asking - who is that nobody crying over ill and dying babies?It is what it is and at 60 million quid - it obviously works. If you had seen at first hand the misery of some of these people's lives then perhaps you would have more tolerant of any means used to generate the cash and the interest to help them.

emma graceMarch 17th 2009.

on Gordo? me likey

scoteeeMarch 17th 2009.

Did Rosie just use the tuesday word? Ha ha! you gotta love a girl that can refer to the extremeties of life's frustrations like that" well done Rosie, and yes I do condone it!

comic relief fanMarch 17th 2009.

scoteee and emma grace, you're spot on. why do people always have to resort to cynical rants when it comes to things like this. fact is they raised a fortune. if you think what they're doing is wrong then either don't donate or come up with a better idea. gjh and 'Anonymous' above you - fundraising helps, there's no doubt about it. Maybe some money goes missing into the African govt, but most of it clearly gets through. Do you have any better ideas to help than raising £60m?!

JennMarch 17th 2009.

Err, I think 'Sharon' was used to allude to the fact that Cheryl does have a bit of 'chav' about her!EDITORIAL COMMENT: Thanks Jenn, it was probably just a mistake oops.

emma graceMarch 17th 2009.

Jack Dee saying to Alan Sugar, "I think you need to fire the person who counts the chairs, as each time I've been in this room I've not had a chair", got a laugh out of me!

wayneMarch 17th 2009.

Yes but what about the meggins vote? Where do people stand on that?

city manMarch 17th 2009.

fair comment anonymous, maybe if comic relief advertised they would get a better write up?

DigMarch 17th 2009.

Flying pods have been invented. So have canals believe it or not. There's already a big one in Africa called The Suez which was opened in 1869. What's wrong with looking at the bigger picture? Building for the future. There's no chance for Africa if everybody has your attitude James.

KellyMarch 17th 2009.

It's Cheryl Cole not Sharon. Your diatribe will have more impetus if you get your pronouns right. EDITORIAL COMMENT: Thanks we've changed this.

TV FoolsMarch 17th 2009.

I can't stand the way celebrities ruin these things and I really don't think that the celebrities make us pay more. AND DAVINA MCCALL IS THE DEVIL-ESS

DavyMarch 17th 2009.

..and then there was the shocking piece of news (that only the Beeb bothered to broadcast) about the boy who was sent home from school because he had dyed his hair for red nose day - because of course the institution that is the BBC "allegedly" thinks it improper that rules and regulations aren't broken in favour of its pathetic creations (RND) that not everybody wants (they weren't so quick at responding to "alleged" fraudulent prime time telephone entry compys, the successful candidates of Blue Peter and of course Jonathon Loss and Russell Bland.

gjhMarch 17th 2009.

no - not end of. there are massive structural failings in the worlds attitudes to others and economic structure. we don't worry about them because we give our quid to which ever muppet is on comic relief, bouncing about like a clown on market st etc - does anyone think that more money is what Africa needs? However it is the only currency we can talk in, anything else would involve engaging. So...in summary - lots of charity is actually bad and not a force for the good, irrespective of the self serving & promoting hovel that it has become in the media. i mean paying to play tennis with elton john?

emma graceMarch 17th 2009.

I'm not a Heat reader or celeb follower by any means, but like it or not it raised £60m for charity. End of.

KershanMarch 17th 2009.

Thank god someone else is unamused by Horne and Corden. I thought it was just me. Has no one the heart to tell them they are not funny because they are cuddly? How did Gavin and Stacey win the very award that lets the show be constantly preceded by "award-winning"? They have probably found their niche with Comic Relief. And that Little Britain & Robbie Williams sketch was the more cringeworthy than anything David Brent ever did. Then again, CR was always an excuse for comedians past their prime (as if Lenny Henry and Dawn French ever had a prime) and mainstream celebs from BBC and ITV to show that they didn't take themselves too seriously. I've never been able to make the connection between doing daft things and giving money. Christ, I'm miserable. I'm going to stop this now ...

the interested oneMarch 17th 2009.

I was quite moved by the honest response of some of the people that went to Africa to show whats happening there. I thought Annie Lennox's one was about right, she has never been one to wallow is the poor them weepy thing, and she pointed out it was about helping these people, not trying to share their misery!Davina McCalls bit was awful however. Yes of course shes going to get upset when she sees a kid die. We all get upset and to suggest otherwise is unfair. To suggest we dont care if we dont give money also stinks.Did anyone else notice the female centred approach this year? they must have figured out they need to increase donations from women. TO suggest only mothers and women care about dieing kids, domestic abuse and childbirth deaths was disgusting however. Any normal person cares about these things the same amount, to suggest otherwise is wrong.Get the sexism and self indulgent weeping of McCall out of the next one and it will be a fine piece of appeal tv.

playwrite27March 17th 2009.

One wonders how the people at Man-Con would view this event, if it was they themselves--or a loved one of theirs, who desperately needed the help that Comic Relief provides---would you be still be so dully cynical,)and rather shallow, sorry but that's how you come off to this reader) if you lived in the real world, if you had a fully rounded life, if it was you, whom personally saw--and actually had the depth to emphasize--with the suffering of other human beings?

Charity CynicMarch 17th 2009.

Thanks for this article. I have felt for years like the only person who is cynical about Comic Relief and Children in Need and when I try and bring it into conversation, it's such a faux pas. I don't want to be bullied into giving my money or doing something kerazy (bath of beans etc.) I find it insulting that so called 'professionals' (Davina and her cronies) can't keep it together when the parent of a dead child is. The films were not about the families they were about the slebs, how dare Ferne Cotton faint whilst a child is dying, ok, I might have too, but it wasn't about her. I question the production teams involved in these films too, poking cameras in the faces of people too vulnerable to know otherwise. Let's face it, the mountain climb was not about raising cash but raising profiles, the cash was a just a touching by-product. I used to work at the travel company that had the Comic Relief account and the slebs were flown on fully flexible first class tickets (the most expensive you can get) I'd like to see some breakdown of spending, because ultimately £60m is not all that much after expenses.

emma graceMarch 17th 2009.

Christ, you all sound so cynical! Yes it's not great that we had to endure some of the worst examples of "comedy" and "entertainment" we've ever seen. And yes it's a bit sickening that whilst raising money for charity, it's also simultaneously massaging the ego's of the already rich and famous. But the fact is we live in a soceity that (for the most part) won't put their hands in their pockets and donate to charity unless a shiny, polished celeb beams at them through the tv screen and gives them a cheeky wink. But so what? It get's them to donate doesn't it? At least they are doing SOMETHING, rather than nothing, and I for one think that's something to be proud of.

rosieMarch 17th 2009.

i hate comic relief.the raising money bit is great.the washed out slebs and ego-boosting airtime they recieve is bloody annoying.i also hate being made to feel a c**t because i'm not handing over all my change in sainsbury's.much as i'd love to be able to support more charitable work,there are a couple of causes close to my heart that i donate cash to already.

MattyMarch 17th 2009.

I love people who say they will unsubscribe. This is a point of view isn't it that's valid in many ways. For one thing it's a crying shame that we need celebrities to do this sort of thing. It also is getting confusing with all the charitable days and celeb heavy events on TV. What if you give loads already, should you feel pressured into giving more when these are broadcast? It wasn't Mostyn's best article but it had it's moments and seems to fit with what Mancon is about.

beeMarch 17th 2009.

absolutely. it seemed to be bigger than ever this year and that's with me purposefully avoiding it. just a lot of mediocre 'celebs' acting up to raise their profiles with too few genuine funny bits. i hope none of my TV license was used to fund any of it.....

AnonymousMarch 17th 2009.

Does anyone know where the money actually goes? The most i have seen of African countries is a fraudulent government who take all the aid with no intention of helping the people in their country that really need it.

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