Comic Relief 2017: Debacle and Debauchery (Angry Rant)

As I start writing this piece it is 12:15am on a Saturday morning. I have just invested five hours in watching the Comic Relief broadcast – the purpose of which is to raise money to combat the route causes of poverty and social injustice. The money raised is used to help ill, malnourished and starving children across the world and victims of domestic abuse. I fully support these causes and the charity. With that being said, I am frankly disgusted by what I have seen on tonight’s broadcast and I am genuinely angry.

Let’s begin with the World Cup of Biscuits. Initially, this was a harmless bit of fun which began on Twitter. People would vote in a poll for their favourite biscuit out of a selection, the winners would move forward into the next round. This would continue until only one biscuit was left and was declared the winner. All harmless and silly fun, until some bright spark thought it was a good idea to have this segment with celebrities eating biscuits follow a film about starving and malnourished children dying in hospitals.

Let’s move along to Innuendo Bingo, the premise of which is self explanatory. This segment was broadcast after a hard hitting video of children being forced to drink dirty water because there was no alternative. In this segment, celebrities took it upon themselves to take clean water and waste it by spitting it at each other. Can someone please explain how this is appropriate? Also, can someone explain how this is comedy. Personally, I’d describe it as puerile. Before I forget, I should mention that we also had celebrities sitting in inflatable hot tubs.

Towards the end of my viewing, I had become considerably uncomfortable with what I had seen. Then began a chat show style segment with the world’s largest sofa, in an effort to break a world record. This segment was nothing short of a disaster and really started going down hill when Lenny Henry was forced to get of the sofa and physically shout and individuals in the balcony because they were making too much noise. Absolutely farcical.

Celebrity after celebrity was paraded on stage each of them carrying an alcoholic drink and many were already visibly drunk. They would be asked what they had done to support the cause, giving in depth responses such as “Lots. I’ve done lots.” When asked for elaboration, there was none and with each passing celebrity, the atmosphere became increasingly awkward and long silences ensued. Some celebrities sat openly plugging movies and West End Shows and others sat stuffing their faces with pizza. All the while asking the general public to donate money to help starving children.

No. I’m sorry. You’ve sat, plugged your show or whatever, got drunk and eaten pizza. You’ve made unfunny sketches with inappropriate humour and awful editing and sound quality and you think you have the right to ask me to make a sacrifice which you (despite being infinitely better off than me and many others) aren’t willing to make yourself? I don’t think so. That’s not how this works. (Note: I happily donated and supported the cause, without the need for celebrity cajoling – as did many others.)

Then, the tone sank even lower. We began discussing celebrities’ sex lives. On a show made to help raise funds to support the most vulnerable people, we’re drinking, advertising and talking about your sex lives. Not for me, this broadcast has well and truly forgotten it’s purpose. It’s jumped the shark so to speak and got so far off track, it has no hope of recovering. With this realisation, I turned off my television.

I would like to give honourable mentions to some moments in the broadcast which were genuinely superb. Firstly, Hugh Grant’s speech in the Comic Relief sequel to Love Actually was sublime. Given the recent events in London, this speech was very poignant and truly a thing a beauty. Secondly, a mention must be given to Ed Sheeran whose refusal to leave vulnerable children until they were safe (he personally paid for shelter for five children) and his refusal to be censored by the BBC put many others involved in the broadcast to shame. Finally, I would give a mention to Billy Connolly, who despite illness went above and beyond for the cause. His video packages, genuinely brought tears to my eyes.

To Hugh Grant, Ed Sheeran and Billy Connolly I thank you for providing some memorable and powerfully moving moments. Your are truly inspirational and I tip my hat to you all.

To the BBC and to the rest of those involved I say only this:
You’re a disgrace. Hang your heads in shame.

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