Comic Relief: 2011 Highlights

Critics who claim TV "rots your brain" have a point when it comes to some shows (Peaches Geldof, we're looking at you) but when coverage of the Japanese earthquake or charitable events like Comic Relief raise millions for those less fortunate it's hard to deny the benefits of our favourite little box. As is now tradition, celebrities have been out in force endorsing Red Nose Day through compelling spoofs, sketches and real-life stories. To ensure you don't miss the best bits (from the main night on Friday, and the shows leading up to it) here's an outline of the highlights...

The Red Nose Desert Trek
Kara Tointon, Olly Murrs and Dermot O’Leary are among the celebrities braving souring temperatures, treacherous conditions and blisters galore in this year’s Comic Relief trek. While they undertake their 100km African hike they visit suffering locals to highlight the plight of the people Comic Relief hopes to help. You can view clips here and watch the full show on Thursday at 9pm on BBC1.

The Inbetweeners
Anyone who’s watched the series knows these lads like a laugh--especially when it involves crude connotations and naughty bits. The staring actors embark on a road trip, in which they visit 52 of Britain’s most rudely-named locations. Highlights of this trip will be shown throughout Comic Relief’s main night on Friday, though the whole 30-minute special is already available on iTunes.

Doctor Who
There’s double trouble for The Doctor and his companions in a special mini-episode, filmed specifically for Comic Relief. In it, the TARDIS malfunctions, resulting in two Amy Ponds. This can’t be a bad thing, can it? Find out during the main show on Friday night.

All week CBBC presenters Sam and Mark have been searching for Britain's most talented musical youth club--or Glee club as they’re now known again. During Friday’s main show, the remaining nine groups will go head to head to see who’ll be crowned winner. Will they be as good as E4’s New Directions? Thong Song singer Sisco is (strangely) among the judging panel who’ll decide.

Usually, the soap’s Comic Relief involvement doesn’t extend past musical numbers. This year, however, EastEnders’ cast and crew take the occasion more seriously with a 10-minute storyline preview that raises awareness of some the charity’s biggest issues: child exploitation and sexual abuse.

Downton Abbey / Upstairs Downstairs
Period dramas are all the rage, so inevitably they’re going to be spoofed this Red Nose Day. Last Comic Relief Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders mocked Mamma Mia, this time around they’re among the comedians doing a crossover called Uptown Downstairs Abbey. This will be shown as part of the main instalment, starting at 7pm on Friday.

You’d think, given it’s Comic Relief, that the residents of Channel 4’s Chatsworth Estate would stop fighting for a bit? Frankly, we’d loved to have seen them do a sponsored silence! But during Shameless’ supporting slot on Friday, the characters are going to be brawling for charity in a Red Nose fight outside The Jockey.

The cooking competition is given a comedy twist when Miranda Hart, Ruby Wax and Claudia Winkleman take to the kitchen. Thankfully television hasn’t developed taste'o'vision yet.

Musical Highlights
It just wouldn’t be Comic Relief without a few musical performances! This year Adele, JLS, Take That and The Wanted are among those taking to the stage on Friday night. We’re told JLS’s will be particularly extravagant!

Comic Relief Late Night Lock In
If you’re a night owl you why not stay up and watch stand-up comedy from Jack Whitehall and Kevin Bridges? Friday’s TV charity event continues until 1.30am the following morning, during which time a number of these clips will be shown.

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