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Richard Curtis reveals ‘extraordinary and bizarre’ experience of Big Night In

Richard Curtis (Ian West/PA)
Richard Curtis (Ian West/PA)

Richard Curtis has said he was given three weeks to put the Big Night In show together and said it was “extraordinary and bizarre” to watch it from home.

The film director and Comic Relief co-founder praised everyone took part in the BBC One show, which saw the return of Little Britain, The Vicar Of Dibley and Catherine Tate’s schoolgirl Lauren and raised more than £27 million for charity.

Explaining how it came together, he told BBC Radio 2: “We got an invitation form the BBC Children In Need for us to do the show, and then we had three weeks – and I hope no-one presumes that we can do Comic Relief in three weeks next time.

Comic Relief 2020
Richard Curtis wearing the limited-edition Comc Relief t-shirt to raise money for charities fighting the spread of coronavirus (Richard Curtis/Comic Relief)

“You know, it was literally 20 emails to people we know, saying: ‘Can you help on this?’ Taking last year’s appeals and then just trying to find the people we were talking about who were vulnerable already, you know, how their vulnerability has increased?

“You think of homelessness at the moment and just think how much more complicated it must be, and then you know, you react to a deadline.”

He added: “For me the moment of the night was Catherine Tate and David Tennant doing their TikTok of I Knew You Were Waiting (by George Michael and Aretha Franklin), and the films were very moving.

“It’s so interesting to think about the people who this is affecting, not in the way you would necessarily think. The piece on domestic abuse, that was very interesting, that was probably the film that made the most money, then food, then people with underlying conditions, actually cancer patients who can’t say goodbye to their parents.”

He added: “Comic Relief’s job, I have always thought, is just to act as a facilitator as it were, to be a hand that reaches out, that says ‘I’ll take your money and I’ll hand it straight to where it’s needed’, and I felt lucky to be able to do that job last night.”

Describing watching the broadcast, he said: “It was really extraordinary, and bizarre for me.

“I was sitting in my house with an open phone into the gallery, watching the television and giving notes on the TV.

“But it was an amazing night, I mean the way the talent had all come together to produce stuff, that, you know, in some cases, like Little Britain, they hadn’t done anything for 10 years, the musicians, that Times Like These song was so fantastic.”

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