Sport Relief is a biennial charity event from Comic Relief, in association with BBC Sport, which brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to raise money to help vulnerable people in both the UK and the world's poorest countries. At the heart of the campaign is the Sport Relief Mile.
In 2002, Comic Relief and BBC Sport teamed up to create a new initiative, aiming to unite the sporting community and culminate in a night of sport, entertainment and fundraising on BBC One. The idea initially came from Peter Salmon, the then Director of Sport at the BBC, and Kevin Cahill, the Chief Executive of Comic Relief. The campaign deliberately alternates with Red Nose Day, Comic Relief's flagship event.
The first Sport Relief show was presented by Gary Lineker, Ulrika Johnson, Jamie Theakston and Clare Balding and included Stephen Fry hosting a special edition of They Think it's a Question of Sport, John Inverdale and Suzi Perry resurrecting the classic 1970s series Superstars and the first ever bout of celebrity boxing when Bob Mortimer beat Les Dennis.
Other items were Sport in the Square where cast members from EastEnders and Holby City/Casualty took part in a series of sporting challenges, Runaround, with Johnny Vegas, music from Gareth Gates and Will Young and contributions from Nick Hancock, Patrick Kielty, Angus Deayton, Ronni Ancona, Alistair McGowan, Audley Harrison, Alec Stewart, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sir Steve Redgrave.
One of the highlights of the campaign came at the end of the final of the Stella Artois tennis championship when there was a surprise additional match for Sport Relief between the Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Pat Cash against Ilie Nastase and Alistair McGowan. Blair and Cash won the specially reduced set 4-1. Tony Hawk was the courtside commentator and the game was shown live on Sunday Grandstand.
The second Sport Relief was on Saturday 10 July 2004. the main show was on BBC One from 19.00 - 00.30. The first half was presented by Gary Lineker and Gaby Logan and the second half by Jamie Theakston and Tess Daly.
In the first half of the show (19.00 - 21.00) Cilla Black hosted a celebrity version of Inter-Channel Superstars where the BBC squad took on teams from ITV, Ch4 and Five, the stars of Strictly Come Dancing performed a special routine to a re-mix of iconic BBC Sport theme tunes, Bruce Forsyth was on hand to present a cheque, Patrick Kielty was live in the studio to talk about the Indian railway project he had visited, Rachel Stevens performed the Sport Relief single, Some Girls, Dick and Dom introduced Ray Stubbs being swung from a crane into a giant ball of dung and Stephen Fry hosted another edition of A Question of Sport Relief.
While the News and Lottery were on BBC One, there was a brand new show on BBC Two, Stars in Fast Cars which featured Alan Davies, Jodie Kidd, Patrick Kielty, Jimmy Carr and Darren Jordon competing in a variety of car related races and stunts.
The second half of the main show was back on BBC One from 21.30 to 00.30. Angus Deayton looked at Sports Stars in adverts, Lionel Richie and Badly Drawn Boy performed live in the studio, Jon Culshaw unveiled his Wayne Rooney impersonation, and Paul Whitehouse's Ron Manager interrogated David Beckham about his texting technique. Eamonn Holmes was the host when Rugby took on Football with teams that included Dion Dublin, Lee Sharpe, Martin Offiah and Matt Dawson and in this year's celebrity boxing Ben Fogle beat Sid Owen. Colin Jackson, Sir Steve Redgrave and Arsène Wenger were amongst the sporting names who also appeared live on the show.
The show also included highlights of some of the Sport Relief Miles which had attracted 81,000 at giant and local events in all parts of the UK. Jo Brand was on hand to represent them and talk about her experiences at the Brighton Mile.
Throughout the night there were also a whole series of appeal films to show where the Sport Relief money had already been spent and where the need was greatest. They were made by BBC Bristol and included Nick Knowles in Africa, Patrick Kielty in India and Victoria Beckham in Peru.
The campaign itself involved 253 celebrities and raised £16 million.
The third Sport Relief took place on Saturday 15 July 2006 with a whole day of programming across the BBC that culminated in the main evening show on BBC One at 7pm. Gary Lineker, Chris Evans and Davina McCall were the hosts for the entire evening.
Once again the programme came live from TC1 at Television Centre and featured its biggest line up of names to date.
The second half was back on BBC One from 22.30 to 01.00. It included golf legend Nick Faldo competing against Lineker and Evans in a comedy pitching competition on the roof of the studio where they had to get their balls into the mouths of giant cut outs of Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck, the second part of A Question of Sport Relief, Jon Culshaw's live performance as George W. Bush, Catherine Tate in a new football sketch as "Nan" from The Catherine Tate Show and Sir Steve Redgrave and Colin Jackson taking part in a live power pint competition. There was also the last ever edition of Footballer's Wives which had been transferred from ITV for the night and included a guest appearance by Graham Norton, Jose Gonzales performed in the studio, several members of the Sport Relief Red Socks cricket team were there to talk about their tour to India, including Harry Judd, Nick Hancock, Nick Knowles, Jack Russell and Phil Tufnell whilst Derek Acorah stared in a new sketch based in the Match of the Day studio. The third Sport Relief celebrity boxing bout was won by Jack Osbourne who defeated the formed SClub7 singer Bradley McIntosh. It was presented by Mark Durden-Smith with Dave Spikey as ringmaster.
British pop band McFly covered the hit song "Don't Stop Me Now (1979)" originally by Queen as the official single for the event. It reached #1 in the UK singles chart.
Sport Relief moved to March in 2008. BBC One's night of fundraising was held on Friday 14 March and the Sport Relief Miles will take place all around the UK on Sunday 16 March. It was presented on stage by Richard Hammond, Gary Lineker & Davina McCall. Bruce Forsyth & Tess Daly presented Sport Relief Does Strictly Come Dancing. Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson & James May presented Top Ground Gear Force. Jimmy Carr presented A Question Of Sport Relief with the team captains Sue Barker and Gary Lineker. Sir Alan Sugar presented Sport Relief Does The Apprentice. There were occasional appearances by Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Sir Michael Parkinson, Patrick Kielty, Claudia Winkleman & Tess Daly
The BBC presented another version of Sport Relief Does The Apprentice with 10 celebrities. Also, new for this year, a special episode of Strictly Come Dancing was shown.
The final total raised on the television broadcast was £19,640,321. During the telethon, a mystery donor donated £5.5million to the charity, and is believed to be the single, largest donation to any telethon in the UK.
Coming in March 2010
The Sport Relief Mile was devised by the BBC's Sport Relief producers Martyn Smith and Jon Rowlands and was created to give the campaign a focus with an event that was open to anyone to run, walk, jog, wheel, bounce or crawl, regardless of ability or age. It was also designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister's sub four minute mile.
81,000 people took part in the first Sport Relief Mile, sponsored by Fitness First, in 2004. Sainsbury's is now the official sponsor of the Mile.
In 2006 more than 423,000 people took part in the Sport Relief Mile, making it one of the biggest mass participation events in history. The Sport Relief Mile Show on BBC1 on the morning of Saturday July 15th was presented by John Inverdale and Colin Jackson and drew an audience of almost a million with an 18% share.
Televised Miles were also held in Brighton, Southampton, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle/Gateshead, Leeds, Hull, Nottingham, Birmingham and Ipswich.
The first Sport Relief single in 2002 was Your Song by Elton John and Alessandro Safina, reaching number 4 in the chart. In 2004 Some Girls by Rachel Stevens made it to number 2 and in 2006, the third ever Sport Relief single, Don't Stop Me Now/Please Please by McFly, was released. It reached #1 for one week, selling 36,496 units (week ending 29/7/06). It was announced on 15 January 2008 that the 2008 Sport Relief single will be by Leona Lewis with her singles Footprints in the Sand, though it was officially released as a double a-side with Better in Time .
|Release Date||Title||Artists||Highest chart position reached|
|July 2002||"Your Song"||Elton John and Alessandro Safina||No. 4|
|July 2004||"Some Girls"||Rachel Stevens||No. 2|
|July 2006||"Don't Stop Me Now/Please Please"||McFly||No. 1|
|March 2008||"Better in Time/Footprints in the Sand"||Leona Lewis||No. 2|
In 2006 David Walliams swam the English Channel to raise money for Sport Relief. He trained for 9 months with Professor Greg Whyte of the English Institute for Sport and was also helped by the "King of the Channel", Mike Read, chairman of the Channel Swimming Association. Walliams's feat was documented for a BBC programme called Little Britain's Big Swim. David also swam the Gibraltar Strait for the 2008 campaign.