Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day appeal has raised £63.5m, which is £9.5m less than was raised on the night in 2017, following a number of controversies this year.
Red Nose Day took place last Friday and included celebrities climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, a Danceathon and a sequel to Four Weddings and a Funeral titled One Red Nose Day and a Wedding.
Comic Relief expects more donations to come in over the coming weeks and the final total is typically about £10m above the amount raised on the night of the show.
The final total in 2017 was £82.1m, up from the £73m raised on the night.
This year Comic Relief has had to contend with criticism from a number of sources. Earlier this month it was accused of promoting a “white saviour” narrative when the documentary maker Stacey Dooley posted a photo of herself with a child on social media while filming in Africa.
Meanwhile in January it was criticised over the working conditions of people making its fundraising t-shirts. Workers at a Bangladesh factory which made the #iwannabeaspicegirl t-shirt were reported to have been paid just 35p per hour.
Comic Relief’s supplier accepted responsibility for changing the factory where the t-shirts were produced without telling the charity.
The year's show was also criticised as having a left-wing bias. The Mail on Sunday led with the frontpage headline “Comic Relief was ‘TV ad for Corbyn’” after Conservative MPs criticsed Comic Relief's portrayal of poverty in the UK.
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans is quoted in the article as saying: “This is an advert for Jeremy Corbyn and his brand of politics that will alienate a lot of people.
“This is a party political broadcast and that is incredibly dangerous. I know they want to raise funds but distorting the picture in order to do so is not clever and it runs the risk of dragging the BBC and the charity into politics, which is somewhere they really do not want to go.”
The first Red Nose Day took place in 1988 and has raised over £1bn in total since then. But this year’s figure is the lowest on-the-night total in recent years.
Prior to this year's £63.5m and 2017's £73.0m, the 2015 Red Nose Day telethon raised £78m and in 2013 it raised £75.1m on the night.
Match funding from the government has fallen in recent years. This year’s total includes £2m to support mental health programmes in Africa, but in 2013 the government pledged £16m and in 2015 it gave £10m.
Civil Society News asked Comic Relief it had expected the appeal night total to fall this year. In a statement it said: “We are thrilled by the public’s generosity. Our campaign has now raised a fantastic £64m and has also raised awareness of the important work we fund in the UK and abroad. We are so grateful for every pound we’ve received.”