Comic Relief 2023: David Tennant leads reassuringly traditional show that tugs at the heartstrings

With three hours to fill, the comedy was inevitably hit and miss. A sketch in which Tony Robinson’s Baldrick read the CBeebies Bedtime story couldn’t decide how bawdy it wanted to be. Watching with my children, I fretted that Robinson was only one quip away from a rude joke about his turnip. Instead, his riff on Cinderella finished with the princess turning into a skeleton upon encountering Baldrick’s smelly feet. After a 20 year hiatus, it wasn’t quite the fairytale comeback for which Blackadder fans might have hoped.

Better by far was a pastiche of backstabbing reality show The Traitors in which Dawn French impersonated Claudia Winkleman (“half woman / half fringe”). You have to credit the BBC for rustling up some impressive guests – among them Mary Berry and Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had fun telling Berry to “use the fork” as she tucked into a cake.

Tennant hosted throughout the evening. The presenting duties at Salford’s Media City UK were elsewhere split between AJ Odudu and Joel Dommett in the first 90 minutes and Zoe Ball and Paddy McGuinness for the concluding half. They were all appropriately perky – though McGuinness’s B*witched routine turned the wacky dial up to alarming levels.

A week ago, the BBC was having a bit of a Red Face Day as the Gary Lineker controversy rumbled ever onwards. Red Nose Day was far more agreeable. Ribs were tickled, money was raised – and there was even a singing Dalek. It wasn’t exactly comedy heaven. But as charity marathons go, this one crossed the finish line with a spring in its step. 

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