If you’ve been wondering why a Red Nose is used to celebrate Comic Relief’s main event, Red Nose Day, we’ve done some digging into the symbol’s history.

Each year that Red Nose Day rolls around, you’ll see everyone from school kids to celebs sporting the iconic red-coloured accessories. They have been a part of the event since the first event then called The Plain Red Nose, which was held on Friday, February 5, 1988.

Ahead of this year’s fundraising event airing Friday, March 17 on BBC, let’s take a look at why this is used as one of the charity’s main symbols.

Photo by James Stack/BBC/Comic Relief via Getty Images

Why a Red Nose on Red Nose Day?

A Red Nose is the iconic symbol of Comic Relief’s main event as it represents part of a traditional clown costume. Comic Relief believes in the power of laughter and so it seems only fitting use a clown costume to promote their charity.

When Sir Lenny Henry and Love Actually director Richard Curtis met to discuss the concept of Comic Relief, they were looking for a bold and fun charity symbol. But they also needed it to be something people could wear. Not only would this help raise funds for the charity but it would help spread its message. Thus, the Red Nose was selected.

This year sees a new design introduced

As Comic Relief continues down a more environmentally-friendly fundraising route, they have introduced a new design for this year’s red accessory. Sir Jony Ive, the brain behind the iPhone and iPad designs, has created the New Red Nose. A red crescent unfolds to become a honeycomb-paper sphere. This means that it can be made of almost entirely plant-based materials and is more efficient to package and post.

The charity switched to a plastic-free design for the first time ever in 2021. But this next step sees them take the planet into greater consideration.

Previously, the accessories were available to purchase at Sainsbury’s, Argos, and Oxfam. Now, Comic Relief has partnered with Amazon as the official retailer of their new designs. This helps them expand their reach and increase the amount of Noses that people can order in bulk.

More merch to help fundraise for Comic Relief

While the red ball to stick on your nose is the most iconic of all the Comic Relief merchandise, there are several items you can wear to help fundraise.

The Comic Relief online shop currently has t-shirts, sweaters, and stickers for sale. Each year, a range of Mr Men and Little Miss designs feature as part of the Comic Relief fundraising drive. They can be purchase through the online shop or at TK Maxx stores. Fashion consultant Gok Wan has also designed a t-shirt exclusively for TK Maxx for this year’s Red Nose Day.

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