Benedict Cumberbatch says laughter is a panacea, in Red Nose Day launch film

Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor

Benedict Cumberbatch describes laughter as a “national medicine” as he joins celebrities including Dame Judi Dench in a short film to launch this year’s Red Nose Day.

Alongside Dame Judi, comedians Joe Lycett, Shappi Khorsandi and others, the film sees them talk about how comedy and laughter has helped them in their lives.

In the film, which also features projects supported by Comic Relief, Cumberbatch says: “I think laughter is a panacea, it is and has always been a national medicine.”

Shappi Khorsandi
Shappi Khorsandi appears in a short film launching Red Nose Day 2021 (Tom Van Schelven/Comic Relief/PA)

He adds: “I think it’s a way of getting through life’s difficulties and also when you make light of something, often then it can just release the tension enough to breathe, to just have a moment’s respite from it, and that relief is much needed right now, there’s a reason why this is called Comic Relief.”

The Great British Sewing Bee host Lycett speaks in the film about how humour has helped him.

He says: “Literally every bad thing that has happened to me in my life, I have been able to get round it with humour.”

Comedian and TV star Mo Gilligan, currently on screens as a panellist on The Masked Singer, also features in the film.

Red Nose Day 2021
Dame Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch star in this year’s Red Nose Day fundraising campaign (Jacqui Black/Comic Relief/PA)

He says: “Every time I speak to my mum, which is pretty much every day, she’s the one who makes me laugh like the most.”

Star of the big and small screen, Dame Judi says: “I have just got myself into trouble more times than I can tell you by laughing in very serious moments.”

On Red Nose Day she said: “I look forward to it enormously and I hope we all have a wonderful laugh and at the same time, you know that if you donate something it does go to a very, very good cause.”

This year’s Red Nose Day broadcast will take place on March 19, with an “unmissable evening of television” featuring sketches, live performances and one-off comedy specials on BBC One.

Sir Lenny Henry
Sir Lenny Henry (Matthew Joseph/Comic Relief/PA)

Singer and TV star Alesha Dixon, David Tennant, Davina McCall and Paddy McGuinness will join Comic Relief co-founder Sir Lenny Henry in presenting on the night.

In the short film, Sir Lenny says: “Red Nose Day will be different this year, we know that it’s hard financially for so many people right now but we’d love you to join us even if it’s just to share a laugh.

“If we raise some money along the way then brilliant. We know that when times are tough, laughter can really make a difference.”

The money raised by Red Nose Day will help tackle homelessness, domestic abuse and the stigma around mental health.

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