Wednesday 19 December 2018

Comic Relief makes change to appeals after complaints of ‘poverty tourism’

An appeal fronted by Ed Sheeran for Comic Relief last year was accused of reinforcing white saviour stereotypes.

Ed Sheeran (Ian West/PA)
Ed Sheeran (Ian West/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Celebrities will take a back seat on Comic Relief’s on-location appeals following complaints about “poverty tourism”.

The moves comes after an appeal fronted by Ed Sheeran for Comic Relief last year when he visited Liberia was accused of reinforcing white saviour stereotypes.

The film won a Radi-Aid award, highlighting fundraising videos which reinforce cliches, with judges saying the video is “basically about Ed Sheeran”.

Now Liz Warner, chief executive of Comic Relief, which runs Sports Relief and Red Nose Day, told the Guardian that viewers will see a difference.

She said Sport Relief, airing on Friday on BBC1, will feature a different type of film.

“You’ll see the films we put into Sports Relief are a step towards that, towards change,” she said.

“People talking in the first person in their own voices, with local heroes and local heroines talking to us about the work they’re doing.

“You won’t see a celebrity standing in front of people talking about them. You’ll see people talking for themselves.”

It comes after the MP David Lammy wrote in The Guardian that Comic Relief had “tattooed images of poverty in the African continent” and “retains a narrow perspective that fails to convey the bigger picture of progress in the continent”.

Friday night’s on-location appeals will only be introduced and concluded by celebrities.

The show features Gary Lineker, Davina McCall and Ore Oduba kicking-off Sport Relief, while Kylie Minogue performs live.

Press Association

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