BBC’s Sport Relief has returned after a two-year absence and it’s got big ambitions, writes Dylan O’Neill
BBC Sport Relief returns to our screens on March 23, aiming to raise money for various charities across the UK and the world.
Since 2002, Sport Relief has amassed over £335 million in total and this year the fundraising event is looking to break the £72.5 million mark it hit back in 2016.
After its 2017 break – due to alternating years with Red Nose Day – the event returns for another night of fun-filled sketches, challenges, and even celebrity boxing matches, including Made in Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews and former Chelsea and England defender Wayne Bridge.
Another of its main aims this year is to encourage the public to get out and get active, an positive step towards fighting obesity in the country. The ‘Billion Steps Challenge’ was conceived, with Sport Relief urging the public to accumulate “one billion steps a day, every day” together from March 17 to the culmination of the event on March 23, when the BBC will host their yearly Sport Relief event on national television.
The show this year takes place in Salford at MediaCityUK, alternating from its 2016 venue Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Liz Warner, Chief Executive of Comic Relief, says she’s “absolutely delighted” with the location for the 2018 event, further stating that “as the home of BBC Sport, it gives the night a true regional character and makes it more distinct from its sister Red Nose Day”.
Among those taking part this year are ex-Ireland international goalkeeper Shay Given. He recently confirmed his involvement in an event where he will attempt to save countless penalties from the public in a grueling 12 hour shift between the posts.
Speaking on the challenge ahead the 41-year-old said: “I’ve faced my fair share of penalty takers in my career but to do it solidly for 12 hours takes on a whole new dimension. The challenge will be a real test of endurance but I’m up for it!”
It's time to put your football boots on… @sportrelief needs YOU! ⚽
Make sure that you head down to The Piazza here at MediaCityUK on Friday 23rd of March to support Republic of Ireland goalkeeper @No1shaygiven and his 12 hour-long penalty shoot out. pic.twitter.com/975L9NDsK8
— MediaCityUK (@MediaCityUK) March 5, 2018
Given’s sentiment is in no doubt shared by all involved as an event like this is a task of monumental standards, but no more so than for the people organising it behind the scenes.
In order to maintain the consistently high quality standard of guests and presenters a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure the availability of these stars for one of the biggest BBC fundraising events of the year.
Celebrity guests from across the UK are often sourced from all fields for Sport Relief. A handful of humorous and engaging sketches are often filmed with big stars and this year will be no different. BBC Sport Relief 2016 saw stars such as actor Idris Elba, musician Tom Jones and comedian Jack Whitehall all take part. This year we will see much of the same as Team GB Olympic gold medalist Samantha Quek and television presenter Kirsty Gallagher have already been announced that they will take part in BBC Radio 5’s ‘Live-A-Side’ event, with many more big names expected.