Radio 4 has always tried to do something for Comic Relief... but in truth we have not been at the centre of the BBC's fundraising effort and, in the run up to the night, Radio 1 is the main radio partner of the big BBC1 programme. But we've always done our bit to raise awareness of Comic Relief every time it comes around - and some good radio has come out of it. In 2005 we ran a competition involving The Archers which culminated with Victoria Wood playing a part in a special edition and last time (in 2007) listeners selected a man (Andy Hamilton) to present a Red Nose Day edition of Woman's Hour.
This year the Radio Comedy department came up with something different - and probably the best thing we've done for Comic Relief since its inception: Stand-up With the Stars. We paired four Radio 4 heavyweight presenters (Evan Davis, Libby Purves, Peter White and Laurie Taylor) with four celebrated stand-up comedians (Paul Merton, Shappi Khorsandi, Josie Long and Milton Jones). Each of the presenters gets coached and then has to perform a routine.
And then, after the second epsiode you (the audience) get to vote (and donate) to decide the best act which will be announced on the Now Show. A terrific idea. We've scheduled the programmes in a slightly unusual way too.
The real R4 philanthropy comes every Christmas from the appeal to raise money for the St. Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal for work with homeless people which also makes grants to people across the UK. This Christmas over £725,000 was raised and the weekly Radio 4 Appeal - which publicises a different cause every week - raises a similar amount across the year. A terrific amount - with a lot less profile and publicity than surrounds the big pan-BBC events (Comic Relief and Children in Need). Thank you to all who gave - and I hope you both laugh and donate for the current R4 Comic Relief enterprise.