Will NBC succeed with the US version of Red Nose Day?

The Red Nose Day telethon will be coming to NBC on May 21. Here's a look at how the fundraiser has succeeded before in Britain, raising money for various charities.

No, those aren’t Rudolph noses people are sporting in May. 

Red Nose Day, the annual telethon fundraiser for British charity Comic Relief, is coming to US network TV. Long a television institution in the UK, Red Nose Day was first produced in 1988, and has included some of the biggest stars in Britain and the world. Past guests have included Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Daniel Craig, Elton John, Johnny Depp, Rowan Atkinson, One Direction, and hundreds more.

NBC will produce an American version of the Red Nose Day telethon Thursday. Celebrities including Neil Patrick Harris, Will Ferrell, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Aniston will reportedly be taking part in the three-hour program and “The X-Files” actor David Duchovny, Seth Meyers of NBC’s “Late Night,” and “30 Rock” star Jane Krakowski will host the event.

There will be live musical segments and comedy routines, but there will be pre-taped sections as well. Viewers have already gotten previews of some of these, like “Pitch Perfect 2” actress Anna Kendrick portraying hero Indiana Jones (played by actor Harrison Ford in four previous films) and Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones” singing about the large amount of characters who have met their end on the HBO program. 

The money that will be raised through Red Nose Day will be distributed to various charities, including Oxfam America, Feeding America, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Check out the full list on the Red Nose Day website here

How successful has Comic Relief been in Britain? According to The Independent, event host Claudia Winkelman said this past March that the newest telethon was the most successful night in the charity’s history with more than £78 million (about $122 million) raised. In its lifetime, the charity has raised an astonishing £1 billion (about $1.6 billion).

Guardian writer Zoe Amar says that Red Nose Day has kept itself relevant in Britain by appealing to young audiences with appearances by stars like YouTube personality Zoe Sugg. In addition, people seem to view taking part in the event as an enjoyable thing to do. “It’s this combination of family fun alongside emotive causes that make the Comic Relief brand such a memorable one,” Amar writes. 

And Forbes writer David Hessekiel says that at this point things are going well in America. "The biggest challenge so far has been that consumer purchases of red noses... have far exceeded what Walgreens, [the store where you can buy the noses], anticipated," Hessekiel wrote. 

The NBC Red Nose Day programming debuts at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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