Comic Relief scraps celebrity storytellers following 'poverty tourism' complaints

Comic Relief has responded to criticism that it is fueling "poverty tourism" by parachuting celebrities into to disaster areas, halting the practice with immediate effect.

The final straw seems to have been an appearance by musician Ed Sheeran whose appeal for funds in Liberia was met with derision earlier this week after Labour MP David Lammy accused the musician of presenting Africa as a continent of mute "victims".

Responding to the fallout Comic Relief chief executive Liz Warner said the organisation would now change, beginning with an end to recruiting celebrity westerners in favour of giving Africans their own voice, while balancing tales of abject poverty with more uplifting reports.

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

The first film to benefit from this new approach is introduced by England star Rio Ferdinand although he does not appear in person, that honour goes to Elvis, an unknown Ugandan charity worker, who explains the complex situation on the ground directly.

Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis previously told The Drum what role the advertising sector can make in improving the lives of the world’s poorest, by helping to break stereotypical perceptions of Africa still prevalent in the West

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