CHILDISH Things is now an annual fixture in the Oxford calendar, attracting the biggest showbiz names each year.
But Oxford boy turned Hollywood star Tom Hollander remembers the beginning of it all, standing on the side of the stage, terrified to go on.
The 44-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean actor told the Oxford Mail: “That first one in 2004 was a special thing – it was just friends calling each other up and asking them to help.
“I remember being nervous. Some were less nervous – the comedians were fine.
“But the actors were terrified. We had a stellar line up but we all had nothing to say. I remember Bill Nighy and Hugh Laurie being very nervous.”
Despite the tension, the first event, which also saw appearances from Jude Law, Steve Coogan and Jeremy Irons, collected £40,000 for Helen and Douglas House hospice.
It has raised £300,000 and this year organisers hope spreading the event over three nights – two for comedy and one for music – will raise even more.
It is a subject close to Mr Hollander’s heart.
His young niece Imogen, who has cerebral palsy, has been a regular guest at Helen and Douglas House throughout her life.
He said: “It’s a special and magical place. It has done a lot for my family.”
Mr Hollander was a pupil at the Dragon School, before studying at Abingdon School and going on to Cambridge.
He has starred in blockbusters including Pride and Prejudice and Gosford Park.
He said: “Childish Things was and still is very much about Oxford. It brought together friends from my home life and friends from my industry.
“I had no idea it would become as big as it did. It has completely snowballed.”
He paid tribute to producers Kate Day and Lizzie Pickering, “without whom, none of this would have happened”.
This year’s line-up includes Michael McIntyre, Jamie Cullum, Jimmy Carr, right, and KT Tunstall.
Mr Hollander – who has just finished filming a vampire film with Gemma Arterton – hopes to attend in between filming.
Childish Things is at the New Theatre on February 27, 28 and 29. To book tickets, phone 0844 871 3020.