Belfast Telegraph

Comic Relief breaks £1bn barrier

Comic Relief has broken the £1 billion barrier with more than £78 million raised on this year's Red Nose Day alone.

Live coverage featured a host of celebrities perform one-off sketches live in front of the nation on BBC One. By the end of the show the total had reached £78,082,988.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the charity, which had raised £960 million over the course of its history before last night and has become something of a British institution since it began in 1985.

The show ended with the announcement that Comic Relief and Sport Relief combined had raised a total of £1,047,083,706 so far.

Host Claudia Winkelman said of the £78 million: "That's the highest total we have ever raised at the end of a Red Nose Day. Thank you so much."

The show kicked off with Radio 2 DJ Dermot O'Leary completing a 24-hour danceathon.

O'Leary finished up 24 hours of dancing outside BBC Broadcasting House, before dancing down Regent Street and ending up in the London Palladium, where the live coverage was being hosted.

Rowan Atkinson and Dawn French also made an appearance, reprising their much-loved roles for Mr Bean and Vicar Of Dibley sketches.

Comedians Johnny Vegas, Patrick Kielty, Vic Reeves, Jack Dee and Mick Helm also took to the stage tonight as No Direction - a spoof version of One Direction.

David Walliams reprised his Little Britain character Lou but taking on the role of his fraudulent sidekick Andy was instead renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.

Other highlights included a James Bond mockumentary suggesting Daniel Craig's real voice was that of a little girl, with his 007 growl actually the work of comic Alan Carr.

The comedy was, as ever, punctuated with harrowing films of stars including Dr Who's Peter Capaldi and comedian John Bishop visiting people in desperate situations in Africa and the UK.

A host of celebrities have been following the action, praising the event on Twitter.

Walliams said: "We work hard to bring you the best comedy we possibly can on Comic Relief but for me the most memorable moments are always the appeal films."

Simon Cowell wrote: "Now watching Comic Relief ... You have to hand it to these guys. Year after year they deliver."

Music star Labrinth said: "Thank you for having me Comic Relief hope we raised some good money today.... Make sure you donate guys."

Sam Smith, who performed a duet with John Legend during the show, tweeted: "What a magical evening. PLEASE DONATE!! Please!! It's so important xx"

Film-maker Richard Curtis, founder and vice-chairman of Comic Relief, said: "This is a very strange moment for me. When a bunch of comedians got together all those years ago we dreamed of raising a million or two, and never imagined the generosity that would be shown by the British public for so many years.

"Figures tell us that the billion pounds have helped around 50 million people in the UK and overseas, 50 million people whose lives have been changed or saved by the generosity of people they've never met. It's an extraordinary thing that we do in Britain and I'm enormously proud to be part of it.

"Our thanks to every single person who has ever done their bit over the last 30 years - both the funny and the money."

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