Belfast Telegraph

Russell Brand at US Secret Ball

Russell Brand insisted there wasn't "a hostile takeover" as the Secret Policeman's Ball headed across the pond to the US for the first time in its 36-year history.

British comics such as David Walliams, Eddie Izzard, Jack Whitehall and John Oliver took to the stage at New York's Radio City Music Hall alongside their American counterparts Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, David Cross and most of the cast of Saturday Night Live to celebrate the foul-mouthed joy of free speech.

Coldplay and Mumford & Sons were the musical performers at the fund-raising gala, which marked the organisation's 50th anniversary and was started by Amnesty International and Monty Python's John Cleese.

Actors Liam Neeson and Tim Roth were among the on-stage speakers for the show, which will be shown on Channel 4 on March 9.

Ben and David joked about the different meanings of words between the UK and the US, but shared the same views of CNN host Piers Morgan.

Three members of the Pythons - Eric Idol, Terry Jones and Michael Palin - each made far-fetched excuses for skipping the gig before claiming to be "the sixth Python" in pre-recorded video messages.

The Muppets' critics Statler and Waldorf made a cameo appearance, with Statler admitting: "It's a young curmudgeon's game now."

The first Secret Policeman's Ball was held in London in 1976, with the last one taking place in 2008.

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