Belfast Telegraph

More than £30 million raised so far for Sport Relief

The celebrity-packed night of sports and celebrities has raised millions for worthy causes across the UK and overseas.

More than £30 million has been raised so far for Sport Relief, it was revealed during the BBC’s live charity broadcast.

The total around halfway into the six-hour show was announced to be £33,393,251, and looks set to beat the record-breaking amount raised in 2016 – £55,444,906.

The biennial TV extravaganza saw Davina McCall, Gary Lineker, Claudia Winkleman, Ore Oduba, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff take on hosting duties, while a number of other stars showed their support.

Kylie Minogue kicked off the show with a performance of her song Dancing, before joining other celebrities to man the phones and take charitable donations from members of the public.

American pop star Meghan Trainor was another high-profile star to answer calls before taking to the stage to add more musical entertainment to proceedings.

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Kylie Minogue

Hollywood actor Cuba Gooding Jr and former Doctor Who star David Tennant made emotional appeals to urge people to donate to worthy causes across the UK and overseas.

While sporting challenges and achievements were the leading focus of the show, there were also plenty of comedic moments, including a pre-recorded skit featuring tennis star Sir Andy Murray.

He was given a rude awakening by comic Michael McIntyre in the middle of the night in his hotel room and tested with a series of challenges.

One challenge had comedian Alan Carr recreate the saucy Athena pin-up tennis poster from 1976, and saw him show off his bare backside – his white skirt tucked into the waistband – to a bemused and amused Sir Andy.

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Sir Andy Murray's Sport Relief sketch

After incorrectly guessing him to be Eddie Izzard, Sir Andy laughed as he realised it was Carr.

Earlier in the show, it was revealed that BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James has raised £1,090,522 for Sport Relief for his completion of a gruelling bike and mountain challenge.

James climbed the UK’s three highest mountains and cycled between the distances, although he had to do it in two separate stints as adverse weather conditions forced him to pull out in early March.

He finally completed the challenge two weeks later after reaching the summit of Ben Nevis.

During the live appeal show, James said he is “done” with mountains but that he wants to keep working with Sport Relief in order to raise awareness of issues around mental health.

The One Show presenter Alex Jones also learned that a physical challenge she tackled had raised £799,991.

Jones, who gave birth to son Edward in January 2017, teamed up with four other mums from around the country for The Mother Of All Challenges, which saw them swimming, hiking, cycling, caving and running across the UK to help raise awareness of maternal health and raise funds for the charity.

Elsewhere, a celebrity boxing match between Countryfile’s Helen Skelton and Love Island star Camilla Thurlow saw Skelton crowned the champion.

The Strictly Come Dancing Sport Relief special was overshadowed by ex-footballer John Barnes’s performance of his beloved World In Motion rap.

He joined football stars Chris Kamara, David Ginola and Alex Scott on the Strictly dancefloor as they competed against each other while performing his part of New Order’s Italia 90 England anthem.

FA Women’s Super League player Scott and her partner, Strictly pro Pasha Kovalev, were announced the champions of the Strictly special.

It was also revealed that, in a rowing challenge with teams from the BBC and ITV competing against each other, the BBC had prevailed.

The televised event came after Liz Warner, chief executive of Comic Relief – which runs Sport Relief and Red Nose Day – told the Guardian that viewers will see a difference in their on-location appeals.

The charity had been criticised for its celebrity-fronted appeal clips and complaints were raised about “poverty tourism”.

Ms Warner said that Sport Relief will feature a different type of film, and will see “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.”

She added: “You won’t see a celebrity standing in front of people talking about them. You’ll see people talking for themselves.”

One of the first of these new films was introduced by Jones, and saw a young girl called Faith talk about her life in Kibera in Kenya, and how money raised by the charity has helped the region.

The move comes after an appeal fronted by Ed Sheeran for Comic Relief last year when he visited Liberia was accused of reinforcing white saviour stereotypes.

The film won a Radi-Aid award, highlighting fundraising videos which reinforce cliches, with judges saying the video is “basically about Ed Sheeran”.

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