Entertainment & Arts

Comic Relief raises £1bn over 30-year existence

Claudia Winkleman and Lenny Henry reveal Comic Relief 30-year total Image copyright PA
Image caption The £1bn raised over Comic Relief's 30 years is said to have helped about 50 million people

Comic Relief has raised more than £1bn since the charity was founded 30 years ago, with more than £78m raised by the end of Friday's live show.

Red Nose Day 2015 coverage included a host of celebrities performing one-off sketches live on BBC One.

Host Claudia Winkelman said £78m was the highest total that had ever been raised on Red Nose Day.

Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis said he was "enormously proud" of the charity's achievements.

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

Rowan Atkinson and Dawn French also appeared, reprising their roles for Mr Bean and The Vicar Of Dibley.

Image caption Henry co-founded the Comic Relief charity 30 years ago

Comedian Lenny Henry kicked off this year's appeal, held for the first time at the London Palladium.

Henry – who co-founded Comic Relief with writer and director Curtis in 1985 – has hosted the show since it was first held in 1988. Before the show started on Friday, Comic Relief had raised a total of £960m.

By the end of the live programme, £78,082,988 had been raised - taking the total amount raised by Comic Relief to £1,047,083,706.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The sketch featuring Craig and Sir Roger exposed some revealing secrets

Richard Curtis, founder and vice chair 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."

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

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Media captionSome of the highlights of Dermot O'Leary's 24-hour dance marathon

Walliams' Little Britain character Lou appeared in another film alongside scientist Professor Stephen Hawking.

Other highlights of the evening included James Bond stars Daniel Craig and Sir Roger Moore in a 007 mockumentary.

David Walliams co-wrote the sketch, which also featured 007 director Sam Mendes and Skyfall actors Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw.

There was also a special guest appearance by Professor Stephen Hawking.

Earlier, Radio 2 presenter and X Factor host O'Leary raised more than £643,336 by gyrating non-stop outside BBC Broadcasting House.

When his fundraising total was revealed live on BBC One, he welled up with tears.

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Media captionSam Smith and John Legend speak to Lizo Mzimba about singing the official Comic Relief single

Asked by Lenny Henry about the state of his feet after 24 hours on the dance floor, he said: "They've seen better days, my friend."

O'Leary was supported during his dancing feat by hundreds of people who turned up to cheer him on.

Musical highlights of this year's show included performances from John Legend – who won an Oscar last month – and Grammy winner Sam Smith.

Early on Friday, Legend tweeted: "Just touched down in London Town! Excited to perform at Red Nose Day 2015 with @samsmithworld tonight!"

Image copyright comic relief
Image caption One Direction substitutes No Direction
Image copyright Empics
Image caption French's Vicar of Dibley was last seen in 2013
Image caption The Great Comic Relief Bake Off saw stars battle it out in the bake off tent

The classic Yorkshiremen sketch, famously performed by Monty Python, was recreated with a modern edge by John Bishop, Eddie Izzard, Davina McCall and David Walliams.

And a special edition of The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, presented by Jo Brand with Frank Skinner and Mary Berry, saw four Star Bakers from The Great Comic Relief Bake Off series compete against each other.

A series of short films also reminded viewers of the serious side of Comic Relief's work, with appeal films presented by Peter Capaldi, Olivia Colman, Idris Elba and Lenny Henry.

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said: "Comic Relief has crossed the billion pound threshold - a stunning achievement and a great tribute to the tireless work of Richard Curtis and the team.

Kevin Cahill, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: "We could not have done it without the generosity of the British public, the BBC, the many famous faces who do their bit and all of our wonderful partners, some of whom have been with us since the very beginning all those years ago.

"The commitment of so many amazing people is truly humbling. We would like to say thank you to everyone who played a part."

You can watch the BBC's Red Nose Day coverage on BBC Iplayer.

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