Russell Brand comperes for Dalai Lama in Manchester

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Comedian Russell Brand and the Dalai LamaImage source, PA
Image caption,
Russell Brand has been a long-term supporter of the Tibetan cause

Comedian Russell Brand has fulfilled his role as an unlikely compere for the Dalai Lama in Manchester, as part of the Tibetan spiritual leader's UK tour.

Brand introduced the Dalai Lama's address entitled Century Of Dialogue - Stand Up and Be the Change.

The Dalai Lama's tour aims to spread the 76-year-old Buddhist's teachings of peace and understanding to youngsters.

Brand told the audience he had just met the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for the first time and found him "amazing".

The crowd at Manchester Arena was mainly made up of under-25s who were given free tickets for the event.

The Dalai Lama told the audience the future was in the hands of young people who could make change happen.

'Never give up hope'

"The 21st Century belongs to you," he said.

"My generation belongs to the 20th Century, it has already gone so my generation are ready to say bye bye.

"You are the main people who really create the better shape of the world so therefore I think quite certain this century can be more pleasant, more peaceful and more equal."

He said vision, warm-heartedness and determination were necessary to attain those goals and that young people were more open-minded.

Dialogue was the key to avoid violent conflicts, he said.

He continued: "At the age of 16 I lost my freedom. At the age of 24 I lost my own country. During these 50 or 60 years I have faced a lot of problems but I never give up hope. Hope based on truth, hope based on reason."

The Dalai Lama was asked what message he would give to the youth of Manchester following last summer's riots in the city.

He said he had written to Prime Minister David Cameron to express his sadness.

Demonstration and protests were sometimes warranted but never violence, the Dalai Lama said.

Beard tug

During the event Brand and the Dalai Lama appeared to form an unlikely double act.

At one point the Dalai Lama playfully tugged Brand's beard on stage, and the comedian responded: "Not really a lot I can do in a situation like this. I just have to go with it."

Brand described the Dalai Lama as "intense and sort of mellow, which is what you expect of someone who meditates five times a day".

He then said: "Going from junkie to Shagger of the Year...three times... to now introducing the Dalai Lama. It has been an interesting journey."

The Dalai Lama described Brand's introduction as "completely informal", and Brand responded: "Did you pick up any spiritual tips?"

The Dalai Lama replied: "I think your openness transfers wonderfully."

The pair went on to talk about their contrasting sleep times, with the Dalai Lama arising early in the mid-morning, something that was not typical of Brand's lifestyle.

"Day is for work, night is for sleep but you can do what makes you happy," said the Tibetan leader.

"Thank you for sanctioning my lifestyle," replied the comedian.

The comedian, who has been a long-term supporter of the Tibetan cause, thanked the Dalai Lama as the two-hour event drew to a close.

"I have found it very inspiring and helpful," he said. "We need to look within ourselves."

The Dalai Lama will also address young audiences at the University of Westminster, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Edinburgh Usher Hall, Caird Hall in Dundee and the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness during his 10-day tour of Britain.

He will meet Tibetan, Nepalese and Mongolian Buddhist communities, religious leaders and parliamentarians at Westminster and Holyrood.