Comic Relief: Red Nose night raises record £75m

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Media caption,
Singer Jessie J had her head shaved: "It is the weirdest feeling"

Celebrities and the public have helped this year's Comic Relief charity telethon raise a record £75m.

Comedian Lenny Henry, a founder of the Red Nose Day fundraiser which is now in its 25th year, kicked off the live show on BBC One.

Music mogul Simon Cowell, singer Jessie J, comedian Peter Kay and boy band One Direction all made appearances.

There were also reinterpretations of hit TV shows the Vicar of Dibley and Call the Midwife.

And Ricky Gervais resurrected his David Brent character in a mini-episode of The Office.

David Walliams featured in a sketch alongside the likes of supermodel Kate Moss, footballer Frank Lampard, Hollywood stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Hugh Grant and veteran comedian Ronnie Corbett.

Meanwhile, across the country people dressed up during the day to help raise money for good causes in the UK and Africa.

Image caption,
Lenny Henry opened the show as Red Nose Day celebrated its 25th anniversary

The television broadcast began at 19:00 GMT, with Henry revealing a special gold Red Nose suit.

He said it had been "25 years of truly incredible fundraising, truly incredible comedy and... truly incredible suits".

Shortly after 01:30 GMT, comedian Russell Brand announced the money raised stood at £75,107,851 - passing 2011's total of £74.3m.

This year's total includes a government pledge to match the £16m Comic Relief has committed to help more than half a million of the poorest women and girls in Africa.

It will go on improving literacy, helping girls go to school, provide care for expectant mothers, help women farmers, promote women's rights and be used to help reduce violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls, such as genital mutilation.

The government had previously said it would give Comic Relief the equivalent of whatever VAT is paid on sales of the official Red Nose Day single.

Meanwhile, a Berkshire MP is donating £14,268 to Comic Relief after posting a Twitter message saying she would pledge £1 to the charity for every retweet.

Fiona MacTaggart, Labour MP for Slough, later posted that she had "no regrets" despite being "Twitter naive".

During Friday night's show, One Direction performed the single, a cover version medley of Blondie's One Way Or Another and the Undertones' Teenage Kicks, on the show.

Image caption,
French and Saunders threatened to hoover DJ Ken Bruce's head

Hosts on stage included Dermot O'Leary, Claudia Winkleman and Jonathan Ross. Former Doctor Who actor David Tennant and footballer David Beckham were among those to appeal to the public to make donations.

And singer Jessie J made good on a long-standing pledge to shave her head for charity.

Earlier, two of the UK's biggest comedy names, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, popped up on BBC Radio 2.

It saw them interrupt Ken Bruce's live show and "threaten him" with a vacuum cleaner.

Celebrities including Dara O Briain, Melanie C, Jack Dee and Greg James took on the five-day Hell and High Water challenge, travelling down the 100km Zambezi River to raise £1m for children in Zambia.

The group appeared on the telethon to tell viewers about their experiences in Africa.

Others to help out included Miranda Hart, who completed a "Mad March" challenge each day this week in different cities across England.

She also organised a real-life wedding ceremony in a matter of hours for Claire Gilchrist, 26, and Ben Springett, 28, at Old Marylebone Town Hall in central London - she only found out on the morning that she had to do it.

After the ceremony, she said: "The pressure was on but it was about Claire and Ben. I was determined to do the best I could so I got Michael Ball and the McFly boys and all these surprises for them to add to the occasion. I'm so thrilled."

Image caption,
Miranda's Mad March saw Hart (right) complete a series of challenges in different cities across England

Kay took on what he called the "toughest challenge ever undertaken for Red Nose Day" - forcing himself to sit down for practically a whole week.

Kay's challenge was shown during the live show, with the comedian making a triumphant arrival at BBC Television Centre.

There was also an appearance by James Corden, who reprised his role as Smithy from Gavin and Stacey.

Highlights from Mark Watson's recent 25-hour stand-up gig and Graham Norton's Big Chat talk show marathon were shown.

US funny man Will Ferrell appeared as San Diego "anchorman" Ron Burgundy in a one-off specially-recorded sketch.

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