Red Nose Day sets £74m record

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The Independent Online

A record £74 million had been raised for Comic Relief as the BBC's Red Nose Day extravaganza drew to a close.

A host of famous faces, including David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Susan Boyle and a quintet of comedians spoofing Take That, helped entertain viewers during the night.

The total so far - £74,360,207 - is the most raised on the night in Red Nose Day's 23-year history, and the figure is likely to rise.

One TV comedy sketch saw Gavin and Stacey star James Corden, in character as Smithy, pick up singer George Michael in his car as he tried to rally celebrities for a trip for Africa.

The skit also saw ex-PM Mr Brown joking with boy band JLS.

Last night the Government pledged £10 million to Comic Relief as Mr Cameron did his bit to help by making an appearance in a sketch.

The Prime Minister followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Tony Blair when he featured in the BBC One Red Nose Day extravaganza in a MasterChef skit.

Showing off his acting skills, Mr Cameron made approving noises as "chefs" Miranda Hart, Ruby Wax and Claudia Winkleman served him a three-course meal.

Winkleman's chilli con carne had tough competition though.

The Prime Minister said: "My wife does a fantastic chilli con carne. It's one of her specialities."

And he confessed that Hart's gummy bear-topped trifle was so alcoholic he felt the need to lie down afterwards.

In showing himself game for a laugh on the BBC show, Mr Cameron proved he was the true heir to Mr Blair, whose 2007 appearance saw him pitted against Catherine Tate's formidable Lauren Cooper character, famous for her "Am I bovvered?" catchphrase.

The funding promised by the Government on this year's Red Nose Day will go towards Comic Relief's work in improving health and education across Africa.

Its contribution matched Comic Relief's own commitment to spend £10 million in these areas.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "Even in these tough economic times, the British public has given an incredible response to Comic Relief's appeal, showing yet again their compassion and generosity.

"In response to this, the Government will provide extra support on taxpayers' behalf. The Government will come in behind the public's effort, to support and amplify the choices that British people have made.

"The extra support will mean Comic Relief can double their efforts in health and education so more children go to school and get a quality education, and more people have access to life-saving medicine and treatment."

Other highlights of Red Nose Day included comedians Alan Carr, Catherine Tate, David Walliams, Corden and John Bishop becoming would-be boy band Fake That, auditioned by real band Take That.

Another saw comedian Peter Kay, in character as singer Geraldine McQueen, team up with Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle for a duet.

Viewers also watched Kim Cattrall, Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Victoria Wood join forces for Uptown Downstairs Abbey - a spoof of the hit drama.

Yesterday, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles set a new world record by staying on air for more than 50 hours and raised more than £2 million for Comic Relief in the process.

The star started his broadcast on Radio 1 with sidekick "Comedy" Dave Vitty on Wednesday morning and finally came off air at 10.30am on Friday.