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Richard Curtis hails ‘extraordinary’ generosity after Red Nose Day raises £42m

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Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis praised the British public for their “extraordinary” generosity after the charity’s Red Nose Day celebrations raised more than £42m.

Tom Holland, Courteney Cox and Lulu were among the special guests who performed during the night of comedy, dance and music on BBC One.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast on Saturday, screenwriter Curtis thanked those who had donated to the charity, which he founded in 1985 with Sir Lenny Henry.

He said, “The highlight is all the comedy, and we know that in advance, but then (there’s) the outpouring of generosity when you hear the phones ring and people are still being generous and enjoying the show.

“Even after all these years, I still think there are four of us here and we helped 11 million people last year.”

Curtis, whose films include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Really, said the night’s gross will continue to “shoot up,” adding: “You just think as the night goes on and the money keeps coming in, you think that it is an extraordinary public that is being extraordinarily generous”.

Comic Relief chief executive Samir Patel praised the “legendary generosity of the British public”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Times are tough. We’ve had a pandemic, the cost of living crisis, the situation in Ukraine, and we’re so grateful for every pound that’s come in, and that’s the amazing thing – people will go out and help other people in times of crisis.”

Reflecting on the total, Patel added: “We’re completely in awe, given everything that’s going on, at the number of people who have come out to support other people.”

It was announced after midnight that the show had raised £42,790,147 with some additional donations yet to be counted.

Sir Lenny Henry, David Tennant, Paddy McGuinness and Alesha Dixon hosted the fundraising programme, which was first broadcast from the BBC’s Salford studios.

Broadcaster Zoe Ball was meant to be part of the lineup, but had to pull out the day after testing positive for Covid, with Dixon completing her segments.

Kylie Minogue and comedian Joel Dommett were also forced into retirement after contracting the virus.

The evening featured sketches by Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

Strictly Come Dancing champions Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice also put on an emotional dance performance with a rendition of How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding.

It was also revealed during the broadcast that endurance challenges undertaken by Olympian Tom Daley and BBC Radio 1 presenter Jordan North prior to the show had raised nearly £2 million of the combined total.

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