Comic Relief raises a whopping £74.3 million in 2011

Comic Relief has broken all previous records and raised a huge £74.3 million for disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa.

As part of a star-studded telethon last night (18.03.11) – hosted by Davina McCall, Graham Norton, Dermot O’Leary, Fearne Cotton, Claudia Winkleman, Lenny Henry and Michael McIntyre – a number of hilarious Red Nose Day spoofs and sketches took place.

One of the most celebrity-packed highlights of the evening was a spoof meeting of the likes of James Corden, JLS, Keira Knightley, Rio Ferdinand, Rupert Grint, Justin Bieber and even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to decide which star should travel to Africa for Comic Relief.

Good-natured Gordon announced plans to duet with JLS – before being called a “big dog” by James Corden – while Keira was banned from the trip for being “too beautiful”, and Rio was told he couldn’t go because he couldn’t cry on order.

The rib-tickling sketch culminated when Sir Paul McCartney told ‘Gavin and Stacey’ star James he’s “too fat” to go to Africa.

He joked: “People don’t like seeing tubby people in Africa. If they hadn’t eaten so much, no one would be starving.”

Elsewhere, a surprise spoof duet between ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ runner-up Susan Boyle and comedian Peter Kay – in his Geraldine McQueen incarnation – of Elaine Paige classic ‘I Know Him So Well’ drew giggles from the crowd and will be released on Monday (21.03.11) to raise even more money for Comic Relief.

Live performances from Take That, McFly and JLS, as well as a special mini-episode of ‘Doctor Who’ and a gag-tastic spoof of ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ – entitled ‘Downstairs Upstairs Abbey’ starring Jennifer Saunders, Kim Cattrall and Joanna Lumley – also entertained audiences.

Undoubtedly one of the more sombre points of the evening was a special episode of ‘EastEnders’ showing troubled teen Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) escape the clutches of evil pimp boyfriend Rob Grayson (Jody Latham) by jumping off a roof when she realises she is being exploited for sex.

Gilly Green, Comic Relief’s head of UK grants, said: “The purpose of doing this is to make sure we raise awareness of the risks out there. We need to make sure young people can take appropriate actions to make themselves safer.

“If ‘EastEnders’ profiling this issue does that, it will have achieved a fantastic thing.”

The staggering £74.3 million raised by the annual Red Nose Day event will go towards helping disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa.