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Sir Lenny Henry reveals Red Nose Day total has exceeded £37 million

Sir Lenny Henry has announced that more than £37 million has been raised for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day.

This year marks the comedian’s final time co-hosting the annual programme that raises money for charity.

The Dudley-born actor, 65, co-founded Comic Relief in 1985 alongside Love Actually screenwriter Richard Curtis and will continue to serve as life president following his departure as host.

Revealing the Red Nose Day total during the show on BBC One, Sir Lenny said: “Red Nose nation. Your generosity has brought tonight’s total, so far, to a phenomenal £37,019,832.”

The first total of the night was revealed to be £21,700,628.

McFly opened the show with a medley of songs including Walk This Way by Run-DMC featuring Aerosmith, One Way Or Another by Blondie, Uptown Girl by Billy Joel and the group’s hit song All About You.

McCall and Sir Lenny were also joined by co-hosts, Love Island presenter Maya Jama, Doctor Who star David Tennant, actor and comedian Romesh Ranganathan, The Masked Singer host Joel Dommett, Take Me Out star Paddy McGuinness and podcaster Rosie Ramsey.

Reflecting on Sir Lenny’s legacy, McCall told the British TV star that he was “irreplaceable.”

“On behalf of all of us here tonight, and of course the entire nation, I’ve got to say you are 100% totally, utterly – am I right when I say – he’s irreplaceable,” she said.

Sir Lenny said: “I don’t want to make too much fuss, it’s been an honour and a joy… it’s so not about me, it’s about the mirth and the money, it’s about comedy and compassion.”

The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power after party – London
Sir Lenny Henry co-hosted the show (Yui Mok/PA)

Celebrating those Sir Lenny has helped, Tennant announced a “surprise” while the comedian stood among the studio audience.

The Scottish actor told Sir Lenny that he would see “some familiar faces from across the years” as he read the names of individuals who had been helped by Comic Relief.

The whole audience then got to their feet after McCall asked anyone whose lives had been positively impacted by Sir Lenny and Comic Relief to stand up.

Turning to look at the standing audience members, Sir Lenny said: “It’s lovely to see you all, thank you so much.”

McCall said: “We could’ve filled a thousand studios with people that you and Comic Relief have helped.”

Elsewhere on the show, Hollywood actors including Julia Roberts, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant and Liam Neeson made a special appearance to argue among each other to be named the most famous in a comedy sketch.

The cast of spoof comedy series W1A, including Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville and Spaced actress Jessica Hynes, reunited to search for a new host and Steve Coogan appeared as his alter-ego Alan Partridge alongside comedian and actor Tim Key.

There were also musical appearances from Paloma Faith and the West End stage show Just For One Day, based on the 1985 benefit concert Live Aid, organised by Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure.

A spoof of hit show The Traitors also aired, and showed celebrities including comedians Catherine Tate and David Walliams and Bridgerton actor Jonathan Bailey playing contestants from this year’s series.

In a music video, Sir Lenny joked he would turn 10 Downing Street into a “dope ass Premier Inn” while singing a spoof of the Oscar-nominated song I’m Just Ken from blockbuster film Barbie.

The comedian wore a white fur coat and blonde wig as he sang I’m Just Len and contemplated becoming prime minister, following his final stint as host of Red Nose Day.

After the video aired, Sir Lenny joked he had been planning the song “way before” Barbie actor Ryan Gosling performed it at this year’s Academy Awards.

Money raised by Red Nose Day goes towards organisations helping to tackle homelessness, poverty and mental health along with other causes in the UK and throughout the world.

Comic Relief is a UK charity that aims “to help put food on plates, roofs over heads and keep little ones safe”.