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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 06:04 GMT
Comic Relief tops record total
Will Mellor
Will Mellor sang his way to victory in Fame Academy
Red Nose Day has raised more than 35 million for Comic Relief good causes in the UK and Africa.

It is the highest figure raised on the day of the event, with organisers confident they will break the previous record final total of 55 million once all the money from events around the UK has come in.

The day culminated in a BBC telethon, which included sketches, interviews and information on the good causes.

Actor Will Mellor won the BBC's Celebrity Fame Academy after beating comic Ruby Wax in the public vote.

Mellor declared he felt "fantastic" but said it was more important that 600,000 was raised in the process.

At the end of Celebrity Driving School stars including Gareth Gates, Jade Goody and Paul O'Grady were told live on air that they had all failed their tests.

In Pictures: Red Nose Day

And Rowan Atkinson and Lenny Henry provided a spoof version of Martin Bashir's interview with Michael Jackson.

The telethon provided the finale to a day of events, which began when millions of red noses and outrageous hairstyles were donned by people across Britain.

Thousands of fundraising events were held by businesses in an effort to beat last year's record total.

Robot breakfast

The theme of this year's event was The Big Hair Do and five million red noses - equipped with funny faces and suitably wild red hair - have been sold.

The eight-hour telethon started on BBC One at 1900 GMT, with red-haired host Jonathan Ross barracking Jack Dee about his stunt.

The public rang in with contributions to keep the vertigo sufferer Jack Dee on top of a 50ft pole outside Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush.

The early hours of the show featured Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders performing a spoof Harry Potter sketch.

And the cast of EastEnders performed a sketch with happy and smiling faces.

Pop Idol runner-up Gareth Gates jostled for attention with television's The Kumars while singing his Comic Relief hit Spirit In The Sky.

Then he took on a more serious role meeting people living with Aids.

Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand
Celebrities back Red Nose Day

Members of the public gave up their dignity for the day, by sporting their own unique hairstyles.

In Bradford a sponsored "no Gareth Gates day" was being held by die-hard fans, while Ormskirk's rugby league team waxed their legs.

In Portsmouth vicar Tim Jessiman caused mirth among members of his congregation, by roller-skating 40 miles for the cause.

He said: "People have started calling me victim instead of vicar."

In Barnsley lawyer Ged Hale hopes to raise 14,000 after spending the day locked away in a cell at the local police station.

Comic Relief facts
More than 250m raised since 1985, on eight Red Nose Days
For every pound donated a pound goes to the poor
Running costs met by government and other sources
UK projects include deprivation, abuse, mental health and homelessness
Africa projects fight HIV, poverty and conflict
London Underground staff sported outrageous headwear, with crew at Liverpool Street, Moorgate, King's Cross, Bank and Canary Wharf collecting donations from commuters.

Famous faces such as royal butler Paul Burrell and Liquid News host Claudia Winkleman have also raised money by exposing themselves to a healthy dose of ridicule.

Since it started in 1985, Comic Relief has raised more than 250m for good causes.

Comic Relief was launched live on BBC One on Christmas Day 1985, from a refugee camp in Sudan.

Donations can be made by ringing 08457 910910 or online at www.rednoseday.com.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Sillito
"This years fundraising involved sponsored hair dos"



SEE ALSO:
Stars come out for Comic Relief
14 Mar 03 |  Entertainment
Fame Academy final countdown
13 Mar 03 |  Entertainment
Red Nose site proves popular
12 Mar 03 |  Technology
Nesbitt kicks off NI Comic Relief
12 Feb 03 |  Northern Ireland
Red Noses out for charity
10 Feb 03 |  Scotland
Tower glows red for Comic Relief
08 Feb 03 |  UK News


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