Comic Relief telethon raises $113.6M

March 17, 2013 at 10:24 AM

LONDON, March 17 (UPI) -- Celebrities raised a record $113.6 million as part of the Red Nose Day fundraising telethon to benefit Britain's Comic Relief charity, officials said.

The 25th annual telethon featured a host of musicians, actors, comedians, professional athletes and other celebrities Friday, the BBC reported Saturday.

Actor Russell Brand announced at approximately 1:30 a.m. local time Saturday the telethon had raised $113.6 million, beating its previous high total of $112.6 million in 2011.

The total includes $24.3 million pledged by the government, the BBC reported.

Funds raised by Comic Relief go toward helping more than half a million of Africa's poorest women and girls. The funds go toward improving literacy, getting girls to school, care for expectant mothers, promoting women's rights and eliminating genital mutilation.

The television special featured appearances by One Direction, Ricky Gervais, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hugh Grant and Simon Cowell.

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