Red Nose Day: 'Irreplaceable' Sir Lenny Henry hosts his last Comic Relief

Sir Lenny Henry has been hailed as "utterly irreplaceable" after co-hosting Comic Relief for the last time - 39 years after co-founding the charity.

The comedian said it had been an "honour and a joy" to be the face of the annual Red Nose Day show.

Sir Lenny told viewers: "It is not about me - it is about the mirth and the money, the comedy and compassion."

Over £40m has been raised this year, the charity said.

During an evening full of tributes to Sir Lenny, co-host David Tennant thanked him for "an amazing tour of duty".

Davina McCall said her fellow presenter would be "one hundred percent totally and utterly irreplaceable".

Sir Lenny founded the charity behind the annual comedy broadcast with filmmaker Richard Curtis in 1985.

Since launching in 1988, Comic Relief has raised more than £1.5bn from donations - money which has reached more than one hundred million people.

Sir Lenny was left "speechless" during Friday's show when dozens of people in the audience revealed themselves to be beneficiaries of Comic Relief projects over the years.

He was also visibly emotional when his co-hosts surprised him with a video message from a woman he met in Ethiopia in 2005 who was being treated for tuberculosis and HIV.

Speaking to the TV audience at home, Sir Lenny said: "There are so many people living tough lives in incredibly difficult situations here in the UK and beyond… for the last 40 years we've made these films and you've watched them, and every single time you've come through."

Lenny Henry and the cast of W1A
BBC series W1A returned for a sketch in which the cast search for Henry's successor

Discussing his departure earlier this week, Sir Lenny said: "I think it needs new blood, and I'm definitely old blood. So it is time for change."

The 65-year-old added: "This is a good time to part ways and to allow a new generation to take the baton and move the whole thing on a bit."

In a pre-recorded music video featured earlier during the show broadcast on BBC One, Sir Lenny transformed himself into Barbie's Ken.

Speaking to BBC News, co-founder and film director Curtis said: "He's kind of always kept the heart of it, I think if he had been in it for the entertainment he would have been off 20 years ago."

This year'shosts also included Alex Jones, Maya Jama, Paddy McGuinness, Romesh Ranganathan, Joel Dommett and Rosie Ramsey.

Friday's highlights included a spoof movie adaptation of The Traitors, in which Vigil and Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones played host Claudia Winkleman.

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey starred as winner Harry, with David Walliams playing fellow contestant Paul and Asim Chaudhry as Jaz.

Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge, darts sensation Luke Littler, financial expert Martin Lewis, pop group McFly and the Gladiators also put in appearances during the three-hour show.

You can watch the full extravaganza on iPlayer here.