Ed Sheeran played a large role in Friday’s Red Nose Day special as the singer performed, appeared in a comedy sketch and hosted an emotional segment where he traveled to Liberia to meet with homeless and parentless children.
In the video, produced by Comic Relief, Sheeran meets JD, a Liberian boy who spent two months sleeping in a canoe on the beach bordering a dangerous slum at the time of the video’s filming. JD, who lost his mother to Ebola and was abandoned by his father, tells Sheeran about his difficult life and presidential dreams.
Sheeran is so moved by JD’s story, he tells the segment’s crew that he’s not leaving until the child and five of his mates are “sorted out” in a situation that includes shelter and schooling. The singer offers to put up the money to ensure JD doesn’t spend another night on the beach.
“These kids, you give them an education, you give them hope. I think that’s the main thing, I don’t even think it’s a financial thing. I think it’s just someone saying ‘You can be this,’ and fulfilling the promise,” Sheeran said.
“These Red Nose Day appeals are meant to be we make a case for a child and that tugs on your heartstrings, and then you donate because you want to help the child out, but I can’t leave, and I think everyone here filming agrees, we can’t leave this place without sorting these kids out… But these kids are just five in a million, two million, five million. There’s so many kids that are in the same situation.”
In a lighthearted sketch, Sheeran teamed with Kurupt FM, the comedy troupe behind the BBC series People Just Do Nothing, to produce a green screen-heavy music video.
Sheeran also performed his Divide song “What Do I Know?” on the Red Nose Day special, which will air tonight in the U.S.
In a previously released sketch, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Liam Neeson, Anna Kendrick and more auditioned for the role of Stephen Hawking’s new voice. The Red Nose Day special will also feature the anticipated Love Actually quasi-reunion.