Australians have pledged more than $20 million for the Red Cross Bushfire appeal during the Nine Network's Telethon, bringing the total raised to more than $77 million. But the event was not without controversy.
The good vibes of the night were soured after sources at rival networks accused Nine of only holding the event on Thursday because of their weak line up – which usually includes The Celebrity Singing Bee and Adults Only 20 to 01.
A host of celebrities appeared on the show to raise money for fire-ravaged communities, either in person or in video messages. Big names included Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Miranda Kerr and Megan Gale.
Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom even manned the phones amongst home-grown faces like Rove McManus, Dave Hughes, Adam Hills and Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson.
The network says the Australia Unites telethon, hosted by Eddie McGuire, raised $21,502,485 in the special which also featured Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier John Brumby.
Singers John Williamson, Shannon Noll and rockers The Living End performed at the event.
The weekend fires have killed at least 181 people and destroyed more than a thousand homes.
Donations can be made by phoning 1800 811 700 or www.redcross.org.au.