Channel 4’s Comedy Gala - Channel 4, 9pm

Russell Brand is just one of the stars of the Channel 4 Comedy Gala.

Russell Brand is just one of the stars of the Channel 4 Comedy Gala.

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Ever since Jack Dee closed the inaugural Comedy Gala in 2010 with the words “we’ll see you next year, thank you and goodnight”, signifying there was more to come.

This event has become a clearly defined and eagerly awaited annual highlight in the calendar for both discerning comedy fans and casual viewers alike.

Now in its fourth year, the event – which was filmed at London’s O2 on May 18th – looks set to be better than ever.

And that’s no mean feat, considering the first one alone raised nearly £1m for its charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital, enabling a new anaesthetic room to be built.

Since then, the funding targets – and the starry line-up – have become bigger year on year.

This time around, the big-name acts promising to split your sides for charity include Michael McIntyre, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross, Adam Hills, Russell Brand, Kevin Bridges, Lee Evans and Josh Widdicombe.

Many are no stranger to the event, and in fact a good number have attended on each and every occasion so far – in the case of Hills and Widdicombe, though, 2013 finds them far bigger stars than they were 12 months ago: it was thanks to the popularity of their Paralympic companion show, The Last Leg with Adam Hills, that they have truly burst into the mainstream consciousness.

Although both had enjoyed reasonable success beforehand, with numerous comedy festivals and TV panel show appearances to their names, it’s fair to say that to many people, they were a revelation last summer.

Among some of the other performers are Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness, Welsh funnyman Rhod Gilbert and Brighton-based comic Seann Walsh – all of whom have seen their stars on the ascent in recent times. In the case of McGuinness, his days of playing sidekick to Peter Kay seem long gone.

Canadian comic Tom Stade is another highlight in a long list of, well, highlights. His brand of humour always goes down well with UK audiences – so much so, in fact, that he’s now based in Edinburgh and is a regular favourite at the Fringe. Actress, comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti, Stand Up for the Week regular Paul Chowdhry and 8 Out of 10 Cats team captain Jon Richardson represent a further three reasons to tune in.

But it’s not all fun and laughter. Actually, no... it really is!