Millions of TV viewers tonight tuned in to an unprecedented cross-channel TV broadcast of the new Band Aid video.
The film, to accompany the Band Aid 20 charity single, was screened at 5.55pm across all five British terrestrial networks and more than 20 cable and satellite channels.
It is thought to be one of the only occasions every major channel has screened the same material, an honour not even accorded to the Queen’s Speech.
The moving video features images from the recording of the charity single in London and news footage of famine in Africa.
Pop stars involved in the project were seen weeping as they watched images of suffering on the continent in a music studio ahead of the single’s recording on Saturday.
A Band Aid spokeswoman said of the multi-channel screening: “It is something completely unprecedented. I have never known even for a royal occasion to be shown on all channels like that.
“What we have got to make sure is that as many people as possible buy the single and I can’t think of a better way of doing that.”
US star Madonna, who performed at the original Band Aid concert, introduced the broadcast, imploring viewers to “feed the world“.
Over images of children ravaged by hunger, she said: “Once again, here we are 20 years later. More people die of hunger in Africa than war and Aids put together.
“In a world of plenty, it is hard to imagine that most African children will go to bed tonight hungry.
“Bob Geldof and his friends are here to remind you that we can never forget. Not ever. Feed the world. I am honoured to introduce Band Aid 20.”
The single, an update of 1984’s Do They Know It’s Christmas, features a host of figures from today’s pop world including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Dido and Robbie Williams, who sing the opening of the song.
U2 frontman Bono reprises his famous “And tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” line from two decades ago.
Others including The Sugababes, Fran Healy from Travis, Justin Hawkins from The Darkness, Will Young, Jamelia, Ms Dynamite and Joss Stone also feature.
The video also offers viewers a chance to see the musicians who don’t sing on the record, including Sir Paul McCartney playing bass, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on piano and Danny Goffey of Supergrass on drums.
Blur’s Damon Albarn is seen serving tea to his fellow singers.
However, Robin Eggar, a journalist who was at both the 1984 and 2004 recordings, said the new video can never have the same impact as the original.
“There’s a big difference from the first video, as now people are so used to seeing images of hunger and famine on their screens,” he said.
“When we turn on the TV to see Iraq or Darfur every day, the footage used in the video can’t be as dramatic.
“But I don’t think anyone could expect this video to have the same impact as the first, in 1984 it was a spontaneous event, this time it is more of a media creation.”
Viewing figures to determine how many people tuned in to see the video will be available tomorrow morning, though the National Grid said it did not notice any unusual upsurge in power needs whilst the film was aired.
The new single will be in the shops on November 29 and has long been tipped as the seasonal Number One.
It is also available to download from today and will be launched as a charity ringtone on Monday.