Andy Serkis has raised more than £280,000 for charity after completing a live, continuous reading of The Hobbit.
It took the actor just under 11 hours to finish JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novel, as more than 650,000 people online across the world watched him taking on the “Hobbitathon” challenge during the coronavirus lockdown.
He included different voices in the gruelling feat, including of course his famous Gollum character.
Serkis only had a few two-minute breaks during the marathon read, including one at 11am to respect the VE Day silence.
The challenge was aimed at providing entertainment and lifting people’s spirits as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions continue.
And the money raised will be split equally between NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings, which works to support babies, toddlers, pregnant families and new parents, and aims to reduce inequality.
Serkis, who earlier this year received the BAFTA Award for outstanding British contribution to cinema, started the Hobbitathon at 10am on Friday and finished just before 9pm.
He said on social media afterwards: “Thank you all so much for tuning in and for supporting NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings, who between them support frontline workers, parents and babies. I am truly humbled by the response!
“Because of you, we raised more than £280,000 and counting! Thank you again to @harpercollins and the Tolkien Estate for making this all happen.
“We are going to investigate with them more opportunities to share today’s “one-time” live event, so stay tuned. And with that, I bid you goodnight from London – and to you and your loved ones, stay well.”
The GoFundMe campaign target has now been increased to £350,000.
Ahead of the challenge, Serkis told Sky News he had a 60-page practice run.
He also said he would be armed with food and energy drinks to keep breaks to a minimum.
“Sitting in a comfortable chair I have a real tendency to fall asleep very easily,” he said.
“Captain Tom and so many people running marathons,” he said. “I just thought, what’s the equivalent? If you can’t actually run a marathon if you’re trapped indoors, an armchair marathon would be good. And what a great story to do it with.”
NHS Charities Together is the umbrella organisation bringing together all the official charities of the health service.
Serkis has been an ambassador of Best Beginnings for more than six years.