Russell Brand was forced to pull out of an appearance at the British Comedy Awards in London on Saturday, January 22 after a close friend was taken ill in the U.S. The funnyman was unable to pick up his Outstanding Contribution to British Comedy trophy at the ceremony because he was at his pal Martino Sclavi's bedside.
The Italian film producer was reportedly admitted to a New York hospital on Wednesday, January 19 after suffering severe headaches, and a biopsy revealed a brain tumor. He is said to be in critical condition after undergoing surgery to remove the growth.
The "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" star apologized for his absence in a video message played for the audience at London's O2 Arena. Accepting his prize, Brand said, "I'm really sorry I couldn't be there. One of my friends is really ill and there's no way I could travel."
Brand was expected to reunite with British broadcaster Jonathan Ross at the event, marking their first joint TV appearance since their controversial calls to actor Andrew Sachs on a U.K. radio show threatened to end their careers. The pair came under fire after leaving offensive messages on the "Fawlty Towers" star's answering machine about Brand's fling with Sachs' granddaughter.