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Russell Brand: From drug addict to comedy star often at the centre of controversy

Russell Brand's career has been through several different stages - from stand-up comedy and TV presenting to Hollywood films.

He has been addicted to heroin and alcohol and admitted being "very, very promiscuous" in the past.

But the 48-year-old has said he has no regrets about his sexual behaviour and has vehemently denied accusations of rape, sexual assaults and emotional abuse, reported by The Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches.

Here, Sky News look at the life and career of Brand who has often been at the centre of controversy.

Read more:
The allegations in full

Early life to Big Brother fame

Brand was born in Grays, Essex, in 1975. His parents separated when he was six months old, after which he was raised by his mother

When he was eight, his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and he went to live with relatives while she was treated.

At the age of 14, he began suffering from bulimia, while at 16 he fell out with his mother's new partner and started taking drugs.

He became famous initially through stand-up, making his Edinburgh Festival debut in 2000, arriving at the tail end of the lad culture which had thrived in the 1990s.

From 2004, he spent three years presenting the Big Brother spin-off Big Mouth.

Read more:
Russell Brand accused of rape and sexual assault
Brand plays gig after allegations against him

'Sachsgate' controversy to Hollywood stardom

In 2008, Brand was sacked from BBC Radio 2 after leaving a series of lewd messages on the answerphone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs about a romantic liaison with his granddaughter.

Media regulator Ofcom said the comments, recorded with Jonathan Ross, were "gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning".

During an interview for BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 2013, Brand claimed the scandal, nicknamed "Sachsgate", had erupted because he had become caught up in an anti-BBC "agenda".

He reiterated his apology for the upset the incident had caused, but suggested it was a "dishonest scandal" because it was hijacked by people motivated by a bias against the state broadcaster, which was fined £150,000.

Despite Sachsgate, he went on to enjoy success in the US, starring in a number of major Hollywood films including Forgetting Sarah Marshall opposite Kristen Bell, and Get Him To The Greek with Jonah Hill.

He also appeared in the remake of the Dudley Moore comedy Arthur alongside Dame Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner and Greta Gerwig.

Marriage to Katy Perry

Brand met US pop star Katy Perry at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2009 and proposed outside the Taj Mahal in India two months later.

They married in India in October 2010. Just 14 months later, he announced they had split.

In 2015, Brand was in the headlines once again when he urged people to vote Labour after repeatedly saying they should not vote at all.

He later told NME: "My opinion on voting is evolving," while warning that the "end of democracy" could be near.

In 2017, he sparked controversy on Comic Relief by saying "f****** hell" live on air following a technical glitch.

In the same year, he published a memoir called Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. He underwent rehab for heroin addiction in 2003.

During an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, he said various childhood traumas were the source of unhappiness that led to addiction.

Wellness festival and COVID disinformation claims

In July, Brand and his wife ran a three-day wellness festival called Community Festival With Laura & Russell Brand.

It included workshops, wild swimming and meditation.

Despite tickets costing £250, there was no alcohol and the food was vegan only.

Brand is also currently known for hosting videos on YouTube, on which he has 6.6m subscribers.

Some of them have contained alleged disinformation about COVID, prompting YouTube to take one of them down.