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BBC Children in Need Pudsey and logo since 2007
The old Pudsey bear and logo, used from 1985 to 2007
BBC Children in Need is an annual Britishmarker charity appeal organised by the BBC. Since 1980 it has raised over £500 million.

The highlight of the Children in Need appeal is an annual telethon, held in November. It is one of the two high-profile British telethons, the other being organised by Comic Relief, which holds an annual telethon in March, alternating bi-annually as Red Nose Day and Sport Relief.


Each year since 1980, the BBC has set aside one evening of programming on its flagship television channel, BBC One, to show events aimed at raising money exclusively destined for charities working with children in the UKmarker. In 2009, the last completed event, the charity raised over £20 million on the broadcast evening. BBC coverage also extends across the BBC's other television channels and national and local radio channels. A mascot called 'Pudsey', a yellow teddy bear with a bandage over one eye, was introduced in 1985 and has become a regular feature. Children in Need was registered as a charity in 1989. In 2007 Pudsey and the Children in Need logo were redesigned.

The appeal gains the majority of its money from donations by individuals who may themselves have raised the funds by taking part in sponsor events. Sponsored sitting in a bath of baked beans is a perennial favourite. Companies also donate either money directly or benefits in kind, such as HSBC donating banking facilities, and BT donating telephone lines and operators. On the night of the televised appeal, donations are solicited by celebrities appearing on the seven-hour long programme performing various activities such as sketches or musical numbers, intermixed with featurettes showing what the money will be used for. Featured celebrities often include those from programmes on the BBC's rival ITV network, including some appearing in-character, and/or from the sets of their own programmes. A performance by BBC newsreaders has become an annual fixture (in recent years, Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in 2005 and a 'James Bond' theme in 2006). Stars of newly-opened West End musicals regularly perform a number from their show later in the evening after 'curtain call' in their respective theatres. The total raised so far is frequently flashed on screen, with presenters urging viewers to part with "any penny they can spare" to help push the total beyond the target milestone.

Although Children in Need is welcomed by a large proportion of the British public, there are some who offer an alternative view, that the portrayal of children, particularly disabled children, as victims is unfortunate and counter-productive. It is argued that a change in social attitudes will benefit the disadvantaged more than money and public sympathy. Intelligent Giving, an independent organisation which appraises charities has also accused Children in Need of being inefficient and wasting money on administration, and accused it of laziness in its financial accounting procedures.

The money contributed to Children in Need is distributed to organisations supporting children in the UK aged 18 and under who have mental, physical or sensory disabilities; behavioural or psychological disorders; are living in poverty or situations of deprivation; or suffering through distress, sex abuse or neglect.


The BBC's first broadcast appeal took place in 1927, in the form of a five-minute radio broadcast on Christmas Day. It raised about £1,143, which equates to about £27,150 by today's standards. The annual appeal format transferred to television in 1955 and continued each Christmas Day until 1979. The yellow mascot, "Pudsey" Bear, was created in 1985 by Joanna Ball. The bear was named after her home town of Pudseymarker, West Yorkshire, where her grandfather was mayor. A reproduction of the bear mascot (made of vegetation) is in Pudsey park, near the town centre.

The first televised appeal took place in 1955 and was called the Children's Hour Christmas Appeal, with the yellow glove puppet Sooty Bear and Harry Corbett fronting it. The Christmas Day Appeals continued on TV and radio right up until 1979, with stars such as Terry Hall, Eamonn Andrews, Leslie Crowther and Michael Aspel. During that time a total of £625,836 was raised. Terry Wogan first appeared during this five-minute appeal in 1978, and again in 1979.

New format: Telethon

The first BBC "telethon" event—a single programme lasting a whole evening devoted to raising money—was held in 1980. The new format, presented by Terry Wogan, Sue Lawley and Esther Rantzen, saw a dramatic increase in public donations: £1 million was raised that year. The telethon format has been retained each year since and grown in scope to incorporate further events broadcast on radio and online.

The 2003 event took place in November, raising £15 million on the night and £30 million when all donations were collected. It was once again hosted by Terry Wogan, who has become firmly associated with the annual event, and Gaby Roslin. The 2004 appeal was held on 19 November and billed as Children in Need's 25th anniversary "celebrating 25 years of fun and fundraising". £17m was raised on the night. The 2005 appeal was hosted by Terry Wogan, Fearne Cotton and Natasha Kaplinsky, and included special performances from David Tennant and Billie Piper, stars of Doctor Who. This event just beat the 2004 total when it raised £17,235,256.

Prior to the start of the Telethon, BBC Radio 2 hosts 4 days of fund-raising for Children In Need. Auctions are held during Terry Wogan's radio show (originally, these were also on many of the other presenters' shows). The Radio 2 events culminate with a music marathon, ending just as the Telethon starts. For the last few years, Radio 2 listeners have been able to raise in excess of one million pounds. In 2006, the music marathon was 13 hours long, and the cumulative total raised by Radio 2 listeners was over two million pounds.

Unlike the other BBC charity telethon "Comic Relief", Children in Need relies a lot on the BBC regions for input into the telethon night. The BBC English regions all have around 5-8 minute round-ups every hour during the telethon. This does not interrupt the schedule of items which is shown from BBC Television Centre as the host Terry Wogan usually hands over to the regions, giving those in the main network studio a short break. However BBC Scotland, BBC Wales and BBC Northern Ireland do opt-out of the network schedule with a lot of local fundraising news and activities from their broadcast area. Usually they will go over to the network broadcast at various times of the night, and usually they will show some network items later than when the English regions will see them. This is to give the BBC nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a much larger slot than the BBC English regions because the "Nations" compromise a much larger and distinct audience of the BBC, compared to the English regions. Usually BBC Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hands back to network coverage from around 1:00am in the telethon night.

Many pop music stars collaborate with Children In Need and sing in the telethon event. Recent contributors include Westlife, Madonna, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Blue, Kylie Minogue, Spice Girls, Liberty X, Ronan Keating, Robbie Williams, McFly, Take That, Girls Aloud, S Club 7 Elliot Minor, Keane, Boyzone, Leona Lewis, Sugababes, Joss Stone and The Feeling.

BBC Children in Need became a registered charity in 1989. Its registered charity number is 802052.

Other presenters of the telethon have included: Sue Cook, Joanna Lumley (who famously partly disrobed after a viewer pledged a large sum of money), Roy Kinnear and Andi Peters.

Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group announced on 27 June 2007 that it would donate all receipts from two special performances of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat's revived West Endmarker production to Children in Need, which would benefit from ticket sales for 16 July’s booked-out preview and the sold-out 16 November performance, the night of the telethon. Cast members, the group added, would not get the usual first night gifts on 17 July – the money would, instead go to Children in Need

Recent events



The 2005 event was held on Friday November 18. The television broadcast was hosted by Terry Wogan, Natasha Kaplinsky, Fearne Cotton, Matt Allwright with the voice of Alan Dedicoat. The event raised £17,235,256 by the closing minute.


The 2006 event was held on Friday 17 November. The television broadcast was hosted by Terry Wogan, Natasha Kaplinsky, Fearne Cotton and Chris Moyles with Alan Dedicoat reading out the money raised at various points. On average, the broadcast brought in 7.72m viewers and raised a total of £18,300,392 by the closing minute.


The 2007 event was held on the evening of Friday 16 November through to the morning of 17 Saturday November and was hosted by Terry Wogan and Fearne Cotton, joined by other guest presenters throughout the night. The voice over reading out hourly totals was Alan Dedicoat. The event broke all previous records with a total of £19,089,771 raised by the end of the broadcast.


For the 2008 show Terry Wogan returned, and this year he was joined by Fearne Cotton and Tess Daly as hosts, with Alan Dedicoat reading out the money raised at various points. Phil Lavelle co-presented with Konnie Huq. It was held on 14 November. The event broke all previous records with a total of £20,991,216 raised by the end of the broadcast.


The 2009 show was held on the evening of Friday 20 November through to the morning of Saturday 21 November 2009 hosted by Terry Wogan, Tess Daly and Alesha Dixon. A concert was organised by Gary Barlow in the Royal Albert Hallmarker. Artists who performed included Taylor Swift, Pixie Lott, Take That, JLS , Robbie Williams, Cheryl Cole, Leona Lewis, Annie Lennox, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Paul McCartney, Muse, Paolo Nutini and Lily Allen. The event raised £20,309,747 by the end of the broadcast.

Official singles


In November 2006, Intelligent Givingpublished an article about Children in Need, which attracted wide attention across the British media. The article, titled “Four things wrong with Pudsey” described donations to Children in Need as a ‘lazy and inefficient way of giving’ and pointed out that, as a grant-giving charity, Children in Need would use donations to pay two sets of administration costs. It also described the quality of some of its public reporting as 'shambolic'.

In 2007, it was reported that Terry Wogan, as the show's host, had been receiving an annual honorarium since 1980 (amounting to £9,065 in 2005). This made him the only celebrity paid for his participation in Children in Need. Wogan, however, stated that he would "quite happily do it for nothing" and had "never asked for a fee". The BBC stated that the amount, which was paid from BBC resources and not from the Children in Need charity fund, had "never been negotiated,"having instead increased in line with inflation.Two days prior to the 2007 event, it was reported that Wogan had waived his compensation.

See also


External links

Year Artist(s) Song(s) Chart
1985 Clannad Almost Seems DNC
1986 Suzi Quatro with Bronski Beat & Various Artists Heroes DNC
1988 Spirit Of Play with Paul McCartney Children In Need DNC
1993 Pet Shop Boys I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing 13
1997 Lou Reed & Various Artists Perfect Day 1
1998 Denise Van Outen & Johnny Vaughan Featuring Steps Especially for You 3
1999 Martine McCutcheon Love Me 6
2000 S Club 7 Never Had a Dream Come True 1
2001 S Club 7 Have You Ever 1
2002 Will Young Don't Let Me Down / You and I 2
2003 Shane Richie I'm Your Man 2
2004 Girls Aloud I'll Stand By You 1
2005 Liberty X A Night to Remember 6
2006 Emma Bunton Downtown 3
2007 Spice Girls Headlines 11
2008 McFly Do Ya/Stay With Me 18
2009 Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band The Official BBC Children in Need Medley 1

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