What do you get if you had a big of ideas, including fundraising, teddy bears, celebrities, television, sponsorship, and Terry Wogan, and mixed them all up? You would get Children in Need, a yearly charity event by the BBC, that runs a programme taking up a whole evening to various acts, inspiring people to donate money. The charity helps children and young people in the UK.

Maybe "inspire" is the wrong word here. It typically features whichever celebrities were available on the night. However, don't think of a simple low-class production, for this is no minor event - last year over £17 million was raised for the charity, with over £34 million overall; and this year the record was broken.

Children in Need has its beginnings in 1927, when over £1000 was raised in a five-minute radio broadcast. This was eventually moved onto television in 1955. However, it was given its first major lift in 1980 - it turned into an evening-long telethon, and Terry Wogan, Sue Lawley and Esther Rantzen became the presenters. This new format raised over £1 million during the year that it ran. The organisers, sticking with a winning formula, kept it that way since.


The main events of the show are the celebrities. This year, the BBC News presenters got together and sang Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, and it was absolutely awful. However, it's all a bit of fun - it seems that the audience enjoys the newsreaders making fools of themselves, and the donations tend to spike upwards after any such event.

Also shown was the new short Doctor Who special, as a sort of preface to the main episode this Christmas. There are musical acts, local events, and short films, after which everyone involved shouts out the magic donation phone number.

Many groups of people turn up in the audience to present large novelty cheques for the money that they have raised. Even though the sums given by groups of people often amount to tens of thousands of pounds, there's still a ticker thanking everyone who donates hundreds and even tens of pounds - the viewers really are urged to give "any penny that they can spare".

The show's mascot is a yellow teddy bear by name of Pudsey, named after a village in West Yorkshire where the designer came from. It has a bandage over one eye, and its sitting-down, relaxed pose is its most recognisable pose throughout the UK.


Despite all the music, celebrities, featurettes and goings on, the real aim of the show is not forgotten. The viewers are shown real people who have helped - children with birth defects, children with disabilities, and children recovering from violence and sexual abuse.

If there's anything that people can criticise about the show, it's that "you need to dress charity up with music and celebrities to get people to notice it". I don't know about anyone else, but I'm all for anything that helps desperate children, and this manages to deliver charity to common people and gives them a sense that they can still do their bit.


Update, the day after: broken record, again!

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