Can you believe it, Children in Need is 40?

Hosts of Children In Need 2020 programme include Stephen Mangan, Alex Scott MBE, Chris Ramsey and Mel GiedroycHosts of Children In Need 2020 programme include Stephen Mangan, Alex Scott MBE, Chris Ramsey and Mel Giedroyc
Hosts of Children In Need 2020 programme include Stephen Mangan, Alex Scott MBE, Chris Ramsey and Mel Giedroyc
Wednesday: Children in Need: 40 Fabulous Years; (BBC One, 8pm)

BBC Children in Need is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, culminating in an evening of unmissable television live from Elstree Studios a week on Friday (November 13).

As usual, the spectacular night will be full of fun and fundraising in the form of sketches, performances, appeal films and appearances from some of the nation’s favourite faces.

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Over the years, Children in Need has raised more than £1billion for sick and disadvantaged kids in the UK.

And in these strange times, everyone involved in the appeal agrees that it is now more important than ever.

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of BBC Children in Need, says: “We know times are tough, and this year’s appeal will be a chance to share some hope, inspiration and laughter, while raising much-needed funds to help change young lives.

“This year’s appeal is an important opportunity for us all to show that we are right behind the UK’s children and young people, because right now, the coronavirus pandemic has made life even harder for them.”

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To mark Pudsey’s 40th birthday, presenter Ade Adepitan is guiding viewers on a funny, poignant and revealing numerical tour across four fabulous decades of the charity’s history.

Children in Need: 40 Fabulous Years will include the greatest moments and hear from those whose lives have benefitted from the Great British public’s donations.

As Ade can attest, Children in Need can and really does change lives.

The charity helped to fund his first sports wheelchair when he was 12 years old, an intervention which helped send him on the road to winning a Paralympic bronze medal for Team GB in 2004.

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However, as Ade explains, tonight’s special one-off programme is “not a countdown” and “No.1 is no better than No.40” – it is an assortment of bite-sized snapshots of one of the most unpredictable and uplifting nights in the TV calendar.

From newscasters channelling their inner Beyoncé to the less familiar but equally eye-popping ‘stripping-for-money’ routines which peppered the shows, the charity night has never been short of invention.

It has been populated by the most extraordinary array of talent – who could forget actor Eddie Redmayne’s star-studded search for Pudsey, or that clash of the Titans between Barbara Windsor’s Peggy Mitchell and Catherine Tate’s Lauren?

Often worlds collided unexpectedly as in the unforgettable Weatherfield/Walford mash-up sketch, or when Jon Culshaw managed to sound more like Tony Blair than the former PM himself.

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And at the heart of it all were two key elements – the late and much-lamented long-time presenter Sir Terry Wogan, and the children he, and so many others, laid down their egos to help.

Tess Daly, who announced she is stepping down from hosting before this year’s show, reveals the queasy truth behind her prize-winning dance routine, while rapper Dizzee Rascal relives the night he duetted with a legend, and Ronan Keating recalls being trussed up like a turkey.

As this retrospective programme illustrates, Children In Need is great British institution with a big heart, and long may it continue.

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