Children In Need (BBC1, 1980-present)
This is of course the fundraising special, and I have decided to review this because when I was younger it all seemed to be a big deal, a show that would only happen once a year, and be on for hours, usually until about 2am. The idea behind Children In Need had actually been around since 1927, but this didn’t become a TV show until the early-80s, and became a live star-studded special around the mid-80s.
It was also around this time that the famous Pudsey bear mascot was introduced, although this was rather threadbare-looking at first, but eventually became much smarter after a few redesigns. What attracted a lot of viewers to Children In Need was Terry Wogan as host (assisted by various others), as he tried to hold together things as only he could. Rehearsals, autocues, earpieces? Not for this man!
Various special segments would be introduced, and we’d often be promised that the stars would perform as we’d never seen them before. You’ll never believe what EastEnders cast members or news hosts can sing and dance… or not as it turns out. And if we were really (un)lucky, Terry might just be tempted to sing himself. Do you need any more persuasion to get on the phone than that?
And by the late-80s, the similar Comic Relief and ITV Telethon had launched too. Another memorable feature would be the regional opt-outs, as people from across the country would get up to some rather bizarre things to raise money. And the hosts of Newsroom South East (or whatever regional news show it was depending on where you were in the UK) would all report it rather excitedly.
As the evening progressed, there would be a change in style, usually featuring variety acts and songs from musicals. However, Terry would be rather cream-crackered by this point, and started to become a little befuddled. It would all be worth it though, for the big reveal at the end of the long show of what they had raised, which was usually around £10m, hooray!
As the years went by, this ended up being just about the only TV gig remaining for Terry at the BBC, which seemed to be something of a waste really. Children In Need is still going, but recently this doesn’t seem to be as big a deal now, maybe it’s just another of those “I got older” things, but things really haven’t been the same since Terry’s departure. But this is a show that has brought us several unusual TV moments.