As televised events go, they don’t get much bigger than Children in Need. It’s the charity telethon to end all telethons, and it somehow keeps on getting bigger and better every year.
Now as it celebrates its 35th year, there’s cause to look back over its long and illustrious history, as it not only features some of the biggest names in showbiz right now, but also a whole host of reunions and reboots from years gone by, making this potentially one of the most nostalgia-inspiring CiNs ever.
Among the blasts from the past are acts as diverse as S Club 7, who will be ‘bringing it all back’ in the name of charity, and cat-and-mouse cartoon legends Tom and Jerry, who return after an absence of some 10 years or more for a one-off special escapade - alongside some of the BBC’s biggest stars, no less.
Meanwhile, another reunion featured on the show will doubtless be one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year: Bruce Forsyth is reunited with Tess Daly to host a junior version of Strictly Come Dancing. Let’s face it, the pro-celebrity dancing show has not quite been the same since Brucie called it a day - although Claudia Winkleman has stepped up to the role admirably, any Strictly fan worth his or her salt will leap at the chance to see the veteran professional back in action.
Tess, though, is busy enough already - she’s co-hosting the whole shebang along with CiN veteran Terry Wogan. The pair ensure the night of fundraising fun gets off to a fine start by introducing the cast of the West End hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who perform a spectacular all-singing all-dancing number, before the musical mayhem is transposed to Albert Square for an EastEnders song-and-dance routine. And that’s not the only surprise in store from the Square, either, as later on in the evening, in what promises to be one of the night’s most memorable sketches, Ian Beale is haunted by the jangling of Pat Butcher’s earrings and Cindy’s sharp tongue as they and a couple of other dead relatives come back to haunt him.
Doctor Who fans are in for a rare treat, too, as everyone’s favourite Time Lord is on-hand for an exclusive one-off clip. Also, One Direction drop in to do their bit for the cause, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini performs a musical number, and Gareth Malone leads his All Star Choir through Wake Me Up, the official Children in Need single. Considering Gareth previously described working with the choir as being like “banging my head against the wall”, it’ll be interesting to see whether he’s managed to hone them into a finely tuned unit in time for the big show. Judging by his past form, if anyone can do it, Gareth’s the man who can.
CHILDREN IN NEED 2014, BBC1, Friday 7.30pm