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‘Children In Need’ and ‘Pudsey Bear’

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The ‘Children In Need’ is the BBC’s children’s charity dedicated to supporting children needing assistance in the UK. Every year in November, a telethon for the charity is aired on the BBC’s channel, BBC One. The night consists of guest appearances, sketches, musical performances and inspirational videos to urge the public to donate to the cause. The ‘Children In Need’ charity has existed since 1980, which beforehand, had originally started with a group of radio broadcasts/televised appeals beginning in 1927 till 1979, then starting up again in 1980 when it became the official ‘Children In Need’ appeal.

The first appeal from the BBC took place in the form of a five-minute radio broadcast on Christmas day 1927. The charity appeal raised £1,143, which by modern day economics, equates to around £27,150. The money was split four ways and donated to four different children’s charities. The first televised appeal was aired in 1955 and was titled the ‘Children’s Hour Christmas Appeal’. Harry Corbett and a yellow glove puppet named ‘Sooty Bear’ fronted the show. The trend of Christmas day appeals continued throughout the years as either TV or radio shows until they ended in 1979. During that timeline, a total of £625,836 was acquired and given to multiple children’s charities. The series of appeals ended in 1979 to make way for a telethon officially named ‘Children In Need’ in 1980, with linked short segments throughout the night instead of regular continuity. The charity was devoted to attaining money for children’s charities based within the UK, the new format proved helpful and that year saw a considerable increase in public donations; around £1 million was raised that year alone. In 1984, the programme diminished once more and was replaced by a continuous broadcast of the show spanning around six and a half hours runtime.

In 1985, BBC graphic designer, Joana Ball, was tasked with ‘Revamping’ the ‘Children In Need’ logo, in an attempt to ameliorate the overall presence of the charity. Ball stated in an interview that ‘It was like a lightbulb moment for me, we were bouncing ideas off each other and I latched on to this idea of a teddy bear’. The bear was named ‘Pudsey’ after Ball’s hometown of Pudsey, West Yorkshire. The bear has changed over the years, originally starting as an orange/brown bear with a red triangular bandana tied over his left eye; it also featured the letters ‘BBC’ written as buttons diagonally down the bear’s chest. Over the years Pudsey has changed quite prominently, the most notable changes to Pudsey include his eye patch design changing from red to white with multi-coloured dots and Pudsey’s buttons showcasing ‘BBC’ being replaced with building blocks stating ‘BBC CHILDREN IN NEED’.

The name Pudsey and the way it was presented in lower case sans serif letters is a way for people with reading disabilities to easily access the name. Pudsey became a well-known mascot for the charity and became well associated with the ideals of helping children in need of help. The reason for Pudsey’s success is most notably down to the fact that he is a child’s favourite thing, a cuddly teddy bear that children can idolise or look at and feel consolidated. Over the years Pudsey has received multiple fan letters, drawings and e-mails from hopeful children looking for his solace. During the 80’s, Pudsey was developed into numerous pieces of merchandise to raise extra money for the charities donations and also increase the overall presence of the charity. Pudsey has become massively popular throughout the years, so much so that as of 2009, Pudsey has a female companion named ‘Blush’.

‘Children In Need’ has assisted countless charities looking after the needs of children primarily across the UK. In 2013, the charity gathered a staggering £49,600,000, the highest amount ever recorded for the ‘Children In Need’ charity. In the telethons fundraising events over the course of 1980 – 2014, the ‘Children In Need’ charity has raised an estimated total of £600 million for its long running support projects. The money rose from the telethons and donations are used to provide grans to projects within the UK that focus on children who are disadvantaged and need more assistance than others. More projects supported by the donations/fundraising are gathering hearing dogs for deaf children, giving disabled children specialist help, helping very young children with complex learning disabilities and just in general assisting children who need help.


By Cal Parkin

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