Belfast Telegraph

Text Santa delivers £5.5m present

ITV's Text Santa appeal raised its highest ever total as viewers dug deep to donate more than £5.5 million.

The star-studded show saw Hollywood superstar George Clooney appear in a special version of Downton Abbey, former Spice Girl Mel B join the cast of Coronation Street and members of McBusted eat turkey testicles and fish eyes in a "bushtucker trial".

Prince Harry, Simon Cowell and actress Carey Mulligan were also among those to present films telling emotional true-life stories highlighting the work of six nominated charities.

This year's appeal was raising cash for Teenage Cancer Trust, Guide Dogs, WellChild, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Alzheimer's Society and children's hospice support charity Together for Short Lives.

Before last night's show, presenter Phillip Schofield took on his own fund-raising challenges as he presented non-stop on live television for 24 hours and scaled western Europe's tallest building, The Shard, in London.

ITV said the appeal raised £5,503,065 - taking the total amassed since Text Santa began in 2011 to more than £20,500,000.

Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, said: "It's been an amazing evening and I want to thank all the artists who took part and all the ITV viewers who have both donated to and got more involved with the charities as a result of Text Santa.

"It's all about raising awareness of the work of these excellent causes and giving viewers an evening of top-class entertainment in the process."

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