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Bear essentials: We look at the best of Children in Need

Children In Need has been putting the fun in fundraising since 1980. Jeananne Craig looks back at its most memorable moments

It's that time of year again, when newsreaders step out from behind their desks, soap stars get to show off their musical theatre training, and celebrities and mere mortals get the chance to do something entertaining - and preferably a bit embarrassing - for an excellent cause.

Children In Need has provided audiences with some eye-popping viewing over the years (we're not just talking about Jeremy Vine in suspenders). So as the telethon turns 35, we remember the moments that enthralled us - and the bits that had us wishing we could borrow Pudsey's eye-patch.

Ready Steady Cook's Full Monty

Celebrity cooks including Ainsley Harriott, James Martin and Antony Worrall Thompson took the term Naked Chef literally in 1998, when they performed the Full Monty routine on stage. Viewers were whipped into a frenzy (or left in need of a good defrosting) as the kitchen gurus stripped down to red satin thongs, with only a hat to protect their modesty. Some took to the dance routine better than others, however - poor Worrall Thompson later confessed to struggling with the "thrusting moment".

Katie and Peter's duet

When Disney's Aladdin sang about A Whole New World, presumably he didn't envisage one where Katie Price would be showing off her vocal skills on live TV. In 2005, the glamour model belted out the song on Children In Need with then-husband Peter Andre by her side in a matching bright white outfit. The performance may have been cheesier than a lorry-load of Cheddar, but a duets album followed, and the pair returned a year later to sing again.

Terry's Floral Dance

Sir Terry took "dad dancing" to new heights (or depths) when he gave his beloved The Floral Dance - the folksy single which made it to number 21 in the charts back in 1978 - a hip-hop spin in 1995.

The broadcaster donned a camouflage-print puffa jacket and offered ad-libs such as "Move your body" and "Say way-oh", as breakdancers busted moves behind him.

The newsreaders

Susanna Reid's first introduction to sequins and fancy footwork wasn't last year's Strictly Come Dancing; it was the annual Children In Need newsreaders' performance.

Over the years, we've seen the BBC News team bodypop with the Diversity troupe, strut their stuff to Mamma Mia! in skin-tight satin and show their sultry side in a Chicago medley.

But the performance which will forever be etched in our memory (whether we like it or not), is their take on The Rocky Horror Show, when Jeremy Vine showed off a fine pair of pins in some suspenders and stilettos. Rocky Horror? Frocky Horror more like.

Joanna Lumley strips off

It really does take a lot to rattle Terry Wogan, but Joanna Lumley did just that when she showed off her Absolutely Fabulous physique in a 1983 skit.

After promising that swimmer Sharron Davies was poised and ready to take her clothes off in Plymouth, the link encountered some 'technical difficulties', so the actress decided to peel down her little black dress to reveal some even littler black lingerie - leaving Sir Terry speechless, for once.

Corrie does Oliver!

Weatherfield's cobbles were transformed into Dickensian London for Children In Need 2004, when the Corrie cast gave a spectacular rendition of the musical Oliver!

Sam Aston (Chesney) took on the title role, while Bradley Walsh (who played factory boss Danny Baldwin) starred as wiry Fagin. But the real standout performance was Jennie McAlpine (Fiz), who showed off a fine singing voice - and a half-decent cockney accent - as Nancy.

Cowell is sawn in half

By 2003, then-Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell had firmly established himself as the Mr Nasty of the talent show world.

The music mogul received a taste of his own medicine on that year's Children In Need, looking more terrified than a tone-deaf auditionee as he lay in a box with fellow judge Pete Waterman hovering over him with a saw. Cowell emerged unscathed from the circus act, however, with not so much as a nick on those high-waisted jeans.

Perfect Day

What do you get when you mix Boyzone, David Bowie, Shane MacGowan and Heather Small from M People? No, not the most random pub lock-in ever, but the biggest selling Children In Need single of all time.

The star-studded cover of Lou Reed's Perfect Day topped the charts in 1997, raising £2m in the process. The BBC will be hoping to replicate the single's success this year with a cover of The Beach Boys classic God Only Knows, featuring Stevie Wonder, One Direction and Kylie Minogue.

  • BBC Children in Need's 2014 appeal show, BBC One, Friday, 7pm

Extra time: The history of Children In Need

  • The BBC's first broadcast appeal for children was a five-minute radio broadcast on December 25, 1927. It raised £1,143 (which equates to much more these days, of course).
  • The first televised appeal was the Children's Hour Christmas Appeal in 1955, presented by Sooty and puppeteer Harry Corbett. The Christmas Day Appeals continued on TV and radio until 1979, raising £625,836 in total.
  • In 1980, the appeal was broadcast in a new telethon format on BBC One, hosted by Terry Wogan, Sue Lawley and Esther Rantzen. The donations increased significantly, breaking the £1m mark for the first time.
  • Pudsey Bear made his television debut in 1985, when Wogan introduced the new mascot to the audience. He was designed by graphics designer Joanna Ball, who named him after the West Yorkshire town where she was born.
  • So far, the Children In Need appeal has raised more than £740m and currently funds 2,600 projects for children and young people.

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