The BBC's charity and annual telethon, established in 1980. As the name implies, it is dedicated to children and to rectifying "child issues" (child abuse, bullying, youth homelessness, underage prostitution, etc.). Its mascot is a mute yellow teddy bear called Pudsey, with a polka dot handkerchief-bandage tied round one side of his head, covering one of his eyes.
The yearly TV telethon airs in the late autumn on BBC One and involves special musical performances by pop stars, and West-End casts (and, recently, the BBC Newsreaders). It also includes skits and spoofs like Comic Relief, although the focus is more on light entertainment than actual comedy. It is one of the few events where programmes from "the other side" will take part (the cast of The Bill are game for a lot of things). Includes an annual charity single.
The BBC News goes in the middle, separating the show into a family-friendly and not-so-family friendly part. This is usually opposite a special edition of a Panel Game on BBC Two.
After Doctor Who successfully revived, the BBC has twice made seven-minute shorts to be aired during Children in Need. The first was a transition from "The Parting of the Ways" to "The Christmas Invasion" (2005); the second, "Time Crash" (2007) is a meeting of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) which also explains the transition from "Last of the Time Lords" to "Voyage of the Damned". In 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and the entirety of the Twelfth Doctor's run from 2014 to 2017 they instead aired excerpts from the upcoming Christmas Specials. In 2011 this was preceded by blatant fanservice. 2012 saw "The Great Detective", a short exploring the Doctor's emotional state between "The Angels Take Manhattan" and "The Snowmen", while 2013 had an excerpt of "The Day of the Doctor". Segments for the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) live up to the name "Children in Need": 2018 had a non-fiction short where Whittaker brings a young fan with cystic fibrosis on a tour of the TARDIS set and 2019 saw her make a surprise appearance live on stage and in costume to meet another young fan.
They'd previously done one in 1993 ("Dimensions in Time", written off as non-canon by the Doctor Who Expanded Universenote and much later by "Army of Ghosts"note .) to celebrate the show's 30th Anniversary. Due to contract thingies, this will probably never be aired again or turn up on DVD... not that the fans would mind. The 20th Anniversary special "The Five Doctors" aired on the night in 1983.
This telethon is best watched recorded and with liberal use of the Fast-Forward button.
This telethon series contains examples of:
- Crossover: Not on crack, but a bath full of baked beans (i.e., intensely silly), such as:
- Doctor Who/EastEnders (the aforementioned "Dimensions In Time")
- Top Gear/Ashes to Ashes (2008)
- For a short period of time, opposite the news, Have I Got Buzzcocks All Over before the third part of that was canned. This slot is now usually filled by a Very Special Episode of QI.
- Peter Kay's Animated All-Star Band; a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of nearly every significant British Stop Motion kids' cartoon (with a few 2D British and American cartoons being shown on TV screens with "Live via Satellite" on, most likely to avoid serious Medium Blending), doing "The Official BBC Children in Need Medley" as a charity single.
- The 2010 edition gave us EastStreet.
- In 2011, Dragons' Apprentice.
- Distaff Counterpart: In 2009, Pudsey was joined by his 'best friend', a female brown bear called Blush, who wears a bow made from the same spotty material as Pudsey's eyepatch. She's still not actually used much outside of The Merch though.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Pudsey, symbolically.