At a time when the UK is experiencing a situation unlike many of us have ever witnessed, it has been uplifting to see the strength of the human spirit.
For people of my generation, I don’t think the nation has ever felt so together. Every day we see enormous acts of kindness and courage — not just from those in the NHS and the extraordinary efforts of the workers keeping the country running — but all around us, with neighbours helping each other and people using social media in totally new ways to provide help.
Isolation can be tough, not to mention lonely, but we are all trying our best and because of that the UK has never felt more united.
That’s why we’re inviting everyone to share a Big Night In — a night of fantastic entertainment everyone can participate in from their sofas tonight from 7pm until 10pm.
Pictured: Comedians David Walliams and Matt Lucas seen during a Little Britain sketch
For the first time, Children In Need and Comic Relief are joining together for a very special night. Personal distancing means there will only be a few of us in the studio and no enormous production team. We’re even using the technology we all use it home, like Skype and Zoom.
I’ve been a board member of BBC Children In Need for many years and its very purpose is to be there for those who need us most, when they need it most.
We support more than 3,000 projects across the UK, and many are in real trouble. I know the same is true for the work Comic Relief supports.
Children In Need supports the youngest members of society, but what is wonderful about joining with Comic Relief, who I have worked with as a presenter, is we can support vulnerable people of all ages.
Everyone’s favourite woman of the cloth, the Vicar Of Dibley’s Geraldine (aka Dawn French) will be back to offer a message of hope from self-isolation
Joe Wicks, adopted as the nation’s lockdown PE teacher, has a special workout planned for the Big Night In
So we will be trying to raise funds to support people who so desperately need it. Should you want to donate, any amount — however big or small — will be gratefully accepted.
But this is not one of those pledge evenings where we continually ask for donations. This is a night of acknowledgement, a night of togetherness, a night of us being there for each other and doing the best we can to help those who are incredibly vulnerable.
Through the power of TV together we’ll support, give thanks and acknowledge how we’re making the best of the situation we find ourselves in.
Viewers can expect some amazing entertainment. We’ve got Peter Kay, Catherine Tate and Little Britain to name a few. We’ve been inundated with people wanting to be involved.
STRICTLY STARS GET US DANCING
Always wanted to give Strictly a go? Well, now’s the time
The show’s professionals have teamed up (from a distance) to create a routine set to Dua Lipa’s Physical.
Each dancer has choreographed and filmed a ten-second section, with the public being encouraged to join in.
Pictured: Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec
All seven sections have already been unveiled on The One Show and BBC website, with Janette and Aljaz kicking things off, and stars including Anton and Oti carrying on the chain — leaving just enough time for home dancers to record their moves and send their video clips in via social media using #keepdancingchallenge.
A selection of videos will then be included in a ‘supercut’ of the best moments to be shown on the night.
Keep your eyes peeled, and you might spot a few familiar faces and even a Strictly judge or two, as well as your own family.
Not worked up enough of a sweat? Joe Wicks, adopted as the nation’s lockdown PE teacher, has a special workout.
It’s been unbelievable hearing what people have been doing and a real joy to see the entertainment industry joining together.
Myself, Lenny Henry and Davina McCall are going to start the night off in the One Show studio. We haven’t 100 per cent decided when we will hand over to Zoe Ball, Paddy McGuinness and Lenny, who will stay on — maybe after the NHS clap at 8pm! Everyone else is going to be broadcasting from home. It’s live, so anything could happen!
But that’s the joy of live TV; we want it to be loose and interactive, we want to hear from those watching, we want it to feel like a big old night in. As for what you, the great British public can do, you have been fantastic already.
What we want to do is give you a little bit of respite and have a wonderful night together.
But what we want most is for people to tune in, get involved, send us your videos and messages and we will do our best to acknowledge you. It’s going to be three hours of the best we can do, but we need you to make it happen.
So get in touch and we look forward to seeing you tonight!
Here Beth Hale tells you everything you need to know…
THE LUSH LINE-UP
Planning for an event like Children in Need is a rolling affair, with thoughts turning to the next annual telethon the moment the last one goes live.
But The Big Night In has been put together in a few weeks — although thankfully BBC Studios Entertainment has been able to call upon programmes like Eastenders and Strictly Come Dancing to help. The five presenters are expecting a few hiccups, but are embracing the delightful absence of a firm plan.
While there will be a skeleton crew filming in the studio, even comedians and pop stars have to practise social distancing, so you can expect to see several familiar faces broadcasting from their own homes via Zoom and Skype.
Some recorded sketches have been filmed using higher spec cameras than your average iPhone —but comedians like Jack Whitehall and Romesh Ranganathan had to set up and record themselves.
CHARITY SINGLE WITH A TWIST
Radio 1’s Live Lounge is delivering a literal spin on its popular format to create a charity single, recorded in lockdown.
Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Chris Martin and Rita Ora are among the artists on a cover of the Foo Fighters’ Times Like These, which will be released at midday today. It’s been both recorded and filmed by artists from their own homes.
Other performers include Little Mix and Sam Smith, while Gary Barlow performs Sing with friends including Liam Payne, Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe.
Catherine Tate’s stroppy ‘Am I bovvered’ Lauren will be seen with ‘teacher’ David Tennant, in a sketch doing her schoolwork remotely
CHANCE TO MEET AUTHOR WALLIAMS
David Walliams has another surprise in store. The acclaimed children’s author is offering fans the chance to name a character in his next book (and meet him, when restrictions are lifted).
It’s not the only treat up for grabs, with ‘loads of amazing prizes’ on offer, including the chance to design your own Morgan sports car and meet Little Mix.
HOW IS IT ALL GOING TO HELP?
This time around Children In Need and Comic Relief are joining together not so much for a telethon as for one giant house party, to raise spirits and rally the nation. It’s the first time the Beeb’s biggest charitable partners have collaborated for an event of this kind and funds raised will be split between the two.
LOOK WHO THEY FOUND IN THE TARDIS
There’s a treat in store for Doctor Who fans, with ten doctors past and present being virtually united (through time and space, of course) to support the nation’s real life health heroes.
Pictured: Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who
They are: Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, Jodie Whittaker and Jo Martin (the Fugitive Doctor).
They have recorded a thank you for the NHS and all frontline workers to be shown shortly before the weekly Clap For Carers at 8pm.
The funding will provide vital emergency support to ensure vulnerable people of all ages are safe, warm and fed, but will also ensure they are able to continue to learn, and stay connected in order to combat loneliness.
Three key areas have been identified: food and other basic essentials; connecting people with services; and supporting local charities and projects to adapt to tackle hidden risks such as domestic abuse, child abuse, extreme poverty and mental health concerns.
As well as all the many small independent charities and community-based projects they support, some funding will also go to NHS Charities Together, via Comic Relief, to help provide psychological and mental health support to NHS workers to cope with the aftermath of Covid-19, plus bereavement counselling and support to families of frontline NHS staff who have lost their lives.
Many households are struggling as the pandemic continues, but Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the Treasury will match pound for pound any contributions the public are able to make.
FILM FROM HEART OF THE ACTION
The event wouldn’t be complete without the films that always bring the projects in need to life.
Viewers can expect to see some familiar faces, as cameras revisit the stories of children who have featured in previous Children In Need appeals.
One project will be Emergency Essentials, an enterprise which supports very disadvantaged children in times of crisis.
Meanwhile, Comic Relief has put together films looking at the impact of hunger, domestic violence and how to look after mental health.
Viewers will see vulnerable families supported by Fareshare, which ensures those who need it have food on their tables.
On Fareshare worker is Steve. Currently working non-stop days, five years ago he was reliant on food banks to support him and his then five-year-old daughter.
The public will also get a glimpse of some of the ways the elderly have been staying in touch with loved ones and there will be a visit to 94-year-old Brin and his young friend Eve, who featured on Sports Relief and used to sing together in a choir.
RETURN OF SOME MUCH-LOVED STARS
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
The most important thing you can do is tune in for the live broadcast on BBC1, from 7pm to 10pm tonight.
The 8pm Clap For Carers will be a key focal point of the night, with cameras filming the applause as it happens all over the UK.
There will be opportunities for viewers to donate, as well as win prizes.
But rather than endless reminders of the tally of donations and appeals to pledge, the focus is to be more on bringing people together.
And there’s plenty to get the whole family involved.
Scouts are being encouraged to join the action by hiking to the moon; that is, all scouts are being asked to do a sponsored one-mile walk in lockdown to collectively cover the 240,000 miles it would take to get to the moon.
Visit bbc.co.uk/bignightin to find bunting, badges, posters and flags that can be printed out and coloured in ready for tonight’s fun.
It’s been two years since Peter Kay made his last TV appearance when his sitcom Car Share ended, but tonight he’ll be back to cheer us all up.
Fans will be delighted to know he is re-creating his Comic Relief music video to the Tony Christie hit (Is This The Way To) Amarillo, with a twist.
This time he wants to include you! To be in with a chance of making it into his final video, just get marching to the original track, film it in landscape and upload the footage to social media with the hashtag #BigNightInAmarillo.
Everyone’s favourite woman of the cloth, the Vicar Of Dibley’s Geraldine (aka Dawn French) will also be back to offer a message of hope from self-isolation.
Putting in a surprise return are David Walliams and Matt Lucas with a new Little Britain sketch, their first in more than ten years.
There will also be appearances by Miranda and Mary Berry while an EastEnders virtual pub quiz will be hosted by Ian Beale.
Catherine Tate’s stroppy ‘Am I bovvered’ Lauren will be seen with ‘teacher’ David Tennant, in a sketch doing her schoolwork remotely.