Three days before the BBC hosts its annual Children in Need telethon it is desperately fighting to shore up public trust in the organisation.
The event raised a record £26m last year but charity bodies have warned of “profound difficulties” in raising money in the economic downturn and the BBC’s task has been made much harder by the public dismay at its current chaotic state.
As the BBC prepared to launch Children in Need, in the wake of revelations that the telethon had previously had to ban Jimmy Savile from taking part in the event, it emerged that the amount given to good causes has fallen from £11 billion to £9.3 billion in the last year, the largest annual drop ever recorded. John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said that the dip was “deeply worrying for charities which rely on donations to provide vital front-line services.”
The telethon, with its bandaged mascot Pudsey Bear, will be presented on Friday by Sir Terry Wogan, along with Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton. It will feature live performances from One Direction, Girls Aloud, Paloma Faith and Leona Lewis.
“Once again this year the Great British public have been busy fundraising to raise vital funds for BBC Children in Need and the whole campaign is set to culminate in a fantastic Appeal Show on Friday night,” said a BBC spokesperson defiantly tonight. “Our aim this year, like every year, is to raise as much money as possible and we are on track to raise millions to help change the lives of disadvantaged children across the UK.”