The BBC's admirable annual charitable effort, the telethon for Children in Need, raised a record £26m over its six-hour broadcast this year, suggesting that a taste of austerity in the country at large may have helped foster sympathy for those who are much worse off.
But the telethon's success has also given a head of steam to another idea whose time has surely come. It is, after all, not only children who are in need – indeed, children who are ill or deprived are relatively well served by a multitude of different charities – but elderly people, too. Far fewer charities cater to their needs, which are going increasingly unmet as life expectancy increases and councils cut their services.
A drive to persuade those who do not need their winter fuel allowance to donate it to those who do is turning out to be a quiet success, and calls have multiplied for a telethon, for want of a better word, for oldies. Perhaps next year the BBC could offer a 12-hour double-bill.