Children in Need 2021: Ed Sheeran opens charity show after recovering from Covid

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 Ed Sheeran performing on BBC Children in Need (BBC/PA)
Ed Sheeran performing on BBC Children in Need (BBC/PA)

Children In Need 2021 kicked off the 41st year of its annual fundraising event with a vibrant performance from Ed Sheeran.

The chart-topping singer, who was forced to self-isolate last month, took to the stage with his latest hit single Overpass Graffiti.

Anne-Marie and Niall Horan also performed live on the BBC show which was hosted by a string of famous faces including Graham Norton, Mel Giedroyc, Alex Scott, Chris Ramsey and Ade Adepitan.

It was broadcast from Salford, Greater Manchester, for the first time with the theme ‘Together We Can.’

Children charity’s mascot Pudsey was then seen arriving at the studio in James Bond style as he pulled up in a speedboat to the 007 theme tune.

The yellow bear was greeted by famous faces along the way, including news presenter Naga Munchetty, Welsh weatherman Owain Wyn Evans and England football star Harry Maguire.

Viewers enjoyed a night of jam-packed entertainment through a glittering evening of fun and fundraising.

The first segment of the evening saw Olympic and Paralympic athletes compete against one another in school sports day challenges including the sack race and egg and spoon race.

The stars, including diver Matty Lee, cyclist and swimmer Dame Sarah Storey and gymnast Max Whitlock, were coached by roadcaster Clare Balding who acted as head of PE.

Eastenders and Coronation Street soap stars met in a celebrity version of First Dates towards the end of the show.

Walford’s Janine Butcher, played by Charlie Brooks, and Weatherfield’s Steve McDonald, played by Simon Gregson, came face to face on screen in search of love.

Weatherman drummer Owain made Children in Need history after raising more than £3 million in his 24-hour charity drumathon for the cause.

Matt Baker and young cyclists have raised more than £2 million after cycling 142 miles across the UK in the Rickshaw Challenge.

Graham Norton was among the show’s hosts (BBC/Ray Burmiston)
Graham Norton was among the show’s hosts (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

It means the TV presenter has now raised £43 million for Children in Need over 11 years.

The money raised through the show will help support local charities and projects providing essential frontline help to children and young people in communities throughout the UK.

Appearing from the Strictly studio, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman brought further glitz and glamour to the appeal and asked judges to explain the gift aid rules using their number paddles.

Singer Tom Grennan was seen leading the UK with a nationwide singalong while Graham appeared in a red chair special with children.

Angels of the North salon was joined by a new recruit and the cast of 9 to 5 met RuPaul’s drag race UK.

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