Pudsey the bear won’t be the only cartoon character taking part in Friday’s Children in Need: a collaboration with Warner Bros. will see the famous feuding cat and mouse Tom and Jerry chasing each other across the sets of five BBC shows, encountering the Strictly judges, Lord Sugar and Gary Lineker. This exclusive new episode of the classic cartoon is based on a BBC advert from the early 1990s in which Julie Walters played a Mary Whitehouse-style character who tries to complain but, after bumping into stars such as Lenny Henry and David Attenborough in the BBC studios, decides to drop her complaint.
In this new animation, Tom and Jerry receive a letter from Pudsey, voiced by Terry Wogan, asking for help with the fundraiser. Armed with a bucket, they tour the BBC studios, dropping in on Strictly, Match of the Day, The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off. Next they invade EastEnders and are ordered out of the Queen Vic by Mick (Danny Dyer), before finally bursting onto the Children in Need stage.
Paul Wright, executive producer of Children in Need, says he was delighted to be approached by Warner Bros. “All Tom and Jerry do is chase each other,” he says. “This is one long chase sequence.”
The collaboration relied on US designers creating cartoon versions of UK shows. Asked about the difficulty of capturing Craig Revel Horwood’s sour expression, Lord Sugar’s craggy brow and Gary Lineker’s ears, Warner Bros’ Vice-President, Series, Jay Bastian, says, “I’ve not seen Match of the Day, but this is what the internet was made for. We did send models back and forth to make sure we got it right.”
“We sent them set photos, clips and publicity pictures,” says Wright. “They could see, for example, that Lord Sugar is quite straight-talking and realised it wouldn’t take much to annoy him, so they took that on board and that’s what Tom and Jerry do.”
The two-minute cartoon took more than six months to put together. “Wogan has seen it and was bowled over,” says Wright. “He thinks it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done for Children in Need.”