The BBC's Children in Need appeal is growing ever closer to last year's total - with almost £24 million pledged to the charity extravaganza so far.

The total for this year's event stood at £23,924,385 with less than an hour left of the live show. The corporation, which is reeling after the Jimmy Savile sex scandal and botched Newsnight investigation, raised £26.3 million during the 2011 live show, with the total growing to over £46.9 million after the big night.

This year's seven-hour live entertainment show was kicked off from London's BBC Television Centre with Sir Terry Wogan, who was joined by co-hosts Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton. TV and musical favourites taking to the stage to get the party started included One Direction, with a performance of While We're Young.

Girls Aloud also made their long-awaited comeback after three years apart, taking to the stage in matching orange off-the-shoulder tulip dresses. The group performed the official BBC Children in Need AA side single, Something New, for the first time on TV and followed it up with single Beautiful Because You Love Me.

British stars Leona Lewis and Ellie Goulding also took part in the show while Australian songstress Kylie Minogue performed a medley of her hits.

David Ramsden, BBC Children in Need chief executive, said: "This year's campaign is bigger and better than ever and people right across the country are once again coming together to raise thousands that will help change the lives of disadvantaged children right here in the UK."

Sir Terry addressed the current crisis enveloping the BBC in a video segment he introduced. The presenter said: "Children should be able to trust adults, that should be a given; our role is to protect them.

"Sadly, as we know, there are times when adults abuse that trust and in the film we're about to show you, three workers from Children in Need-funded projects who help and support support children and victims of sexual abuse tell us the dreadful effect that abuse has had on young lives, but how, with your help, we can make a difference." The segment included the statistics that more than one in three sexually abused children do not tell anyone else about it.

Highlights of the fundraiser, which is in its 32nd year, also included an exclusive Doctor Who "prequel" to its Christmas special, featuring the first glimpse of the Doctor with his new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman. There was also a Strictly Come Dancing special with two of the previous most memorable contestants, Ann Widdecombe and Russell Grant.

The programme kicked off with The One Show BBC Children in Need Special, in which the youngsters involved were welcomed back from a rickshaw challenge. The team raised more than £1.1 million for the appeal after they cycled from Llandudno to London on a rickshaw, covering 411 miles over eight days.