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The time of year to help those near: Text Santa's back!

Alesha Dixon will join PaddyMcGuinness for one hour of the charity extravaganza Credit: Doug Peters/Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

AleshaDixon joins the presenter line-up of ITV’s Text Santa for the first time this year, it was announced today.

Singer and Britain’s Got Talent judge partners Paddy McGuinness for one hour of the charity appeal extravaganza on Friday, 19th December.

Ant &Dec, Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley will also present a Text Santa that's bigger than ever, with chart-topping live music performances and some of the biggest names in show business. Amongst some of the treats lined up, George Clooney takes part in a specially-written scene of Downton Abbey; The Cube has a unique Text Santa twist and the stars of Coronation Street perform as we’ve never seen them before.

Text Santa 2014 promises three hours of non-stop entertainment, full to the brim of surprises.

The show raises money and awareness for six UK-based charities in the run-up to the big night. This year’s chosen charities are Teenage Cancer Trust,Guide Dogs, WellChild, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Alzheimer’s Society and Together for Short Lives.

Viewers can donate by visiting the Text Santa Just Giving page

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Little Ant and Dec quiz David Cameron in Downing Street

After weeks of build up, ITV's annual fundraising show Text Santa is here. Ant and Dec will open the show - and their alter-egos, little Ant and Dec, have been to 10 Downing Street to question the Prime Minister himself.

The annual fundraiser raises money for six charities, which help people of all ages across the UK. There are plenty of surprises and one off performances planned for the show.

David Wood has been backstage for us to see how preparations are going.

Watch Text Santa from 8pm on Friday, 20th December.

Michelle Keegan had fun working with Cheryl Cole on Coronation Street

The actress Michelle Keegan, who plays Tina McIntyre in Coronation Street, said she had great fun working with Cheryl Cole on Coronation Street. The pop star from Newcastle made a cameo appearance on the cobbles as part of ITV's Text Santa appeal.

Cheryl Cole and Michelle Keegan behind the bar in the Rovers Return Credit: ITV

Michelle Keegan said: "I was really excited when I found out that Cheryl Cole was going to be filming at Corrie. She is someone I really admire and I have never met her properly so when I found out she was going to play Tina's friend I couldn't believe it.

"They say never meet your idols but she was amazing. She is such a huge Corrie fan and she was genuinely pleased to be filming with us. I sat and chatted with her for ages which was lovely. She didn't need any tips from us all though, she was really good, a natural.

"She knew all her lines and she seemed to really enjoy herself. Malcolm Hebden, who plays Norris, made her laugh. She was great fun to have on set and I am really thrilled that Text Santa gave me the chance to work with her."

First look at Cheryl Cole in Coronation Street

Cheryl Cole makes Steve McDonald's jaw drop as she makes her entrance into the Rovers Return on Coronation Street. The pop star from Newcastle is making her cameo appearance as part of ITV's Text Santa appeal, to raise money for a selection of charities.

The scenes featuring Cheryl Cole will be broadcast tonight at 8pm on ITV.

Big Bag Pack raised over £100,000 for Text Santa charities

Pam was kept busy by shoppers at Morrisons in Killingworth. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees
All for a good cause: funds raised by Ross and many others will go to six key charities. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Last week’s Big Bag Pack raised £104,000for the six key charities being supported by ITV’s Text Santa campaign.

Thousands of volunteers joined ITV Newsteams across the country to pack bags at local supermarkets.

Money raised by the Text Santa campaign will support six key charities. Age UK, Barnardo’s, BeatBullying, the British Heart Foundation, CLIC Sargent (which supports children with cancer) and Help the Hospices will all benefit.

Our presenter, Pam Royle, and our weather presenter, Ross Hutchinson, were kept busy by shoppers at Morrisons in Killingworth.

If you would still like to get involved it is not too late: click here for some fundraising inspiration.

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Full report: We look at the work of bullying charity supported by Text Santa

All this week, we have been looking at how ITV's Christmas fundraiser, Text Santa, will benefit people in the North East.

Since its launch in 2011, the appeal has raised £10m. This year, Beat Bullying is one of the charities being supported.

In the last of our reports, Katie Oakes has been to meet a teenager on Teesside who is now a mentor after she was bullied herself.

ITV on Text Santa appeal

ITV says:

100% of donations made by viewers are evenly distributed to ITV's chosen charities within three months of each televised appeal.

All Text Santa operating costs including staffing and the programme itself are funded directly by ITV as part of its corporate giving, and not from its corporate partners or viewer contributions.

– ITV spokesperson

Text Santa: Help the Hospices

This year's Text Santa appeal is in full swing.

Money raised by the ITV Christmas appeal will be shared equally between six different charities.

One of those is Help the Hospices.

In the first of our reports on how people in the North East will benefit from money raised, Katie Oakes met a family from County Durham who are being supported after losing a relative to cancer.

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