RYLAN CLARK-NEAL is probably feeling a bit hoarse but very proud this morning after performing an incredible non-stop 24-hour singing session — and raising more than £928,000 into the bargain.
The Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two presenter, 31, was inspired to perform the feat for Children In Need, which takes place this Friday, after visiting a youth club in Essex that has benefited from past donations.
And he certainly did them proud, singing 236 songs and slurping honey every hour to keep his vocal cords from giving up the ghost.
But he didn’t do it alone. During the 24-hour marathon, he was joined on the live BBC Radio 2 broadcast by more than 90 celebrity guests, from Rick Astley to Nicole Scherzinger.
With Dermot O’Leary he sang You Don’t Bring Me Flowers; with Jeremy Vine it was Always On My Mind; with Trevor Nelson and DJ Spoony he joined in Rapper’s Delight; and there was even dancing with Strictly’s Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard.
But perhaps the crowning moment came just as the endpoint was nearing at 9.15am today, when Rylan was joined by Craig David for Fill Me In.
When DJ Zoe Ball introduced Craig halfway through the track, Rylan was clearly overwhelmed, saying: ‘Oh my God. This is unbelievable, I can’t believe it. This is not actually happening.’
But it was, and it did, just leaving time for him to finish up with a rendition of The Best with M People’s Heather Small.
Coming to the end of his epic feat, Rylan told Zoe: ‘I am in such a state this morning. It doesn’t feel real. None of it feels real.’
Zoe rewarded the exhausted singer by playing out the bells of his home town, Stanford-le-Hope, in Essex, which were ringing in his honour.
On hearing that the tally had reached £845,239, Rylan said: ‘That’s unbelievable, thank you so much.’
He was particularly glad to have been able to do his bit to help out the youngsters at Southend Association of Voluntary Services (Turning Tides) project in Essex, having visited and taken part in an arts and crafts lesson with them recently.
But Rylan said the thanks went both ways as the memory of that visit kept him going in the wee small hours.
‘I didn’t really think that I would need that, but actually visiting the project and meeting all the kids and volunteers and speaking to them and understanding how much this money impacts their lives, when I am sort of dying at four o’clock in the morning trying to garble together a song, I know what I’m doing it for now,’ he said.
Before turning in for a well-earned rest, Rylan tweeted: ‘I’m not really with it, but can’t thank you enough for all your donations for @BBCCiN #KaRYoke on @BBCRadio2. Nearly 900K now I can’t believe it. Thank you xx’.
The grand total will be revealed during Friday night’s Children In Need broadcast on BBC One.