By Rachel Quigley
Off with his beard: Christine Bleakley gets to work on co-host Adrian Chiles's whiskers to raise £60,000
It was the most controversial facial hair on TV, prompting viewers to complain that his scruffy whiskers left Adrian Chiles looking more like a man who slept in his car than the host of the BBC’s flagship magazine show.
In fact, so keen were they to see him return to his former clean-shaven self that fans pledged £60,000 if the 42-year-old would remove the unkempt growth – and on Friday night he capitulated, with the aid of co-presenter Christine Bleakley.
The glamorous 31-year-old slathered shaving foam over her co-host’s face before taking a pair of clippers to the beard – which BBC chiefs had also asked him to remove as it was ‘inconsistent’ with his high-profile role.
The shave was in aid of Sport Relief, and helped contribute to the record-breaking £29million raised for the charity on Friday night – £10million more than the last event in 2008. BT said it received 387,000 calls to the donation line during the live TV show.
About nine million viewers tuned in to the six-hour telethon, enjoying appearances from David Beckham, Robbie Williams and Cheryl Cole, making her first British television performance since splitting from husband Ashley.
There were also special editions of Masterchef, Ashes To Ashes and Mock The Week.
Earlier last week Bleakley raised £250,000 for Sport Relief by water-skiing across the English Channel.
She was supported by Chiles through the 100-minute challenge, with him shouting encouragement through a loud-hailer.
‘If she can water-ski across the Channel and half-freeze to death, the least I can do is get rid of the beard,’ said Chiles, who has been growing his whiskers since January
Hirsute's you sir: Adrian, pictured with Christine, had been growing his beard since January
Support: Chiles was there shouting encouragement when Bleakley water-skied across the English Channel to raise £250,000
The presenters’ relationship has been the subject of rumours since they first appeared together on The One Show’s sofa, but Bleakley has been seeing Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard since October.
However, she is not expected to travel to South Africa to support him in this summer’s World Cup for fear of being branded a WAG. She also said it would be ‘too much, too soon’.
‘It’s going well with Frank but I want to take things slowly,’ she told a friend.
‘Going to South Africa would send out totally the wrong message. And there is no way I want to be classed as a WAG.’
A spokesman for Bleakley said: ‘As far as I am aware, she has no plans to go at the moment. But the World Cup is a long way off and anything could change between now and then.’
A friend of the presenter added: ‘Christine has worked very hard to build herself a profile as a serious TV presenter. The last thing she wants is to become just another WAG cheering on England from the sidelines.’