Robbie Williams has joined Take That on stage for the Children in Need concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, but he stopped short of performing with his former band.

Gary Barlow, who organised the concert, welcomed the 4,500-strong crowd and said: “What a perfect night for us to introduce an old friend”, as an emotional-looking Robbie appeared on stage alongside his old bandmates.

Gary and Robbie, who left the group in 1995, have both hinted at a reunion of the original line-up but, despite the teaser, the band left the stage to allow Robbie to perform his solo singles Bodies and You Know Me.

Speaking after his performance, Robbie said he was welling up before joining Take That on stage and he wanted to ‘milk’ the moment for a bit longer.

Asked why he did not perform with the band, the star said: “Something’s planned and you don’t want to shoot your bolt, do you?”

He refused to be drawn on when the reunion would take place, but denied it would be at next year’s Brit Awards. He said: “We’ll save that for something special, whatever that is.”

The night, which raised more than £500,000 in ticket sales for Children In Need, will be broadcast on BBC One on November 19.