Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Royal Variety Still Spice of Life over 100 Years on; SMALL SCREEN

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Royal Variety Still Spice of Life over 100 Years on; SMALL SCREEN

Article excerpt

THERE aren't many concerts in which Robbie Williams and Alicia Keys share the bill with a dancing dog, or Cilla Black shows off her pins (and then some) in a racy leotard, but then the Royal Variety Performance is a show like no other.

Since the first event was held back in 1912, in aid of the Variety Artistes' Benevolent Fund (now known as the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund), we've seen home-grown stars, Hollywood A-Listers and, more recently, Britain's Got Talent winners, light up the stage.

This year's line-up at the London Palladium doesn't disappoint either - viewers can look forward to Dame Shirley Bassey, Bette Midler, One Direction and Ed Sheeran, among others.

But before settling down in front of the TV for your royal appointment, let's look back on more than a century of song, dance and comedy - and the occasional gaffe. Royal Variety Performance, it's time to take your bow...

What do you Home-grown talent FROM Rochdale's Gracie Fields to West Lothian's Susan Boyle, the Royal Variety Performance has showcased some of the nation's brightest and best talent over the years. And while most acts are on their best behaviour for the gig, there has been no shortage of ' gargle with...

pebbles? Prince Philip to Tom Jones surprises over the years.

In 1963, Beatles fans clamoured outside the Prince Of Wales Theatre while the Fab Four rehearsed inside. On the night, the band played a handful of their hits and John Lennon famously said to the audience: "For our last number, I'd like to ask for your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands, and the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery..."

Meanwhile, Cilla Black raised eyebrows in 2001 when she performed You Gotta Get A Gimmick, from the musical Gypsy, in a skimpy basque with strategically placed light-up hearts. Saucy co-star Lily Savage (aka Black's good pal Paul O'Grady) quipped: "Mind you don't singe yourself ".

Not all the unexpected moments have been quite so entertaining, however. The 2011 Royal Variety Performance in Salford encountered so many technical problems that host Peter Kay joked the event had been "20 minutes of entertainment dragged out over two-and-a-half hours".

Hollywood comes to town THE Royal Variety has also played host to top international stars. Wizard Of Oz actress Judy Garland lit up the stage in 1957, Rat Pack star Sammy Davis Jr wowed the audience during the first televised performance in 1960, German actress Marlene Dietrich performed in 1963 (the same year as the Beatles' jewellery-rattling appearance) and The Jackson 5 brought the house down with a medley of hits in 1972.

But big-name stars occasionally bring big demands; singer Jennifer Lopez reportedly insisted on an all-white dressing room when she performed in 2001 (Sir Elton John, on the other hand, apparently only requested a simple cheese and pickle sandwich the same year). …

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