Devised by then MD of the London Palladium Val Parnell in 1955, Sunday Night at the London Palladium entertained millions of viewers for over a decade and saw numerous spin-offs, imitations and even revivals over the years. Now ITV are returning to the format once more.The show, produced by ATV London, aired live from the iconic theatre with a weekly variety bill which played host to big name stars of the day, new debut acts and quirky vaudeville routines. The series became famous for its opening sequence which starred the shows dance troupe the Tiller Girls, game show segment Beat The Clock and the farewell at the end of the show which saw all the performers waving as the centre of the stage revolved around and around.
Launched in September 1955 the series ran until February 1969 and had already spun-off successful sister shows such as The New Palladium Show. Hosts of the television Palladium shows included comedians Tommy Trinder, Bob Monkhouse, Ted Rogers and Jimmy Tarbuck, performers Des O’Connor, Norman Vaughan, Jim Dale and most famously Bruce Forsyth which the series launched his orbit into stardom.
At its launch Parnell told the press:
“A television set is another front door to your house. Open it and you admit someone into your home. In sending people to your front door we shoulder a delicate responsibility to maintain a service of entertainment which will hold the public’s preference. You, our audience, are the people I’m aiming to please. You are the people who make this whole vast industry possible. You are here to enjoy yourselves, and for our part we intend to make that possible.”
ATV, headed by theatre mogul Lew Grade, attempted a short-lived revival in 1973, following the success of studio based Saturday Variety which had launched in the previous year, however it failed to live up to its earlier success and ended in ’74. In 2000 ITV attempted another revival, this time on Friday nights with the series airing as Tonight at the London Palladium, however even the luring back of the shows most famous host – Bruce Forsyth – couldn’t give it the ratings ITV craved and it ended after one series.
Now ITV are once again to attempt to put life back into the format as the broadcaster today announces a new six part series. Following the original format the show will see guest hosts present each edition.
“Some of the UK’s best-loved comics and entertainers will host one show each and introduce some of the biggest stars from music and comedy onto one of the world’s most famous stages. There will also be jaw dropping specialty acts from around the world plus surprise guests.” – ITV Studios
“We’ve got some great hosts and fantastic guests booked to play the iconic stage of the London Palladium and we’re excited that Sunday Night At The Palladium will be a fun and unmissable part of our weekend line up.” – ITV’s Commissioning Editor, Entertainment Peter Davey
Pictured Top: Bruce Forsyth and the London Palladium, Middle Top: The Tiller Girls have a French theme in 1973, Middle Bottom: One of the famous closing sequences as the stars are seen rotating around the stage and Bottom: The Palladium exterior in 2011.