Royal Variety Performance

Royal Variety Performance

The Royal Variety Performance is a gala evening held annually in the United Kingdom, which is attended by senior members of the British Royal Family, normally the reigning monarch. The performance showcases a variety of family entertainment, including comedy, singing, dance, circus and other speciality acts, with many of the performers being popular celebrities. The event is organised on behalf of the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund, to which all proceeds are donated.

The performance is televised to the public and is considered by many to be a tradition of the Christmas season, being held late in November, or early in December. The responsibility of producing and broadcasting the performance is shared alternately between the BBC and ITV and it is becoming a tradition for the BBC to stage the performance in London's West End and for ITV to stage it in regional theatres outside of London.

The performance is a New Year's tradition in Norway, where it is broadcast at 00:00 on January 1.

First show

The first performance, on July 1, 1912, was called the Royal Command Performance, and this name has persisted informally for the event. This was held in the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, in the presence of King George V and Queen Mary. The king said he would attend a once-yearly variety show, provided the profits went to the Variety Artistes' Benevolent Fund, as the EABF was then known. This first staging was a lavish occasion, and the theatre was decorated with 3 million roses draped around the auditorium and over the boxes [ [ "The Royal Variety Performance" (London Theatre Museum] accessed 24 October 2007] .

The organisers did not invite Marie Lloyd, one of the most famous music hall artists of the time, because of a professional dispute. She held a rival performance in a nearby theatre, which she advertised was "by command of the British public". The name of the event was changed to prevent possible royal embarrassment. It became an annual event at the suggestion of King George V from 1921.

Further performances

The show was frequently staged in the London Palladium theatre, and in the 1950s and 1960s a television show based on the same idea, called "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" and hosted by many entertainers including Bruce Forsyth, ran for over 20 years. Television coverage of the royal show itself traditionally alternates each year between the BBC and ITV.

Almost every conceivable sort of act has at one time or another been presented to the monarch at the Royal Command Performance, including The Beatles in 1963, The Supremes in 1968 and The Blue Man Group in 2005. At the Beatles' show on November 4 1963, John Lennon delivered a line to the well-heeled audience which has passed into

The money raised by the Royal Variety Performance provides most of the funding for Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund and its home, Brinsworth House, a home for retired members of the entertainment profession and their dependents.

List of performances

Britain's Got Talent

Since 2007, the headline act of the Royal Variety show has been selected by the British public through the ITV1 television talent show Britain's Got Talent.

Devised by music and television impresario Simon Cowell, the show is produced by his company SYCO TV. It was originally due to be launched in the UK in 2006, presented by Paul O'Grady, however a dispute between ITV and O'Grady caused him to leave the station and the pilot series was cancelled. The format was subsequently launched in America, where the winner receives a deal to perform in Las Vegas.

The show follows a series of auditions. First of all, there is an audition tour in which the celebrity judging panel of Simon Cowel, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan travel nationwide watching potential acts and picking their favourites. The panel then select the best of these acts to compete in a series of five semi-finals, which are broadcast live on ITV, between Monday and Friday on one week. A public telephone vote decides the most popular act in each semi-final, which then progresses to the final, along with a second act chosen by the judges. The grand final is then broadcast live on the Saturday following the semi-finals and all the acts perform again for the public vote. Whilst the judges comment on the performances, the eventual winner is decided entirely by the public.


The winner of the 2007 series was operatic vocalist Paul Potts. He performed the aria Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot for the Queen at the RVP staged at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. He also won a £100,000 cash prize and a £1 million multi-album recording contract with Simon Cowell. Consequently, his first album titled "One Chance", reached number one in the music charts of fourteen countries worldwide including the UK, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Germany.


The winner of the 2008 series was street dancer George Sampson from Leeds. He will perform for the Prince of Wales at the RVP to be staged at the London Palladium on 11th December 2008. It is believed he will perform a reworked version of the dance he performed at the finals, a routine to the Mint Royale remix of Singin' In The Rain.

Notable appearances & trivia

* Dame Shirley Bassey has appeared at the variety performance a number of times, and her 1994 performance received the show's first standing ovation in more than twenty years. She again received a standing ovation in 2005, this was only the fourth time in the shows history that this had happened.

* Sixteen performances have been cancelled because of world conflict or the Royal Family's official mourning.

* The 2007 performance was notable for having an American band (Bon Jovi) headline for the first time.

* An event by the name of the National Variety Performance was setup in 2006 as a peoples version of the RVP organised and directed by Alex Maine.


External links

* [ Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund]
* [ Royal Variety Performance 2007]
* [ Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh]

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