The Royal Variety Performance 1912 – Present
The Royal Variety performance is the Great British Tradition of a gala evening attended by senior members of the Royal Family.
It’s first performance was in the days before TV and Radio, on 1st July 1912, in Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, in the presence of King George V and Queen Mary.
The first public broadcast was on BBC Radio, in 1926 where it stayed up until 1960.
In 1960 the show made it’s TV debut. From 1960 to 1975, ITV broadcast a recorded version of the show, switching to live broadcasts in 1976.
In 1986 through to 2010, production and broadcast of the show alternated each year between the BBC and ITV, with the BBC usually staging the show in a West End theatre and ITV in regional theatres outside London. From 2011, ITV have exclusive rights to televise the show.
One of the more recent changes to the show of course is since 2007, a place in the show has been reserved for the winner of Britain’s Got Talent.
Some of the greatest comedians of all time have performed here and we’ve showcased just a few here.
It’s not just comedians that have provided the comedy over the years, sitcoms have also played their part, with Steptoe and Son performing a sketch, the cast from Last Of The Summer Wine and most notably a special episode of The Good Life performed live from BBC Television centre in front of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke Of Edinburgh in 1978.
Finally a quip that has gone down in royal Variety history as a tribute to the late great John Lennon.
Channel: BBC1 and ITV
Original Air Date: 27 May 1926 (Radio), 16 May 1960 (TV)
No official DVD releases have been made of the performance, but the special performance of The Good Life –When I’m 65 is available on BBC DVD.