Sunday Night at the Palladium

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Sunday Night at the Palladium
Sunday Night at the Palladium.jpg
Also known as Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1955–65, 1973–74)
The London Palladium Show (1966–69)
Tonight at the London Palladium (2000)
Genre Variety
Created by Val Parnell
Presented by Various (2014–)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 411 (1955–74)[1]
6 (2014–)
Location(s) London Palladium
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) ATV (1955–74)
LWT (2000)
ITV Studios (2014–)
Distributor ITV Studios
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3, 16:9
Original run 25 September 1955 (1955-09-25) – present
Related shows Live from...

Sunday Night at the Palladium is a British television variety show that was hosted from the London Palladium theatre in London's West End. Originally produced by ATV for the ITV network from 1955 to 1969, it went by its original name Sunday Night at the London Palladium from 25 September 1955 to 1965 until the name was changed to The London Palladium Show from 1966 to 2 February 1969.

It underwent three revivals, first from 28 October 1973 to 28 October 1974 where it retained its Sunday Night at the London Palladium title, second in 2000 under the title Tonight at the London Palladium, and third from 2014 onwards under the title Sunday Night at the Palladium dropping London.


The regular hosts of the show were Tommy Trinder (1955–1958), Bruce Forsyth (1958–1960 and 1961–64), Don Arrol (1960–61), Norman Vaughan (1962–1965, 1974), Jimmy Tarbuck (1965–67) and Jim Dale (1973–74). Other guest comperes were: Hughie Green, Alfred Marks, Robert Morley, Arthur Haynes, Dickie Henderson, Dave Allen, Des O'Connor, Bob Monkhouse and Roger Moore.

The first ever show was compered by Tommy Trinder with Gracie Fields and Guy Mitchell being the night's big guests. The programme was one of ITV's most watched, reaching its biggest audience in January 1960 while Bruce Forsyth was the host, in an edition featuring Cliff Richard and The Shadows, watched by more than 20 million people.

However according to the book Television's Greatest Hits written and researched by Paul Gambaccini and Rod Taylor the biggest viewing audience was 9.7 million in 1964 (although this would have been homes, rather than viewers, as this was the way British television viewing figures were recorded at the time). This was on Sunday 19 April when Bruce Forsyth introduced The Bachelors, Hope and Keen and Frank Ifield with the Pamela Devis Dancers.

After the Tiller girls and the lesser acts in the first part was the game show, Beat the Clock, the format of which was rather like Bruce Forsyth's later hit in The Generation Game. It featured words stuck to a magnetic board and people had to "arrange them into a well known phrase or saying" in 30 seconds as the second hand moved around a large clock face. Other times couples had to perform a trick or stunt, like even changing clothes (previously put on, on top of their ordinary clothes) with each other within a set time.

The second part of the show was were the big stars shone. It featured many top people over the years including Bill Haley rocking around the clock, Chubby Checker who introduced the "new dance" The Twist to the country with a whole stage full of people dancing the Twist and Sammy Davis, Jr. met the Tiller Girls in 1961. Other star guests included: Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, Petula Clark, the Seekers, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Italian mouse puppet Topo Gigio came back a number of times.

Beatles' publicist Tony Barrow said that after the Beatles first appearance on the show in 13 October 1963, Beatlemania took off in the UK.

The show always ended using the huge revolving stage where the Tiller Girls, the compere and that nights guests stood on it as it slowly turned around to the familiar end tune of the show.

Perhaps the most famous episode took place during a strike by the British acting union Equity, who refused to allow its performers to appear that week. Exempt from this, Bruce Forsyth and comedian Norman Wisdom performed the entire show themselves, improvising wildly to the delight of the audience.

In 1967, TV mogul Lord Grade axed the show. The reasons for this remain obscure, but he was first to admit that this and axing the soap opera Emergency Ward 10 at the same time, were the two biggest mistakes he made.[citation needed]

During the early 70s revival, which went out live, two episodes were pulled mid-broadcast due, apparently to a reported bomb scare.


The format was revived in 2000 as Tonight at the London Palladium, fronted by Bruce Forsyth, but was not a ratings success.

On 29 August 2010, Gareth Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium was performed by the staff of the theatre as a one-off commemorative show for the centenary of the Palladium.[2]

2014-15 revival[edit]

A further revival in 2014, called Sunday Night at the Palladium began airing on ITV from 14 September 2014. The series aired for six episodes. On 19 October 2014, it was announced that the show had been recommissioned for a second revived series. This will begin airing on 29 March 2015 for five episodes.[3]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 14 September 2014 19 October 2014 6
2 5 April 2015 3 May 2015 5
Guest presenters



  • 5 April: Bradley Walsh[5]
  • 12 April: TBC
  • 19 April: TBC
  • 26 April: TBC
  • 3 May: TBC

Archive status[edit]

Very few episodes of this programme have survived; the rest were unrecorded, destroyed by ATV or deteriorated to the point where they were no longer watchable.[6][7]