Monday, 22 February 2010

1950s Grace, Splendour and Mirth in the Golden Days of Variety - Full Episode

Sunday Night at the London Palladium 13-4-58 Part1

"Sunday Night at the London Palladium" was the ratings powerhouse for ITV in the 1950s and 60s, which can be compared of the same ilk as modern ventures like "X-Factor" and "Strictly Come Dancing", but this wasn't some format manipulated or tampered with to garner viewer's votes! This was true variety, not just singing and dancing, but comedians, puppeteers and ventriloquists. This glitzy extravanganza was for ITV produced by regional midlands super-outfit ATV. the programme is best remembered for song, dance and gag man Bruce Forsyth in his early days (early days?) learning his craft and also hosting the show on occasions. The show reached a peak audience of an astonishing 20 million viewers in 1960, shown live.

The link above is the 1st part of the whole show, and this is an ashtonishing and rare upload to have a 1950s show in it's full entirety on Youtube. Also add to that, only 5 episodes of the show's original run survived the "achive wipeout", a common feature in the 1950s. There seems to be a couple more full episodes of the show from the 60s here too.

The show was headlined and presented by Val Parnell (Valentine Parnell) from 1956 to 1965. He was also a big figure in the world of theatre, and is thought to have introduced Julie Andrews (singing star of "Sound of Music" film)into acting fame. He was the managing director of ATV at the same time.

This episode does not star Bruce Forsyth, who would later be a pillar for the show's success. It does feature American Jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, The Tiller Girls, comedian Tommy Trinder American guitarist and singer Marvin Rainwater, American comedian Dick Shawn and er..string pig puppet singing sensations Pinky and Perky! Singing an Everley Brothers covers of "Bye Bye Love". Along with a host of other puppet animals featuring an Elvis Presley singing cat puppet guitar strummer!

Tommy Trinder also presents the "Beat The Clock" gameshow section of the show. This was later Forsyth's baby too. The format of the gameshow was simple, complete a given task in under 60 seconds and hence, you have beaten the clock! It was originally an American show that ran solo from 1950 and enjoyed a very long run over there. This ran the whole length of the famous variety show, which eventually ended in 1967. The show was asked by TV chief at the the time, Lord Grade, which he later regretted.

Both "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" and "Beat The Clock" enjoyed 80s revivals individually, the former being renamed a few times from "Live at the Palladium" to "Live At Her Majesty's". This lasted for most of the 80s 1982 -1988. The latter in 1987 presented by radio DJ and "Top of the Pops" presenter Mike Smith, for a less impressive run.

Variety died out for a while by the late-80s and especially well into the 90s and 2000s, after another revivial spooned by Bruce Forsyth flopped. However, you could say it's back in a big way now, depending on who you talk to, as you now have "Britain's Got Talent", which suppoesedly cater for all the styles of entertainment you used to see, but not as innocent in it's previous form, taking a winner-takes-all-mentality. I wonder if a plate-spinner will ever win "BGT"?

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