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The London Palladium was originally a bazaar with an aviary, then a circus and an ice skating rink but none were ever as successful as the theatre. The Palladium ended up specialising as a variety venue, and it was the best in town as its long list of performers reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the entertainment industry in the last century. From escape artist Houdini, to samba singer Carmen Miranda, to physical comedians Laurel and Hardy, the Palladium was never short on stars.
Sunday Night at the London Palladium became a veritable TV hit from the 1950s, turning host Bruce Forsyth into a star. The theatre has seen a consistent run of smash-hit musicals including The King and I, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The Palladium holds 2,298 people.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which ran from 2002 to 2005, was the theatre’s longest-running production to date – and the second most expensive, costing £6.2 million (it comes second only to The Lord of the Rings in 2007, which cost a shocking £12 million!).
Elvis Presley was offered to perform at the London Palladium in 1970 for $28,000 (now worth over $500,000) but his manager turned it down for being too little. It would have been the only time Elvis performed outside North America.
The London Palladium has been used for the Royal Variety Performance more than any other, as well as hosting BAFTA awards ceremonies twice.