Essential Architecture-  London

The Palladium


Frank Matcham


the West End


c. 1890







The London Palladium is one of the most famous of London's West End theatres. Built by Frank Matcham, a famous theatrical architect who designed two famous London theatres: the London Palladium and the London Coliseum. The annual Royal Variety Performance, the most prestigious Variety event of all, is staged at the Palladium.

It is also one of London's largest theatres, boasting 2,286 seats.

In the 1950s and 60s it was the setting for the top-rated ITV variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium which was broadcast live every week and hosted first by Tommy Trinder, then by Bruce Forsyth. The programme was made by ATV, which was owned by the famous theatrical impresario Lew Grade. Production was by Val Parnell.

In January 1973, glam rock band Slade played a gig in the theatre which resulted in the venue's balcony nearly collapsing. In 1977, Marvin Gaye recorded his live concert on a Double LP Entitled Marvin Gaye Live at the London Palladium in which is considered Gaye at his finest while recording a live album, it also included his number one hit "Got to Give It Up".

In the late 1980s the venue was once again the setting for the popular ITV1 variety show, Live from the Palladium, compered by Jimmy Tarbuck.

During this time, the theatre was under the ownership of the Stall Moss Theatres Group.

In 2000, ownership of the theatre changed once again when it was acquired by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. This was followed by a revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I starring Elaine Paige.

In 2002, the famous (but outdated) revolving stage was removed to make way for more modern technology.

From 2002 to 4 September 2005, the Palladium played host to a theatrical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Throughout its three and a half year run at the venue, the production starred many celebrities including Michael Ball, Richard O'Brien, Russ Abbott, Brian Blessed, Brian Conley, Gary Wilmot, Paul O'Grady, Derek Griffiths, Stephen Gately, Wayne Sleep, Lionel Blair and the final cast on Jason Donovan, Jo Gibb, Christopher Biggins, Louise Gold, Tony Adams and Alvin Stardust as the Childcatcher. The production also played a successful run at Broadway's Hilton Theatre and is now on a massive UK national tour to Sunderland, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Southampton and Edinburgh.

For Christmas 2005-6, the venue played host to Bill Kenwright's production of Scrooge - The Musical which closed on 14 January 2006. The show starred Tommy Steele who returned once again to the Palladium. Since February 2006, the theatre has played host to a new musical production entitled Sinatra At The London Palladium, which features a live band, large screen projections and dancers performing Frank Sinatra's greatest hits.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian's new production of The Sound of Music will open at the theatre in November 2006.

Appearing on Heavy Weather, along with Joe Zawinul's Birdland, is Wayne Shorter's composition "Palladium" (which is, of course, a tribute to the London Palladium), the lesser known of the two Weather Report songs about music venues.