London Palladium, London
The London Palladium, most famous for its televised variety shows, is a superb venue which can afford to host the biggest musicals with the most eye-popping special effects, elaborate sets and largest audiences to boot. The exquisite interior won’t disappoint architecture lovers either.
Nearest Tube Station:
Central, Bakerloo, Victoria
Directions From Tube:
(2mins) Exit 8 from the tube goes out onto Argyll Street (opposite the large Topshop). The theatre is 100 metres down the road.
(Regent Street) 3, 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 94, 139, 453, C2; (Oxford Street) 7, 8, 10, 25, 55, 73, 98, 390
Night Bus Numbers:
(Regent Street) 6, 12, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453, C2, N3, N13, N15, N18, N109, N136; (Oxford Street) 7, 10, 25, 390, N7, N8, N55, N73, N98, N207
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
8 Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TF
The site of the London Palladium was designed to attract the masses from day one. Originally a bazaar with an aviary, then a circus and finally an ice skating rink (made with real ice, a rarity in the 19th century), none were ever as successful as the renowned London Palladium.
Starting out as a receiving house in 1910 for all types of entertainment, the London 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. Particularly in the late 1940s, manager Val Parnell managed to book on the bill the likes of Judy Garland, the Marx brothers and Frank Sinatra for his specially crafted shows, drawing in massive crowds.
Still, the Palladium’s British roots were not neglected – Sunday Night at the London Palladium became a veritable TV hit from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, turning host Bruce Forsyth into a star. Yet it was only in the late ‘60s when the London Palladium’s potential to be a large-scale musical venue was realised, and this picked up steam with a consistent run of smash-hit musicals including The King and I (twice), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which holds the record for the London Palladium’s longest-running show at 1,414 performances). And with back to back big-budget musicals The Sound of Music, Sister Act and the expanded stage version of The Wizard of Oz in the last few years, it’s proven that it’s still going strong even after its 100th birthday.
The Palladium holds a whopping 2298 people, making it the second biggest musical venue in the West End – beaten by the Apollo Victoria by only 15 seats.
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!).
The production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang provided an opportunity to remove the famous revolving stage to make way for technology allowing the car to appear as if it were flying.
When Tommy Steele headlined the 2005 production of Scrooge, he became the performer to headline more productions at the London Palladium than any other star – and he has a plaque to commemorate it by one of the bars.
Elvis Presley was offered to perform at the London Palladium in 1970 for $28,000 ($162,000 today), but his manager turned it down for being too little. It would have been the only time Elvis performed outside North America.
The King and I has been staged at the London Palladium twice – the first time with Yul Brynner in a career-defining role; the second time with Elaine Paige and Jason Lee, earning £7 million in box office receipts before it had even opened.
The London Palladium has been used for the Royal Variety Performance more than any other (36 times!), as well as hosting BAFTA awards ceremonies twice.
Make the most of your trip on the town with a delicious meal before the show. Check out our top recommendations below. All these restaurants are just a stone’s throw away from your theatre. So you can relax before enjoying a slice of world class entertainment. Simply add your theatre tickets to your basket and select the restaurant of your choice.