when i was a kid, there were certain T.V. events we did collectively as a family
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
2. FA Cup Finals
3. Mohammed Ali (or Cassius Clay as he was called at the time) Boxing matches
4. Miss World ( i know, it seems bizzare doesn’t it)
5. Roots (with Kunta Kinte, Kissy Chicken George and family)
6. Big World Cup Qualifying match (so as me Dad could laugh when England lost)
6. Sunday Night at the London Palladium –
We Loved Sunday Night at the London Palladium – it was an institution like the Royal Variety performance.
Walter Gibbons, an early moving pictures manager, built the Palladium in 1910 to compete with the London Hippodrome and London Coliseum. But it wasn’t until post war time that the likes of Bob Hope, Liza Manelli, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis Junior were top of the bill.
Between 55 and 67 Tommy Trinder and later Bruce Forsyth presented Sunday Night at the London Palladium that was beamed to a nation of 50 million with only 2 TV channels – Imagine. And the story goes that tommy was “distracted” by other liquidy things and cos the guy Lew Grades guys went to see didn’t turn up, Brucey was there and Brucey got the gig
Johnny Cash recorded a live album there and so did Marvin Gaye and there’s a great story about elvis being offered $28k in 1970 to play there, to which tom parker (elvis’s manager) replied “thats fine for me but how much for Elvis”
In the 1980’s it was famed for “Live from the Palladium” with Jimmy Tarbuck – but we won’t go into that. But another scouser, John Lennon famously delivered the line “For our last number I’d like to ask your help: Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewellery …” during a royal variety performance in 1963.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been on there, The King And I has been on there, even Andrew Lloyd Weber has put on The Sound of Music on there. The point i’m trying to make is that it is special. Very Special.
And tonight is even more special because tonight is Sunday Night at the London Palladium with John Cooper Clarke and Friends and boy has johnny got some friends. The amazing I am Kloot are playing, Thea Gilmour is playing, Barry Cryer is playing, John Shuttleworth is playing as is the hilarious and dark Simon Day is performing and one of my heroes, Mark Thomas plus a host of top notch poets such as Luke Wright, Salena Godden, Tim Wells……..poets i said and yes, the London Palladium. Also, something i’m really looking forward to is listening to Mr Johnny Green cos he is ace. He was the tour manager with the Clash for years, wrote the best book about the clash ever and now writes for a top cycling magazines and most importantly for me, he’s Johnny Clarkes tour manager, give me great guidance on the road and is great to spend time with.
Tonight is a special night for a number of reasons but i believe it is important for poetry because never before has poetry headlined at the Palladium and who better to do it than the amazing John Cooper Clarke and Friends………………………….oh and i’ll be reading a poem or two as well.