The Royal Variety Performance is back!

Tuesday: The Royal Variety Performance 2020; (ITV, 8pm)
Host Jason Manford performing at the Royal Variety Performance in the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens ComplexHost Jason Manford performing at the Royal Variety Performance in the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex
Host Jason Manford performing at the Royal Variety Performance in the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex

As you get older, it often feels as if the years pass by more quickly.

Or, if you’re a showbusiness type, then the next Royal Variety Performance seems to come around faster than ever before.

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Thank goodness, then, that it always features top guests guaranteed to keep us coming back for more. Okay, so some of them can be a bit on the cheesy side, and there have been accusations in the past that the show is no longer relevant to modern audiences, but try telling that to the millions who tune in to see it on TV.

If variety happens to be the spice of your life, then this most spectacular of extravaganzas is likely to pep up a cold Tuesday night’s viewing no end with two hours of the stuff of which showbiz legends are made.

While the stars enjoy their moment of glory, the reasons why the show exists and the charity it raises money for rarely get a mention, so let’s put that right – it’s the Royal Variety Charity that benefits, and they deserve as much of a round of applause as the stars we’ll be watching on the night.

“The Royal Variety Performance has in recent years gone from strength to strength, consistently attracting the biggest stars from all over the world,” says the charity’s chairman, Giles Cooper. “Our social media channels are testament to the Royal Variety Show’s massive resurgence in popularity, demonstrating the huge appetite that clearly exists in the UK and around the world for this annual, Great British institution.”

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This year, perhaps more than ever, we need something to cheer us all up as we continue to feel the impact of coronavirus. Cooper, incidentally, is doing his bit, having volunteered to take part in the UK’s vaccine trials.

Sadly the pandemic means there have had to be some alterations to the organisation of the event itself but, in the best traditions of the entertainment industry, the show must go on.

Jason Manford is our host at a socially distanced Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex.

“After appearing at the Royal Variety Performance three times since 2009, it is an honour and a privilege to be hosting the show this year,” said Manford, shortly before it was filmed on November 29. “It’s been a hugely difficult year for everybody, so I hope that for a couple of hours on a cold Winter’s night in Blackpool, we can take people’s minds off things and do what us Brits do best; have a laugh.”

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Heading the bill is none other than Captain Sir Tom Moore – which is incredible when you consider that nobody outside of his friends and family had heard of him this time last year. He’ll be joining in remotely from his home, accompanying Michael Ball and the NHS choir in a rendition of their chart-topping version of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Britain’s Got Talent winner Jon Courtenay will feature, while other, perhaps more famous performers on the bill include Gary Barlow, Sheridan Smith, Melanie C, Stephen Mulhern and Jo Caulfield.

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