Unmissable: What once was an institution is now a bit of a palaver - Sunday Night at the Palladium

The Rolling Stones at the Gaumont Theatre, Norwich in April 1964

The Rolling Stones at the Gaumont Theatre, Norwich in April 1964 - Credit: EDP Library

Once upon a time Sunday Night at the Palladium was a national institution, one of the most-watched programmes on television.

It’s part of British TV history and generations of people will be able to reel off the list of hosts, including Tommy Trinder, Bruce Forsyth, Don Arrol, Norman Vaughan and Jimmy Tarbuck.

Part of a golden age of broadcasting (as I am reliably informed) it was deemed the only way to end the weekend for millions of families every week.

One of ITV’s early successes, the show has been revived by the broadcaster’s bigwigs, no doubt after they saw how popular the likes of Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor have proved in the past decade.

Both are on the decline, however, and it seems that maybe we really have scraped the barrel of those desperate folk who are willing to make a complete berk of themselves.


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Just from watching BGT in the last couple of series it’s been clear that the producers have been “inviting” already-established acts on to give the show a bit of credibility, and more and more acts from abroad seem to be appearing. It’s not exactly doing what it says on the tin – the walk-up auditionee is becoming a thing of the past for these shows.

There are reports that Peter Kay pulled out from hosting the show after it failed to attract big enough star names to perform. The stories go that after ABBA declined to reform at the behest of ITV (you can hardly blame them) and the Stones refused to take to the stage, as they had done back in the ’60s, Kay walked away from the £100,000 job (not a difficult decision when you have a fortune estimated at around £40million).

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A Stones spokesman said: “We did that show in the ’60s – doing it again would be like going back to an old lover.”

A telling response.

So what have we got tomorrow night, then, when the show returns? Those expecting an unrivalled showcase of international talent, anchored by a legendary compere with great wit and charm, might need to take a seat.

ITV2 stalwart Stephen Mulhern (the baby-faced 37-year-old former magician and presenter of spin-offs such as Britain’s Got More Talent) will be introducing Bryan Adams, X Factor girl group Little Mix and comic Alan Davies.

Hardly Judy Garland, Tommy Cooper or Bob Hope, is it?

No doubt the family-friendly essence of the show will remain intact. I can’t see Neil Diamond or Sarah Millican upsetting too many grannies, but does the format still have a place in 2014? Not judging by the first show’s line-up, but we’ll have to see as the series continues.

Sunday Night at the Palladium is on ITV1 tomorrow at 7pm.

n What do you think? Send me an email to elliot.furniss@archant.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @Elliot_Furniss

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