10th November, 1969
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
His Royal Highness The Duke Of Edinburgh K.G., K.T.
Executive Producer: Bernard Delfont
Musical Director: Russell Wright
Producer: Robert Nesbitt
If the 1969 Royal Variety Performance could be described as a 'drag' it was only because Danny La Rue stole the show at the Palladium! His act was on the big successes of the night, but the Queen and Prince Philip had much else to enjoy besides. Making his debut was Ronnie Corbett and there was a glittering performance from ventriloquist Shari Lewis with 'Lamb Chop' her dummy.
The audience were thrilled with the appearance of Ginger Rogers and other members of the cast from Mame, and later to the breathtaking voice of French singer Mireille Mathieu.
Des O'Connor, who appeared first with the Palladium Girls, 'warned' the audience that it was going to be a fast show with no compere - and so it proved to be, with act after talented act flashing before their eyes. To cap it all off was the powerful singing of Tom Jones.
Ronnie Corbett was sporting a black eye when he appeared before the Queen and it was not a joke! The accident happened during a car crash after he was driven home after a night out. He recalled the incident with the precision of a rally driver, "I was thrown against the fascia of the car. The rim of my glasses hit me under my right eye." However, Ronnie had the good luck to be nursed by Danny La Rue, who bathed the eye in champagne.
The advent of colour television posed new problems for the show, that were to be solved by somewhat unusual methods. Thelma Taylor was the vital component who helped ITV get the colour balance exactly right. Ms Taylor, a dancer and singer by profession, wore a green dress, pink stole and white boots. If that didn't;t help the newfangled colour cameras nothing would!
A big hit of the evening was Danny La Rue. His act was well received, especially his impersonations of Margot Fonteyn and Sandie Shaw. Her Majesty The Queen told them after the show, "My gosh, your costume changes were fantastic. I only wish I could dress as quickly as you."
The hectic schedules of leading international artists caused headaches for Executive Producer, Robert Nesbitt again in 1969 when Herb Alpert and his band were delayed by fog in Vienna and weren't able to arrive at the Palladium until after the run-through had ended. With a gruelling day already completed and the show only a couple of hours away, the producer then had to set about checking technical details like sound and lighting, not to mention making the ever cheerful Mr Alpert and his colleagues feel welcome and truly part of the performance. As Robert Nesbitt well remembers, "We never saw them in the context of the show until the actual performance!"
DES O'CONNOR - Host
Danny La Rue
Ginger Rogers, Barry Kent, Sheila Keith and the cast of Mama
Buddy Rich & his Orchestra
Scene De Ballet
Herb Alpert And His Tijuana Brass
Johnnie Spence And His Orchestra
Mike Sammes' Singers