15th November, 1976
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Executive Producer: Lord Delfont KBE
Musical Director: Ronnie Hazelhurst
Producer: Robert Nesbitt
On paper the 1976 Royal Variety Performance at the Palladium looked to have one of the smallest cast lists for a long time. But what it lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality in a talented line-up.
In the first-ever live TV broadcast of the show, Los Reales Del Paraguay with Latin-American music and the Dance Theatre of Harlem provided ideal visual spectacles. Humour came from Tom O'Connor and the by now established Royal Variety performer Mike Yarwood.
French singer Gilbert Becaud, who had missed an earlier show, at last had his chance to show the Queen Mother what he could do. And, rounding off a successful night, was the ever-popular singer from Tiger Bay, Shirley Bassey.
The Queen Mother seemed to be mesmerized by the hypnotic eyes of Nookie Bear. "The Queen Mother spoke with me for a long time," said the ventriloquist Roger de Courcey, "and kept referring to the eyes of Nookie, my bear. She was quite fascinated by them."
The prospect of broadcasting the Royal Variety Performance live was intriguing. To some there was the tantalizing possibility of seeing how any hitches that would have been edited out of the shows in previous years were really dealt with. Others were satisfied with simply enjoying the night's entertainment at the same time as the theatre audience. One viewer, Mrs Queenie Perkins, quoted in the Daily Mirror the following morning, spoke for millions when she said, "It was certainly worth watching. You look at the show differently when you know it hasn't been pre-recorded. It becomes that much more enjoyable."
MAX BYGRAVES - Host
Max Bygraves in "Back In My Childhood Days" with The Lionel Blair Dancers
Dance Theatre Of Harlem
Los Reales Del Paraguay
Roger De Courcey
Lena Zavaroni with the Nigel Lythgoe Dancers
15th November, 1976
The Palladium Theatre, London