21st November, 1988
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
HRH Princess Margaret
Musical Director: Ronnie Hazlehurst:
Producer: Michael Hurll for BBC Television:
Perhaps as never before, television stars and television series had a massive impact on the content of the 1988 show at the Palladium, held before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.
The cast of the Australian soap Neighbours appeared, as did the cast of BBC's Bread and the stars from the American show the Golden Girls.
But, for many, the big hits of the evening were the more traditional acts such as stand-up comic Jackie Mason, singer pianist Michael Feinstein and the comedy duo of Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones as scenery movers. Not only was the show counted a success it also, unlike previous performances, ran to time.
As Chairman of the EABF, Roy Hudd was invited this year to open the show for the television audience, setting the scene in the foyer of the Palladium as the audience were arriving. This captured the excitement and anticipation of the occasion perfectly and offered Roy an ideal opportunity to explain the work of the charity and the long history of its annual fundraiser, the Royal Variety Performance. The only difficulty was finding a suitably quiet corner to record this and Roy eventually ended up positioned outside a door marked 'Gentlemen.' It required five takes before they managed to shoot him without the unscripted appearance of one of several men innocently coming out while he modestly 'adjusted his dress!'
The Chong Qing acrobatic troupe from China were one of the distinctive features on the bill. They performed quite impossible feats flying through hoops and climbing poles with singular aplomb and dexterity. "Unbelievable but wonderful' commented The Stage.
The tradition and longevity of the 'royal show' were joked about by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were especially amused when they were obliquely referred to: "The Royal Variety has been going since 34 BC...it was first put on for Queen Boadicea, but she couldn't get there - so her mother and sister went instead."
Rumours that Kylie Minogue did not get on with her former colleagues were dispelled by her warm introduction to them and Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller appeared in a song and dance routine from their show Sugar Babies.
The close of the performance was certainly unusual, ending as it did with a spectacular circus finale hosted by Paul Daniels, with confetti and sparkling gold dust raining down on the stalls and balloons cascading from the roof. As one commentator remarked, "scenes like this are commonplace on polital rallies in the USA, but it was the first time that the audience at a Royal Variety Performance had seen anything quite like it."
RONNIE CORBETT - Host
BRUCE FORSYTH - Host
Mickey Rooney & Ann Miller
The Chong Qing Troupe
The Cast of Neighbours
Mel Smith & Griff Rhys Jones
The Cast of Bread
The Golden Girls
21st November, 1988
The Palladium Theatre, London