6th December, 2016
HRH Prince of Wales
HRH Duchess of Cornwall
Executive Producers, Royal Variety Charity: Laurie Mansfield & Giles Cooper
Creative Director, ITV Studios: Lee Connolly
Director, ITV Studios: Julia Knowles
Executive Producer, ITV Studios: Fiona Clark
Senior Producer, ITV Studios: Colin Farquhar
The Royal Variety Performance 2016 was staged at the Hammersmith Apollo for only the second time in its history, the first being in 2002.
Originally built as a cinema in 1932, this iconic venue was converted to a live performance venue in the 1960s and hosted numerous legends of music and comedy. In 2015, this 3,300 capacity theatre benefited from a multi-million pound investment; seeing its decor returned to its 1932 glory.
However, the night proved challenging with the venue's limited backstage facilities for artist dressing rooms and a limited depth of stage meaning that 'behind the cloth' set changes proved a challenge!
It was also a difficult year in terms of last minute cancelations from a few artists such as Sheridan Smith, whose father had passed away a few days prior and One Republic, who were deemed too unwell to fly, due to food poisoning. However, at the last minute Lady Gaga joined the bill, and for many stole the show with an amazing orchestral rendition of One Million Reasons.
Other highlights included amazing vocal performances from Emile Sande and Amber Riley, hilarious comic routines from host David Walliams and stand-out performances from both Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow's The Girls.
One further highlight was Cirque Du Soleil's Beatles' Love performance, where a loan dancer performed to an original demo recording of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The demo was accompanied by a specially commissioned string accompaniment, composed by Beatles' producer, Sir George Martin shortly before his death. This amazing visual performance was directed by George Martin's son, Giles Martin.
Legends of music were represented by Sting, amazingly on his Royal Variety debut, and Barry Gibb, who provided a wonderful finale.
The Royal Variety Charity hosted its official Aftershow party at Grosvenor House on Park Lane, for the first time. This proved a further challenge in providing transportation for the audience between Hammersmith and Park Lane, but all worked like clockwork on the night. Another first saw the introduction of an Aftershow brand sponsor, in the form of BMW.
David Walliams is recognised as one of the UK’s best-loved and most accomplished comedians. He first shot to fame through his work with Matt Lucas. Together they created ‘Little Britain’, which has won numerous international awards including three BAFTAs, showing in over 100 countries and ‘Little Britain Live’ selling over a million tickets worldwide. David and Matt followed ‘Little Britain’ with the hugely popular spoof airport documentary series ‘Come Fly With Me’.
Another string to his bow, David has proven himself a dramatic actor with acclaimed roles in Stephen Poliakoff’s ‘Capturing Mary’ for BBC2 and as Frankie Howerd in the biopic ‘Rather You Than Me’ for BBC4. On the West End stage David starred in Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ alongside Sir Michael Gambon and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ alongside Sheridan Smith. He has also worked on ITV’s flagship show ‘Britains Got Talent’ since 2012 and in 2015 won the National Television Award for Best TV Judge. This autumn, David returned to our screens with his hilarious sketch show ‘Walliams & Friend’ and a special Christmas version of ‘Blankety Blank’ for ITV.
Since beginning his publishing career in 2008 David has taken the children’s literary world by storm selling over 12.5 million books which have been translated into over 49 different languages. David is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK with his books achieving unprecedented critical acclaim. His books ‘Ratburger’, ‘Demon Dentist’ and ‘Awful Auntie’ have all won the National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year and other favourites, including ‘Mr Stink’, ‘Gangsta Granny’, ‘The Boy in the Dress’ and ‘Billionaire Boy’ have been adapted for television.
Having hosted the momentous 100th Royal Variety Performance in 2012, David returned to host the night's prestigious show.
Martin Fry, lead singer of ABC, has led an outstanding music career spanning more than 30 years. Since the band formed in 1980, they have performed to audiences worldwide and released multiple acclaimed studio albums. Their landmark platinum certified album ‘The Lexicon of Love’ topped the UK chart and spawned the hit singles ‘The Look of Love’, ‘Tears are not Enough’ and ‘Poison Arrow’. In 2016 ABC released a new album ‘The Lexicon Of Love II’, collaborating with Academy Award winning musician and composer Anne Dudey. ABC performed a sell-out UK tour in October/November 2016, featuring songs from their classic albums as well as their latest tracks.
British comedian and actor Alan Davies stars in the long running TV series ‘Jonathan Creek’ and ‘QI’. Having joined the comedy circuit in 1988 he was Time Out’s Best Young Comic of 1991 and toured worldwide throughout the 90s, receiving the Edinburgh Festival Critics Award for Comedy in 1994. His 1998 ‘Urban Trauma’ show sold out a West End run before transmitting on BBC1. A successful acting career continued with ITV’s ‘Bob & Rose’ for which Alan received the Best Actor award at the 2002 Monte Carlo TV Festival. His book about growing up in the 80s ‘Teenage Revolution’ became a documentary series on C4. His return to stand-up in 2011 - the successful ‘Life is Pain” tour - was released on DVD and broadcast on Dave. He toured his new show ‘Little Victories’ throughout 2014/15 in seven countries and Alan appeared in the C4 comedy ‘Damned’ and in his own chat show ‘As Yet Untitled’. He is married to children’s author Katie Davies. They have three children.
The ground-breaking Broadway musical sensation ‘Dreamgirls’ originally premiered in 1981, scooping a record six Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards. This phenomenal show made its UK premiere at the West End’s Savoy Theatre starring Glee’s Amber Riley as Effie White. The highly anticipated London production was directed and choreographed by Olivier and Tony Award-winning Casey Nicholaw. ‘Dreamgirls’ transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history, charting the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago called ‘The Dreams’, as they learn the hard lesson that show business is as tough as it is fabulous. Amber sang ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, one of the greatest musical theatre showstoppers of all time.
Directly following celebrated engagements in Paris and New York, the multi award-winning new Broadway musical ‘An American In Paris’ began performances on 4th March at London’s Dominion Theatre. This stunning reinvention of the MGM film musical (that starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron) is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and features the sublime music and classic songs of George and Ira Gershwin (including ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘’S Wonderful’).
The breathtakingly beautiful production tells the unforgettable story of Jerry Mulligan, an American GI striving to make it as a painter in a city suddenly bursting with hope and possibility. Following a chance encounter with a beautiful young dancer named Lise, the streets of Paris become the backdrop to a sensuous, modern romance of art, friendship and love in the aftermath of war.
The audience was invited to experience the breathless romance and dazzling spectacle of this triumphant, Tony® Award-winning hit musical as it burst into the West End featuring an exceptional company of 50 actors, dancers and musicians led by the original, award-winning Broadway stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope, together with Jane Asher as Madame Baurel.
Headlining the show was multiple Grammy Award winner Barry Gibb, one of the most successful songwriters and record producers of all time whose illustrious career has spanned over 50 years, during which time he’s been inducted into The Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame, The Songwriters Hall of Fame and appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to music. Barry released his new album ‘In the Now’ on 7th October 2016 and performed a song from the new album as well as one of his classic hits on the night.
Since its inception in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has become one of the world’s most famous live spectacles, pioneering a unique combination of circus and theatre with stunning visionary designs. Their shows have delighted audiences across the world, with performances in over 400 cities, more than sixty countries and across six continents. Flying in specially from Las Vegas to perform, Cirque du Soleil performed a captivating sequence from their multi Grammy Award-winning production ‘The Beatles LOVE’, marking the show’s 10 year anniversary. ‘LOVE’ is a theatrical production with music direction by Sir George Martin and Giles Martin, which combined the re-imagined music of The Beatles. ‘LOVE’ brought the poetry of the lyrics to life with a cast of world-class aerialists, acrobats and dancers against a backdrop of stunning projections and design.
Innovative dance group Diversity took the nation by storm in 2009 when they won ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. Headed by creative director, choreographer and dancer Ashley Banjo, the group have gone on to achieve major success selling half a million tickets across 6 sell out UK tours and even more on a 7th UK tour ‘Genesis’ in April 2017. As well as on the stage Diversity have countless television performances to their name including ‘Diversity Live’ and ‘Steal the Show’. Diversity have been privileged to perform at a number of prestigious events including the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games 2014, and the opening performance at ‘VE Day 70: a Party to Remember’. Inspired by their motto ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’ Diversity continue to inspire all generations; they were honoured to perform for a third time at The Royal Variety Performance and to return to the stage where their journey began.
Assembled by frontman Joe Jonas in 2015, DNCE’s all-star band consists of Cole Whitle, JinJoo and Jack Lawless. Their triple platinum debut single ‘Cake by the Ocean’ became a resounding success, reaching the Top 10 on iTunes in over 10 countries and generating over 400 million streams on Spotify worldwide. To date, the infectiously upbeat tune has sold over seven million copies. In 2016, the smash hit single was awarded the Teen Choice Music: Party Song Award. Riding the wave of their phenomenal initial buzz, the band went on to join Selena Gomez as the opening act for her Revival Tour in 2016, in support of their debut EP ‘Swaay’. They have also released their highly anticipated self-titled debut album and embarked on a tour in America. After their win for Best New Artist at 2016’s MTV Video Music Awards and Best Push Artist at the EMA’s, DNCE joined us with their breakthrough single ‘Cake by the Ocean’.
International superstar Emeli Sandé rose to prominence in 2009 after featuring on Chipmunk’s record ‘Diamond Rings’. Since then she has been unstoppable, releasing her first solo single ‘Heaven’ in 2011 and her debut album ‘Our Version of Events’ in 2012. The landmark album went on to become the biggest UK selling album of the year, spending ten weeks at number one and with over 4.7 million copies sold to date. The album broke the UK chart record for most consecutive weeks inside the Top 10 by any debut album, beating the 50 year record previously held by The Beatles. Emeli has sold 7.3 million songs including hit tracks ‘Clown’, ‘Read All About It’ and ‘Next To Me’. With a plethora of awards to her name - including three Brits and two Ivor Novello Awards - in 2012 she wowed the nation with her stunning performances at the Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. In November 2016 Emeli released her second studio album ‘Long Live the Angels’ featuring the lead single ‘Hurts’. The night marked her debut appearance on The Royal Variety Performance.
‘The Girls’, written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, is a West End musical based on the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who came together in the face of tragedy. The ‘Calendar Girls’ managed to convince the Women’s Institute to appear in a nude calendar to raise money for a sofa in their hospital’s visitors’ room, and have, to date, raised several million pounds for Leukaemia Research. On the night Gary performed ‘Dare’ with the original ladies, the actresses who play them, and the Women’s Institute choir, prior to the musical’s opening at the Phoenix Theatre in February 2017. Gary Barlow came under the worldwide spotlight in the 1990s as a member of Take That and later as a solo artist. He is widely considered one of the country’s most accomplished singer-songwriters with six Ivor Novello Awards under his belt. Gary has sold over 50 million with 15 No.1 singles, nine No.1 albums and 26 top ten hits to his name.
Joe Lycett burst onto the comedy scene in 2008 when he won the Chortle Student Comedian of the Year Award. In 2012, his debut solo show ‘Some Lycett Hot’ sold out its entire Edinburgh Fringe run, securing Joe a Foster’s Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination in the process. Joe has performed stand-up on BBC1’s ‘Live At The Apollo’ and ITV’s ‘Sunday Night At The Palladium’ and has regularly featured on panel shows including BBC1’s ‘Would I Lie To You?’ and Channel 4’s ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown’. He has hosted BBC Radio 4’s ‘It’s Now What You Know’ and in May 2016 published his first book, ‘Parnsips, Buttered’, a selection of correspondence tackling the frustrations, injustices and ridiculousness of modern day life.
Lady Gaga’s debut album The Fame (2008) was a critical and commercial success that produced international chart-topping singles such as "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), was met with a similar reception and "Bad Romance", "Telephone", and "Alejandro" were released, becoming successful singles. Her second full-length album Born This Way was released in 2011, topping the charts in more than 20 countries, including the United States, where it sold over one million copies in its first week. The album produced the number-one single "Born This Way". Her third album Artpop, released in 2013, topped the US charts and included the successful single "Applause". In 2014, Gaga released a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett titled Cheek to Cheek, which became her third consecutive number one in the United States. For her work in the television series American Horror Story: Hotel, Gaga won a Golden Globe Award in 2016. With her fifth studio album Joanne (2016), she became the first woman to have four US number one albums in the 2010s. In February 2017, Gaga headlined the Super Bowl LI halftime show which had a total audience of over 150 million across various platforms worldwide, making it the most viewed musical event in history.
With global album and single sales of 27 million and 146 million respectively, as of January 2016, she is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Her achievements include twelve Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, and six Grammy Awards. She is also the first artist to win the Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award. Other accolades include a Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (2011), regular appearances on Billboard's Artists of the Year lists and Forbes's power and earnings rankings. In 2013, Gaga finished second on Time's readers' poll of the most influential people of the past ten years, while in 2015, she was named Billboard's Woman of the Year. She is known for her philanthropic work and social activism, including LGBT rights and her own non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, which focuses on promoting youth empowerment and combating bullying.
LCpl Richard Jones, who serves with The Household Cavalry, left the nation spellbound when he won the tenth series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ in 2016, becoming the first ever magician to win. His impressive finale performance moved the audience to tears as he used a deck of cards to narrate the touching story of his inspiration Fergus Anckorn; a Second World War veteran who was captured yet managed to keep himself and other prisoners alive by performing magic tricks in exchange for food. The finale featured incredible slight of hand and culminated in the surprise appearance of Mr Anckorn. Noted for captivating performances such as this, Richard was invited to join the smash hit West End Show ‘Impossible’ in the summer of 2016, in which he appeared alongside some of the world’s greatest illusionists and magicians.
Rob’s cheeky chappy persona saw him winning fans and starring on numerous television shows. Recent appearances include BBC1’s ‘Michael McIntyre’s Big Show’, ‘Would I Lie To You?’, ‘Room 101’, Channel 4’s ‘8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown’, BBC2’s ‘Mock The Week’, and ITV’s ‘Play To The Whistle’. He is also the host of Dave’s podcast ‘The Magic Sponge’ as well as host of Absolute Radio’s hit show ‘Rock n Roll Football’. His energetic delivery and cheeky banter has firmly established him as one of the country’s most popular comedians. He was recently announced alongside Aisling Bea as the new team captain for Channel 4’s popular topical comedy panel show ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’. In addition, Rob has achieved outstanding success with his live performances. His ‘Mouth Of The South’ tour continued around the UK until April 2017, culminating in one night at the Hammersmith Apollo.
With over 75 million record sales worldwide, Robbie Williams is one of the bestselling and most iconic British artists of all time. His eight number one UK albums, alongside a plethora of record-breaking awards, including one for the fastest ever ticket sales in one day, highlight his enormous success as both a live performer and recording artist. This year, Robbie was the recipient of the prestigious Brits Icon Award; an accolade bestowed to artists whose work has made a lasting impact on the nation’s culture. Other than Robbie, only Sir Elton John and David Bowie have received this award.
Already the most awarded Brits winner in history, this brought his tally of Brits to 18. Prior to the performance, Robbie released his first album in three years entitled ‘The Heavy Entertainment Show’. The album features collaborations with Rufus Wainwright, Ed Sheeran, The Killers and John Grant.
Composer, singer, actor, author, and activist – Sting was born in Newcastle before moving to London in 1977 to form The Police with Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. The band released five studio albums, earned six Grammy Awards and two Brits, and was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
Since 1989, Sting has released twelve solo albums and received an additional ten Grammy Awards, two Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and three Oscar nominations. Also a member of The Songwriters Hall of Fame, he received the Kennedy Center Honors in December of 2014. Throughout his career, he has sold close to 100 million albums from his combined work with The Police and as a solo artist. In 2015, Sting received a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score for his Broadway musical, ‘The Last Ship’.
Sting has appeared in more than fifteen films and authored two books, including best-selling memoir, ‘Broken Music’. Along with wife Trudie Styler, Sting founded the Rainforest Fund in 1989 to protect both the world’s rainforests and the indigenous people living there.
Sting’s new album ‘57th & 9th‘ was released in November 2016.
Tom Fletcher is one quarter of British pop band McFly. The group are undoubtedly one of the most significant pop groups of the past 12 years. During this time, their five studio albums have racked up cumulative sales of over 10 million, seven UK No.1 singles, five top 10 albums and numerous sell out tours. Tom is also one half of the duo behind the bestselling ‘Dinosaur That Pooped’ series, published by Penguin. He has released his first children’s novel ‘The Christmasaurus’, which has been developed into a feature length animated movie musical.