2011, Manchester Lowry

5th December, 2011


Executive Producers, EABF:                          Laurie Mansfield & Giles Cooper  

Controller of Entertainment, ITV Studios:     John Kaye Cooper

Executive Producers, ITV Studios:                  Lee Connolly & Fiona Clark

Producer, ITV Studios: Christian Fletcher

Director, ITV Studios:  Paul Kirrage

The 2011 Royal Variety Performance was special for a number of reasons. Firstly, it marked the beginning of a new ten year broadcasting deal with ITV Studios - negotiated the previous year by EABF Life-President Laurie Mansfield. It was also the first year with newly elected Chairman Giles Cooper at the helm.

2011 was also the first time that The Princess Royal, Princess Anne had been the primary Royal Variety guest of honour since 1968 (the year of Giles Cooper's birth!) and she was warmly welcomed with her husband Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.

The show was staged at the relatively new Lowry Theatre in the newly built 'BBC Media City' in Salford, Manchester and provided a modern, high-tech setting for this year's Royal Variety.

Host, Peter Kay presented a truly memorable night of variety which began with one of the most spectacular openings the show has ever seen - in what was titled the Royal Variety Drumming Ensemble. The  trumpeters of the Heavy Calvary and Cambrian Band began with Hayley Westenra joining them to sing the National Anthem, followed by a  drumming ensemble featuring the cast of Stomp, the Royal Marines Corps of Drums, Kodo, The DHOL Foundation and 3RUN!

Pop music came from the fantastic Pixie Lott and Cee Lo Green, but the show will be remembered for featuring two stunning female vocal performances. The first delivered by Leona Lewis, with a cover version of 'Run' by Snow Patrol - later to become a massive hit for the X-Factor winner.

Then, Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber himself introduced a very special performance of Phantom Of The Opera to celebrate its 25 years in the West-End, where Nicole Scherzinger, playing the role of Christine, was joined by four previous male leads of the legendary musical, John-Owen-Jones, Ramin Karimloo, Earl Carpenter and Simon Bowman. Her performance was breathtaking.

See the performances of Leona Lewis and Nicole Scherzinger in our video archive below.

As if Peter Kay's hilarious antics weren't enough, further comedy came from Jason Manford, Omid Djalili, Greg Davies and Tim Minchin, but one of the further highlights of the show was from another West-End musical, Singing In The Rain...

The stage of the Lowry was transformed to allow real water to fall as rain for Jonathan Church's production of Singing In The Rain and provided one of the most memorable performance in Royal Variety history, with the amazing Adam Cooper as lead.

It was the most incredible production feat (in the middle of a 'run as live' variety show), to produce water falling as 'real rain' with the cast of dancers splashing in puddles! It seemed as if the production team had miraculously pulled it off, to the delight of the audience. That was until the break for the interval, when the Singing In The Rain stage set had to be quickly cleared behind the curtains.

Unfortunately, one of the Lowry's theatre staff knocked over a section of the set, cutting off all of ITV's radio communications and VT connections! The result was a panicked team of technicians and production staff having to re-wire communications frantically through the interval and causing a 45mins delay. However, Peter Kay came to the show's rescue showing his supremacy as a top-flight comedian, with some superb ad-libbing throughout.

In the second half, the audience, unperplexed by the delay, were treated to the wonderful sounds of classical crossover quartet Il Divo, before the arrival of Royal Variety favourite and music legend Barry Manilow.

Manilow however was not without his technical problems - whilst doing a duet of Mandy with his former, younger-self (presented on a screen), syncing issues caused him to request to re-perform the song. The producers quickly agreed and so for the first time in Royal Variety history, an artist was allowed to re-record his performance to provide a better production for TV. The audience were delighted by the unexpected events throughout the show and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne clearly enjoyed the uniqueness of the whole occasion!

The show concluded with a terrific performance by American legend Tony Bennett, after which a superb finale with the whole cast ended a truly amazing night. Albeit an eventful one!


Host and Performers


Peter Kay’s rise in the world of comedy has been phenomenal and is now well regarded as one of Britain’s best loved comedians. He holds the record of the highest selling live stand-up comedy DVD of all time and is still one of the UK’s most prolific stand-up comedians. His most recent tour, ‘The Tour That Didn’t Tour Tour’ has just entered the record books as the biggest selling comedy tour of all time; playing to over 1.2 million people.


The Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band is one of 23 military bands in the Corps of Army Music and is based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. They perform many varieties of music within their ensembles for both military and civilian engagements across the British Isles and many other countries around the World.


STOMP was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1991 and is now celebrating 20 years of phenomenal success. Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas had collaborated as street performers and musicians for over 10 years before taking the show to the Edinburgh Festival. It was in 1992, however, after a string of festival appearances in Australia that STOMP really took off. In 1994 the show debuted in New York and has been filling the Orpheum Theatre ever since.


The Royal Marine’s Corps of Drums pride themselves on maintaining the highest standards of drill, bugling and drumming whilst their glittering presence at the front of all Royal Marines Bands gives a visual impact that is second to none.


Kodo strives to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts. In Japanese the word Kodo conveys two meanings: The first is ‘heartbeat;’ the primal source of all rhythm and the second interpretation is ‘children of the drum;’ a reflection of Kodo's desire to play the drums simply, with the heart of a child. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given over 3400 performances on all five continents.


The Dhol drum is a two sided drum often used for various celebrations in Punjabi Folk music from Punjab, India. Established in 1989, Johnny Kalsi heads the group, travelling around the world to promote the Dhol to the masses. The Dhol Foundation has reinvented traditional beats & rhythms to adapt to any style of music and have previously performed with the likes of The Kaiser Chiefs and at ‘Live8 Africa Calling’.


3RUN is a world leading professional performance team specialising in the Arts of Movement: Parkour, Free Running, Martial Arts and Urban Acrobatics. They have developed an unrivalled level of experience based on 10 years of professional performance providing high impact, visually provoking movement sequences, and together possess an impressive 15 Guinness World Records.


Internationally acclaimed, Grammy and Brit award winning Cee Lo Green, has had phenomenal success over the past 15 years. He first secured his name with hip-hop group Goodie Mob and later formed the duo Gnarls Barkley with whom he co-wrote and sang one of the most successful singles of the 21st Century: ‘Crazy’.


Less than two years since she released her debut album ‘Turn It Up’, Pixie Lott is firmly lodged in the public’s affections. The first two singles from the album; ‘Mamma Do’ and ‘Boys and Girls’ topped the UK charts and the album has now sold over one million copies, a triple-platinum triumph. She has received three Brit nominations and was the winner of two MTV Europe Awards in 2009.


BASE BERLIN, Europe's foremost acrobatic variety company, presents two new superstars in the acrobatic-variety firmament; the incredible Rémi Martin and Eike von Stuckenbrok. Along with BASE founder and renowned director Markus Pabst, Eike and Rémi have won multiple prestigious European awards including Paris, Dresden and Munich Festival prizes.


Renowned for his charming and effortless delivery, Jason Manford is honoured to bring his natural hilarity to the Royal Variety Performance again this year. This multi award winning stand up will be hosting a ‘Live at the Apollo’ for BBC1 again this Christmas. His place as the UK’s fastest rising comedy star has been firmly cemented selling over 600,000 live tickets to date. His autobiography ‘Brung Up Proper’ and second DVD is out now.


Tens of thousands of people applied for Britain’s Got Talent 2011, but it was Jai McDowall who won the judges and public over with his unforgettable voice. He wowed the audience with his incredible rendition of Josh Groban’s ‘To Where You Are’ and has since embarked on the Britain’s Got Talent tour, performing to huge crowds across the country.


In the past two years, ex-lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls; Hawaii born, singer-songwriter-dancer-actor Nicole Scherzinger, has become one of the most successful artists in the UK. With a run of top five hit singles, including number 1 single ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ and a top 10 debut solo album ‘Killer Love,’ she has amassed a huge international following and currently sits on the judging panel of the biggest TV show launched this year: US X-Factor.


Sam Wills is a prop-comic act originally from New Zealand who after a decade of success in his home country, moved to the UK with his silent comedy, mime and magic act; ‘The Boy with Tape on His Face’. Through simple, clever and charming humour, The Boy has created one of the most accessible and enjoyable shows the world has ever seen. After a hugely successful debut show and a ‘Best Newcomer’ nomination at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival, he took his critically acclaimed act on a national tour.


Born in Mexico City, Rolando Villazón began his musical studies at the National Conservatory of Music before entering young artist programmes in Pittsburgh and at San Francisco Opera. Through his uniquely compelling performances with all leading opera houses and orchestras around the world, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as one of the music world’s most critically acclaimed and beloved stars and leading tenors of our day.


2011 marks a phenomenal 10 year anniversary within the music industry for soprano Hayley Westenra. At the tender age of 14 she released her debut album, ‘Pure’, which in December 2007, was certified as the biggest selling Classical album of the 21st Century. Her latest album, ‘Paradiso’, sees her collaborate with master Italian composer Ennio Morricone which has reached number 1 in the pop and classical charts in New Zealand and entered the top 10 of the UK Pop Album Charts. 


With a stellar career spanning over three decades, British-born Iranian comic and actor Omid Djalili’s legendary performances on stage and screen have won him plaudits the world over. Credits include the NBC sitcom ‘Whoopi’ with Whoopi Goldberg, ‘Fagin’ in West-End smash-hit ‘Oliver!’ and ‘Mahmud Nasir’ in ‘The Infidel’. Omid also starred in the blockbusting ‘Sex and the City 2’ and ‘Mr.Nice’.


David Garrett is the finest and fastest violinist of his generation. A virtuoso and a maverick, 31-year-old Garrett is trail-blazing a unique career as both a classical and crossover performer. His relaxed brilliance and eclectic style has breathed new life into the classical musical world, drawing in an exceptionally broad fan base from the sophisticated black-tie concert hall audience to the head-banging, hip-swaying stadium-going youth.


For 35 years Penn & Teller have defied labels by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their own very distinct niche in comedy. With an amazing six wins, including 2011, as ‘Las Vegas Magicians of the Year’, their 10-year run at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino makes them one of the longest running and most-beloved shows in Las Vegas history, outselling every other resident magician on The Strip. 


Based on the iconic MGM movie musical, which itself celebrates the 60th anniversary of its release in 2012, this brand new stage production of ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ will open at London’s Palace Theatre in February next year following its critically acclaimed, sold out run at Chichester Festival Theatre this summer.


Il Divo are one of the most successful international musical break-out stories of this millennium and the world’s leading classical crossover quartet. Recently named Artist of the Decade at the Classic BRITS, Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, French pop artist Sebastien Izambard and US tenor David Miller were formed by Simon Cowell in 2003 and have sold over 25 million albums, with 150 going gold and platinum in 33 countries.


Best known as the psychotic Head of Sixth Form Mr. Gilbert in ‘The Inbetweeners’ (Ch4), Greg first appeared on television in the critically acclaimed anarchic sketch group ‘We Are Klang’ (BBC3). In 2010 Greg’s solo stand up show ‘Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog’ delighted audiences at the Edinburgh Festival with manically told tales of growing up and the tribulations of his former teaching career. The show was nominated for the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award and an enormous sell-out national tour followed.


With worldwide sales of more than 80 million records, Barry Manilow’s success is a benchmark in popular music. His concerts sell out instantly. He is ranked as the top adult contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records) and Billboard Magazines, with no less than 25 consecutive Top 40 hits.


Internationally acclaimed as one of live comedy’s masters, Jimeoin is one of the hottest stand-ups of this generation. A prolific writer with an exceptional audience rapport, he is known and loved for his brilliantly funny wit and charming observations on the absurdities of everyday life. He performs sell-out tours all over the globe including seasons in London’s West End and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 


Leona first came to prominence six years ago as the Hackney born starlet who triumphed as the X Factor winner of 2006. Since then she has become known as one of the most successful British pop exports in modern music. She is already a multi-platinum selling artist and three time Grammy Award nominee for her music spread between two consecutive albums, ‘Spirit’ and ‘Echo.’ Leona has now sold over 9 million albums with her most successful single, ‘Bleeding Love,’ reaching number one in over thirty countries.


Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ celebrated its 25th Anniversary with three spectacular sell-out performances at the Royal Albert Hall in October 2011. Now in its 26th record-breaking year, this multi-award winning musical has played over 10,000 performances in London and is Broadway’s longest running musical. This exclusive performance featured the amazing lead vocal talents of Nicole Scherzinger! 


Tim Minchin is an Australian musician, composer, songwriter, actor, comedian and writer. As well as performing to sell-out crowds around the world and touring UK arenas with the 55 piece Heritage Orchestra, Tim has written music and lyrics for the RSC’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ which transferred to the West End this autumn. 


Tony Bennett was discovered in 1949 by Bob Hope and has a career spanning over 60 years. He has recorded over a 100 albums and is the only living performer to have charting albums over 6 decades. His recent ‘Duets II’ album included duets with amongst others Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse, debuted at No 1 in the US and was a Top 5 album across the world. He is the oldest living performer ever to have a Top 5 album in the UK. 

5th December, 2011
Lowry Theatre, Salford, Manchester

2011 Royal Variety Performance Programme, Show & Aftershow ticket

Show Introduction
Royal Variety 2011
Drumming Ensemble
Hayley Westenra, Stomp, DHOL, 3RUN
Heavy Calvary & Cambrai Band

View more videos on our Vimeo Channel

Nicole Scherzinger
Phantom of the Opera
Royal Variety 2011

View more videos on our Vimeo Channel

Singing In The Rain
Royal Variety 2011

View more videos on our Vimeo Channel

Leona Lewis
Royal Variety 2011

View more videos on our Vimeo Channel

Barry Manilow
Royal Variety 2011

View more videos on our Vimeo Channel