London Palladium

The London Palladium is a 2,286-seat west-end theatre located just off Oxford Street. Judging from the impressive roster of stars who have performed there over the years it is arguably the most famous theatre in London, especially for high-profile variety shows.

The venue was built in 1910 by Walter Gibbons to compete with the capital’s other large venues, The London Hippodrome and the London Coliseum. The building’s facade dates back to the 19th century when it was a temporary wooden building called Corinthian Bazaar, and featured amongst other things, an aviary to attract customers from the recently closed-down Pantheon Bazaar (now the Marks and Spencer’s on Oxford Street). The venue was rebuilt the following year as a circus venue by Fredrick Hengler, the son of a tightrope walker, and included an aquatic display in a flooded ring. Following that, the National Skating Palace was built there, featuring a skating rink with real ice, however, the rink failed commercially and the Palladium was then redesigned by Frank Matcham, a well-known theatrical architect who had also designed the Coliseum. One of the unique features of the Palladium was that it had its own telephone system so the patrons occupying boxes could call one another. There was also a revolving stage for maximum effect

The building now carries Heritage Foundation commemorative plaques that honour Lew Grade and Frankie Vaughn and retains a lot of its original features and was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 1960.

The Palladium became the premier London venue for variety performances and is especially linked to the Royal Variety Performances, which are still held there to this day. From 1928 the venue was managed by George Black (who controlled the Moss Empires group of theatres) and even became a cinema for three months. In the 1930s it became the home for ‘The Crazy Gang’ and the ‘London’ part of the name of the theatre was added in 1934.

Val Parnell took over the reins in 1945 as Managing Director of the theatre and adopted a controversial, but a very successful policy of bringing over big-name acts from the USA to the top of the bill. The list of American stars who performed there included Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra to name but a few, and who froze out the British stars who became relegated to second-billing.

Top-rated TV variety show Sunday Night At The London Palladium was hosted at the venue from 1955-67, first by Tommy Trinder and then by Bruce Forsyth. The show was produced by Val Parnell, and broadcast live on TV weekly by ATV, which was owned by the famous theatrical impresario Lew Grade.

Val Parnell later became associated with property development and began selling Moss Empires’ theatres for redevelopment, however, in 1966 when it became known that this fate awaited the London Palladium, and also other iconic venues such as the Victoria Palace and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Prince Littler organised a take-over to save the theatres from their fate and Val Parnell retired from the business to live in France. Stoll-Moss then recruited a new Managing Director, Louis Benjamin, who took on the role while also continuing as MD of Pye Records within the ATV Group.

The venue then began staging both pop concerts as well as staging musicals, as Sammy Davis Jr starred in ‘Golden Boy’, the first book musical to be produced in the venue in 1968.

Glam rockers Slade played a gig in the theatre in January 1973 which resulted in the balcony almost collapsing and in 1976 Marvin Gaye recorded a live gig at the venue with the performance being documented on the resulting double LP, entitled ‘Live At The London Palladium’ and released in 1977. It is considered to be one of Gaye’s finest-ever live recordings.

In the 1980s the Palladium once again became the setting for the popular TV variety show ‘Live From The London Palladium’, compered this time by Jimmy Tarbuck. Ownership of the theatre at this time was the Stoll Moss Theatre Group, but this changed in 2000 when the venue was bought by Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Really Useful Group.

From May 2000 to January 2002, the Palladium staged the west-end transfer from Broadway of ‘The King And I’ starring Jason Scott Lee and Elaine Paige, and before the opening, the box office had already taken more than £7 million in ticket sales. The show was a lavish affair, with new dialogue and music added to the score, and the original material updated. It was only after this production closed down that the famous (but now outdated) revolving stage was removed and replaced with more modern technology.

From 2002 to 2005, the London Palladium staged the theatrical version of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ that featured a musical score by the Sherman Brothers, and throughout its three-and-a-half-year run, the production starred many celebrities proving to be the most successful stage show at the venue to date.

More musicals followed at Christmas 2005-06, when the venue staged Bill Kenwright’s production of ‘Scrooge- The Musical’ starring Tommy Steele which was followed by ‘Sinatra’, ‘The Sound Of Music’, ‘Sister Act-The Musical’ and ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ in May 2007 which also returned for another season in 2010. The London Palladium was also the lavish setting for the BAFTA awards.

Even when the theatre has a resident show, it is still able to stage one-off shows; this is made possible by the scenery of the resident show being specifically designed to be easily removed.

To celebrate the centenary of The London Palladium on 26th December 2010, a one-hour television special entitled ‘100 Years of the Palladium’ was aired on BBC 2 on December 31, 2010.

Recent productions at the venue include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Tickets to shows at the London Palladium are available to book securely through this website.

FAQ’s About Booking Tickets To The London Palladium

How Can I Book Cheap Tickets To The London Palladium?

The London Palladium is a huge theatre with a lot of seats to fill over three different levels which should offer some good value for tickets for midweek performances in the cheaper sections of the theatre such as the upper circle.  The stalls ands royal circle have three separate sections with the centre block on each tier being the most expensive, so for bargain hunters looking for value it can be beneficial to explore the sections on the sides that still offer clear views of the stage but at a much cheaper price than in the centre.

Should I Avoid Tickets To The London Palladium That Have a Restriction?

There are some seats in all three tiers of the theatre that do come with minor restrictions to the view.  In the stalls there is a slight restriction from row S onwards that is caused by the overhang from the royal circle that gets more severe the further back you are seated.  In the royal circle there is a similar albeit not quite as bad restriction from the overhang from the upper circle from row J onwards which can offer some good value for  tickets for those on a budget as it doesn’t really affect the view of the stage.  The only restriction in the upper circle worth noting is the railing at the front which does affect the view for the first couple of rows and legroom can also be an issue but generally speaking the view from this section is pretty good.  It is always advisable to check the seating plan thoroughly before booking to ensure complete transparency over your purchase especially for tickets that feature a restriction.

How Can I Buy Discount Tickets To The London Palladium?

It is unlikely that there will be too many official discount tickets when shows are only scheduled for a limited season however this is not set in stone and it is possible that for midweek performances during weeks that experience a softer footfall than usual there could be some discounts to be had if agents are buying tickets in advance at negotiated rates from the theatre.  There is also a possibility for obtaining last-minute ‘liability’ tickets from the shops in and around Leicester Square although to be fortunate enough to buy them would probably be down to more luck than judgement as customers would have to physically be in the shops about an hour prior to curtain in the hope that they have stock left over that they need to offload which is nothing more than a gamble and not a good strategy if you have to see the show on a particular date!

Is It Cheaper To Book Tickets To The London Palladium Online Or Direct From The Box Office?

This will depend on whether the producers feel that they are able to fill the venue for 8 shows every week or not?  If the general sale of tickets is both strong and consistent then it is likely that the theatre will only sell to agents at face value meaning that tickets booked through third party websites online will very probably have a booking fee added to the price making it more expensive than booking directly from the box office.  During quieter periods however the opposite can be the case as if the producers are struggling to fill the venue which is not uncommon during off peak times and for midweek performances then rates could well be negotiated with agents who can then pass any discounts received onto the consumer.

Seating Plan
London Palladium Seating Plan

8 Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TF

Venue Facilities
Air conditioned

Nearest Tube
Oxford Circus

Tube Lines
Central, Bakerloo, Victoria

Directions from nearest tube

(2mins) Exit 8 from the tube goes out onto Argyll Street (opposite the large Topshop). The theatre is 100 metres down the road.

Railway Station

Bus Numbers
(Regent Street) 3, 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 94, 139, 453, C2; (Oxford Street) 7, 8, 10, 25, 55, 73, 98, 390

Night Bus Numbers
(Regent Street) 6, 12, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453, C2, N3, N13, N15, N18, N109, N136; (Oxford Street) 7, 10, 25, 390, N7, N8, N55, N73, N98, N207

Car Park
Soho (4mins)

Within Congestion Zone

London Palladium Seating Plan

Transport Info

Oxford Circus
Central, Bakerloo, Victoria

(2mins) Exit 8 from the tube goes out onto Argyll Street (opposite the large Topshop). The theatre is 100 metres down the road.

(Regent Street) 3, 6, 12, 13, 23, 88, 94, 139, 453, C2; (Oxford Street) 7, 8, 10, 25, 55, 73, 98, 390
(Regent Street) 6, 12, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453, C2, N3, N13, N15, N18, N109, N136; (Oxford Street) 7, 10, 25, 390, N7, N8, N55, N73, N98, N207
Soho (4mins)

Venue Facilities

  • Air conditioned
  • Bar
  • Disabled toilets
  • Infrared hearing loop
  • Toilets
  • Wheelchair accessible
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