Bradley Walsh can’t believe he’s hosting an entire series from London’s famous Palladium Theatre for ITV…
What’s it like for you hosting the new series of Tonight At The London Palladium?
“My mum took me to the London Palladium in 1974 to see Tommy Steele in Hans Andersen – that’s when I knew I wanted to get into showbusiness. The Palladium is one of the most iconic venues on the planet and all the greats like Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra have appeared there. For me to be resident there for eight weeks is just a dream come true.”
Are you in dressing room number one?
“Yes because I have to be as close to the stage as possible, but I don’t think it’s been decorated since 1841! There’s something iconic about that though – you sit in the sofa and behind you there’s a poster of Liberace!”
World famous opera singer Andrea Bocelli appears in this week’s first show. Are you fan of his?
“I’m completely in awe of him. I remember being on the bill for the Royal Variety Performance in 1999 and I stood in the wings watching Bocelli sing. But comic Brian Conley was with me and, as I’m trying to listen to Bocelli sing, I’ve got Brian pinching my bum and going: ‘It’s a puppet!’ I met Bocelli a year later and he signed some CDs for me – they’re my prized possessions.”
The first show also features singer-songwriter, Birdy. Do you like seeing new acts coming along?
“Yes, I love it. I was so lucky when I was starting out – people like Brucie, Jimmy Tarbuck and Des O’Connor were so helpful to me, so I always like to ‘pay it forward’. I remember performing in Blackpool once and they asked if a young lad could come on and sing and I said: ‘Sure, stick him on, let him have a go’. He comes on, he sings great… It was Alfie Boe!”
Do you think that, when it comes to showbusiness, it’s about being in the right place, at the right time?
“Absolutely! No matter what happens to you in life, no one know what’s around the corner, so you have to take the bull by the horns and not be frightened to do anything. We’re just ordinary people with nothing to lose – so always spread your wings and have a go.”
Why does a show like this make for great entertainment?
“It’s fun for all the family – anyone from five to 105 can watch it. It won’t be like Sunday Night at the London Palladium, where it was just one act after another, it will be a different type of midweek entertainment show, with lots of surprises along the way. The audience will be getting involved too – we want people to come and have the time of their lives!”
You’re 56 now – would you say this is a really productive time for you?
“One thing that keeps you young is being in showbusiness. To be honest, I don’t feel 56 – I train every day, I look after myself and I’m loving every second of it.”
Throughout your career, you’ve successfully managed to combine acting and presenting – do you have a preference?
“No, I love it all. But since I finished Law & Order UK I haven’t had time to do any more acting because always I’m so busy with The Chase. I have missed the acting, but I have such a laugh on The Chase, it’s so much fun. I’ve met members of the public on that show who’ve been so inspiring – they come out with the most brilliant things.”
Can we expect any of the Chasers from your other show, The Chase, to put an appearance at the Palladium?
“You’ll have to wait and see – but I’d love to take them out of their comfort zone, I’d find it hysterical. I’d enjoy seeing them messing up because they’re so pompous that it would be funny bringing them down a peg or two!”
Tonight At The London Palladium starts on Wednesday at 8pm on ITV.