TV preview: Royal Variety Performance 2013

Dame Edna Everage wanders into the Royal Box.
Dame Edna Everage wanders into the Royal Box.
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As you get older, it often feels as if the years pass by more quickly.

Or, if you’re a showbusiness type, then the next Royal Variety Performance seems to come around faster than ever before.

Thank goodness, then, the event always features top guests guaranteed to keep us coming back for more. Okay, so some of them can be a bit on the cheesy side, and there have been accusations in the past that the show is no longer relevant to modern audiences, but try telling that to the thousands who see it live, and the millions who tune in to watch it on TV.

If variety happens to be the spice of your life, then this most spectacular of extravaganzas is likely to pep up a cold Monday night. In fact, it could be said that if you’re not looking forward to this year’s celebrity-packed extravaganza, then there ain’t no pleasing you, or that you’re (snooker) loopy...

Yes, headlining the event is Chas & Dave, the cockney duo who’ve been entertaining us with their unique brand of musical entertainment for the past 50 years. After almost two decades of silence, they returned to the album charts this year with That’s What Happens, but we’re hoping they’ll be playing some of their old hits here. It would be interesting to find out what Mary J Blige makes of them – she’s also appearing, and we can’t imagine that she’s come across many similar acts in her native New York.

Gary Barlow, Jessie J, Olly Murs, Caro Emerald and Bryn Terfel are also on the bill, alongside comedians Jimmy Carr, Jason Byrne, Hal Cruttenden and Seann Walsh. There are also special performances from stars of West End musicals, current Strictly Come Dancing champion Flavia Cacace and Gareth Malone’s new choir, Voices. And don’t forget to look out for Attraction, the Hungarian dance troupe who won Britain’s Got Talent.

The event is being hosted by Liverpudlian comic John Bishop, who said: “As a child, the Royal Variety show was like the Grand National and the FA Cup final – it was something our family always watched, the only difference being that we didn’t bet on the winner.”

While the stars bask in their moment of glory, the reasons why the Royal Variety Performance exists and the charity it raises money for rarely get a mention, so let’s put that right – it’s the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund that benefits, and it deserves as much of a round of applause as the stars on the night.

ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE 2013, ITV, MONDAY, DEC 9, 7.30PM

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