Skip to main content

Royal Variety Performance: what to expect

Royal Variety Performance: what to expect

Everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s show, including the venue, the host and the line-up

By Laura Rutkowski, Staff Writer

The Royal Variety Performance never fails to raise a smile and a laugh (which is what Brits are known for doing, even through the most difficult circumstances). This year, it’s back to cheer up the nation as we welcome it with eager and socially-distanced arms.


We’ve missed the theatre, gigs and stand-up for the past year, but now, the entertainment is coming to us! Forget about 2020 for the night and celebrate top-tier talent in a two-hour feel-good show. We can’t think of a better way to pep up our Tuesday evening! Here’s what you can expect…

What is The Royal Variety Performance?

The Royal Variety Performance, which dates back to 1912, is the world’s longest-running entertainment show. It’s attended by members of the British Royal Family to raise funds for the Royal Variety Charity, which provides support for entertainers and theatre workers during challenging times.

Where is The Royal Variety Performance held?

This year, it takes place at the Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex. The last time the show was held in Blackpool was in 2009, and this is the first time the event has left London since 2011, when it was held at Salford’s Lowry Theatre.

Is there an audience?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the audience will be virtual this year. Normally, the show is aired live, but it was pre-recorded on 29 November.

Who hosts The Royal Variety Performance?

Comedian, actor and singer Jason Manford, who has appeared on The Royal Variety Performance three times since 2009, is hosting this year. On Twitter, he posted, “I hope you enjoy the show and it breaks the monotony of this year-with-no-theatre up helping you forget 2020 at least for a couple of hours.” Sounds good to us!

Who’s on The Royal Variety Performance?

The 2020 line-up includes Captain Thomas Moore, who was promoted to honorary colonel on his 100th birthday by the Queen. The lockdown hero walked 200 laps of his garden to raise nearly £33 million for NHS Charities Together. He also teamed up with Michael Ball to release a fundraising cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which they will perform with the NHS choir.

Enjoy more music from Gary Barlow, Brit Award winner Celeste, Spice Girl Melanie C and Steps.

For some West End magic, Sheridan Smith reprises her role as Cilla Black from Cilla The Musical, and Samantha Barks takes to the stage as Queen Elsa to sing “Let It Go” from Frozen The Musical. Marisha Wallace, who you’ll recognise from Dreamgirls and Waitress, also puts on a spectacular show. 

TV presenter Stephen Mulhern, Kenyan acrobats The Black Blues Brothers and musical comedian and Britain’s Got Talent 2020 winner Jon Courtenay all entertain and amaze during the evening, with stand-ups Jo Caulfield and Daliso Chaponda on hand for side-splitting gags.

Which Royals will be attending?

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will be the Royal representative in his first appearance at the event since 2016. In tonight’s special video message to the Royal Variety Charity and the artists performing, he says: “On behalf of the Patron of The Royal Variety Performance, Her Majesty the Queen, I can only send the most special and heartfelt thanks to all of tonight’s incredibly talented performers who have come together in the splendid surroundings of the Blackpool Opera House to entertain, to inspire and, above all, to help those in need.


“And while, very sadly, we may not be able to gather as we usually would, I am delighted that, despite all adversity, the determination and dedication of everyone involved means that the show really can go on.”

When will The Royal Variety Performance be on TV?

The Royal Variety Performance airs on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) tonight, Tuesday 8 December, at 8pm. It is also available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub.

You might also like

TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

ITV HD is subject to regional variation. ITV HD is not available where STV HD or UTV HD is available.

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.