Royal Variety Performance 2009

The Royal Variety Performance is the event of the year I most look forward to, and being lucky enough to be there over the last few years this time I decided to share it with 20 of my closest friends and family, but I wish I’d bought more tickets in the end as so many other people wanted to go.

This year’s show was filmed in Blackpool, for the first time since 1955 and that also made it much easier for me to cross the Pennines rather than travelling to London.

Myself and my guests were all dressed up in black tie and party frocks, and we found ourselves seated right next to the Queen at the front of the circle – she sneezed and it splashed me we were that close! I was surprised that my nephew who is 17 was really in awe of her and I wouldn’t have expected that of someone his age. The oldest member of our party was 52 and my nephew at 17, the youngest - they all enjoyed the variety of acts who appeared and that’s the great thing about the show.

The Royal Family alternate their attendances at the annual event these days so I was pleased it was Her Majesty’s turn this year so those who hadn’t been before were in awe of her more than they would have been if Charles and Camilla had been there.

The star studded lineup included Michael Buble, Bette Midler, Peter Kay, Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity, Katherine Jenkins, Lady GaGa; Paddy McGuinness, Faryl Smith, The Soldiers - Trooper Ryan Idzi, Sergeant Richie Maddocks and Sergeant Major Gary Chilton - a singing trio who served in Iraq and Afghanistan., 2008 X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, Bob Golding as Eric Morecambe; Whoopi Goldberg, Miley Cyrus; Faryl Smith, and the cast of Here Come the Girls; Anastacia, Lulu and Chaka Khan- wow!

I’m tipping Hal Cruttenden to be the next big thing – he’s a stand up comedian with a camp sense of humour – a cross between Alan Carr and Michael McIntyre – he’s married with children although he said he forgives people who think he’s gay.

The ventriloquist, Paul Zerdin was the only act the Queen laughed at, it appeared she was not amused at most of the performances and never cracked a smile. She may have struggled to understand Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness though as they have such strong Lancashire accents – it may be a good thing really as Paddy’s jokes weren’t fit for a Queen or a family audience.

Peter Kay was presenting the show; he was extremely funny when ad-libbing but I don’t think he’s the right man for reading cue cards. I’ll be interested to see how he comes across once the programme is edited as he did make a few mistakes. For some reason he came on stage at one point wearing a fluffy bunny costume but the relevance of that was lost on me.

I was looking forward to Lady GaGa’s performance, however it was a little tame as she’d been asked to tone down her outfit and her act for her Majesty but it was still off the wall with a piano strung really high up. Apparently she’d gone through a crash course in etiquette before being allowed to meet the Queen, and had even been practising curtseying.

Alexandra Burke was also, fantastic quite Americanised though and all the set up behind her was too. The stage set is amazing at Blackpool especially given the number of acts who appear back to back.
The night wasn’t over once the curtain had come down however. I had tickets for the after show party, which this year included a meal, and was put on the same table as Faryl Smith and her father who had earlier led the National Anthem at the show. She has to be the most interesting 14 year old I’ve ever met. She’s got a huge career ahead of her and her social diary is unbelievable, charity do’s etc. Watch this space for her.

I feel ashamed I don’t know all the words to the national anthem but if I go next year I’ll definitely learn them.

At the after show party I met Michael Buble, Whoopi Goldberg (always wanted to meet her), Miley Cyrus and a few other comedians. I can’t dish any dirt as they were all very nice to us, probably because they didn’t have their ‘people’ with them except Miley Cyrus who’s Manager tried to stop us having a photo with her but Miley just side stepped him and had her picture taken.

It seemed a most unlikely place for it to be in Blackpool but the seaside town handled it just as well as London does with hotels and transport etc. None of the celebs went to use the Pleasure Beach though as the weather was freezing so at least Whoopi Goldberg didn’t ruin her hair do on the Big One!

Overall I felt Bette Midler and Michael Buble stole the show. Bette said she’d spent her life performing in front of Queens but never the real one until now. It was a truly memorable night once again and I can’t wait to see it again on TV.