The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety shows.
Walter Gibbons, an early moving pictures manager, built the Palladium in 1910 to compete with Edward Moss's London Hippodrome and Oswald Stoll's London Coliseum. The facade (originally that of Argyll House, which is why the pub opposite is called The Argyll Arms) dates back to the 19th century. Formerly it was a temporary wooden building called Corinthian Bazaar, which featured an aviary and aimed to attract customers from the recently closed Pantheon Bazaar (now Marks and Spencers) on Oxford Street. The theatre was rebuilt a year later by Fredrick Hengler, the son of a tightrope walker, as a circus venue that included an aquatic display in a flooded ring. Next it became the National Skating Palace - a skating rink with real ice. However the rink failed and the Palladium was redesigned by Frank Matcham, a famous theatrical architect who also designed the Coliseum, for a site that previously housed Hengler's Circus. The building now carries Heritage Foundation commemorative plaques honouring Lew Grade and Frankie Vaughan.
The theatre retains many of its original features and was Grade II listed by English Heritage in September 1960. The Palladium had its own telephone system so the occupants of boxes could call one another. It also had a revolving stage.
The London Palladium turned 100 years old on Boxing Day 2010, and a one-hour television special entitled '100 Years of the Palladium' aired on BBC Two on December 31, 2010.