Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Dame Edna surprises royal couple

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall came face-to-face with a host of stars at the Royal Variety Performance in London - and had to deal with an unexpected guest in the royal box.

The couple walked the red carpet and greeted performer Jessie J, Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, and trustees from EABF, before entering the London Palladium for the annual event of the best of British.

But as they took their seats, Camilla appeared speechless as Dame Edna Everage turned up in the royal box.

The audience laughed as Dame Edna looked at her ticket and joked: "I'm so sorry, they found me a better seat".

Charles and Camilla were also treated to a performance of Harry Hill's X Factor musical, and admitted he was feeling nervous about performing it.

He showcased performances from the stage show, I Can't Sing!, at the star-studded event at the London Palladium.

Speaking before the event, he said: "I am a little bit nervous. You kind of feel for them (the cast) because the show hasn't been in rehearsal yet... But that's showbusiness."

Hill penned the musical, which opens next year, starring Nigel Harman as Simon Cowell.

The X Factor has been hit by a slide in viewing figures, and TV Burp star Hill said that this would be reflected in the musical.

He said the performance includes a ukulele enthusiast, references to Cowell as a father and his ability to impregnate women simply by looking at them.

Hill said that the musical would not "go for the jugular" and would appeal to fans of The X Factor, as well as people who do not like the ITV talent show.

Warming up the crowd at the event, host John Bishop joked: "Be merry, be happy and no-one be beheaded.

"Obviously if mad Harry was here it would be a different story."

Bishop welcomed Charles and Camilla, congratulating them on their new grandson, but warning: "Enjoy this because soon you will be babysitting."

The Duchess, who wore a Vivienne Westwood dress in petrol blue, watched on as the evening was kicked off with a lively performance by Gary Barlow singing Greatest Day and Let Me Go.

Figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean took to the stage in matching purple outfits, before h ip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks performed and H arry Hill treated the audience to a preview of his upcoming West End spoof X Factor musical I Can't Sing!

Singer-songwriter Jessie J performed her latest single Thunder and Irish comedian Jason Byrne appeared on stage in underwear and a white vest but donned a suit jacket and bow tie to give his show.

US Grammy award winner Mary J Blige sang My Favourite Things from the Sound of Music, against a backdrop of white trees shrouded in fairy lights.

Olly Murs performed a surprise duet with Robbie Williams, singing the Jungle Book classic tune I Wanna Be Like You.

Speaking after the performance, Jimmy Carr said: "I love doing the show. The charitable aspect of the night - for the old showbiz types that fall on hard times - often gets lost in all the glamour and the glitz. I think Charles and Camilla were both pleased that I got away with it again."

Gary Barlow said: "Prince Charles told me he had a great night, and that it was a really good opening. I think this event can have a bit of stigma attached to it because of the ticket price. This is the fifth time I have done it and I always look forward to it."

J ack Topping, 11, who opened the show with a solo performance of the national anthem, said: "Prince Charles asked me if my voice had broken. I replied 'no, Sir.'"

Topping, who is a member of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir, also sang in front of the Queen at the Remembrance Concert in the Royal Albert Hall earlier this month. He said: "It has all been amazing."

British singer and musician John Newman said: "This is my biggest performance so far. Prince Charles congratulated me on my performance and said he hoped to see me again next year.

"He told me that he had been to the town where I grew up - Settle in North Yorkshire - to open a post office."

Dave Peacock, from the cockney and rock duo Chas & Dave, said: "Prince Charles told me that he wished we could have gone on for a bit longer. He asked how long we had been together."

The Royal Variety Performance will be screened on ITV on Monday December 9.

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