Shepherd's Bush Green, London
Hammersmith and Fulham
02 Empire Shepherds Bush /Shepherds Bush Empire
Formally known as the Shepherds Bush Empire a grade II listed building built in 1903 as a music hall.
Frank Matcham designed the theatre he created some 90 theatres and redesigned near as many others. They built it for Theatre manager impresario Sir Oswald Stoll.
The entertainment entrepreneur Fred Karno gave Charlie Chaplin a trial in 1906 at the Shepherds Bush Empire as a favour to Syd Chaplin, Charlie’s brother. Syd was already one of Karno’s comedians. Karno was initially unimpressed with the face-to-face appearance of Chaplin. Karno signed Chaplin under contract, during the trial Karno observed a satisfied audience, and that Syd was right about his brother.
BBC Television Theatre Shepherds Bush Empire
In 1953 it became BBC Television Theatre.
One of the first shows broadcast was Variety Parade in 1953. Morecambe and Wise, Max Bygraves and other greats graced this stage.
Other shows include; the Generation Game, That’s Life, The Old Grey Whistle test, Crackerjack, This is your life, Jukebox Jury, Wogan.
Music and entertainment stars who would have appeared at the Shepherds Bush Empire
Cliff Richard, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Lulu, Vera Lynn, Harry Secombe, Val Doonican, the Osmond’s. Amy Winehouse recorded live “I told you I was trouble”, The Dammed, Westlife, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, Mumford & Sons
WOGAN Tv chat show was broadcast from Shepherds Bush Empire
From 1981 to 1991 they broadcast the regular televised chat show from the Shepherds Bush BBC television Theatre.
Significant Guest stars who appeared on the show
Fanny Cradock: Food critic made her last BBC TV appearance on the 1986 Wogan show where she described Wogan’s form of questioning as “very rude”
Joan Collins: Avoided or cancelled being on the show many times until eventually a whole show dedicated to her in 1988, tension though since her book promotion came under scrutiny.
Other stars Cilla Black, Vivienne Westwood, George Best, Ronnie Barker, Raquel Welch, Victoria Principal, Rock Hudson
Anne Bancroft: Despite being an Academy Award winner and associated with great films like The Graduate. Producers had only told Bancroft moments before they went on air that the show was live. There was a pause, and limited words used in responses.
David Bowie: 1991 Wogan quotes as being one of the hardest interviews
Presenters who broadcast from Shepherds Bush Empire
Sue Lawley, Kenneth Williams, Ben Elton, Terry Wogan, Joanna Lumley, Selina Scott, Gloria Hunniford, Jonathan Ross, Felicity Kendal, Bruce Forsyth, Esther Rantzen, Larry Grayson, Isla St Clair.
If you have any memories of visiting the Shepards Bush Empire old or new do get in touch and share.