Final preparations underway as Winter Gardens prepares to host Royal Variety Show 2020, welcoming stars Gary Barlow, Melanie C, Sheridan Smith and Jason Manford

Blackpool will today welcome and bring together the best of British stars, Gary Barlow and Jason Manford, for one of the most prestigious and loved nights on the entertainments calendar with the first-ever 'virtual' Royal Variety Show at the Winter Gardens.

By Nicola Jaques
Sunday, 29th November 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th November 2020, 1:23 pm

Gary Barlow, Melanie C, Britain's Got Talent 2020 winner Jon Courtenay, West End star Marisha Wallace and comics Jo Caulfield and Deliso Chaponda are just some of the acts to make the bill for the 2020 show, which will be presented by award winning comedian and actor Jason Manford.

The annually held vital charity fundraiser, will also this year see Prince Charles deliver a poignant video message.

The spectacular production will take place on the Opera House stage, the third time the historic venue has been honoured with delivering the special event.

Gary Barlow will perform at the Royal Variety Show in Blackpool at the Winter Gardens

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    Chairman of the Royal Variety Show Giles Cooper said Blackpool, the undisputed home of showbiz, is the only town the Royal Variety has visited more than once, outside of London.

    The show first came to Blackpool in 1955, returning in 2009. Her Majesty the Queen was in the resort on both occasions to watch the event.

    Mr Cooper said: "It is the undisputed home of variety in the UK and so we have to come to Blackpool every now and again and given these circumstances we hope it won't be so long before we can come again next time.

    "It's great to be back. Blackpool goes way back into the history of musical and comedy - to play in Blackpool, whether one of the theatres or a pier was the highlight of a performer's career in the same way it is to be on the Royal Variety Show.

    Chairman of the Royal Variety Show Giles Cooper

    "It's a big moment, a pinnacle of a career, a very special feeling."

    The Winter Gardens has been a hive of activity all week in the build up to the globally received fundraiser and Mr Cooper says the team are delighted to be delivering the show after a very challenging year amid the Covid crisis.

    He added the RVS going ahead was more important than ever with the entertainments industry in parts suffering 'complete annihilation.'

    The charity has been hard at work in the last year providing vital grants for working professionals in all areas of the business. It is hoped this year's performance will help raise critical funds for an industry in an unprecedented crisis.

    Sheridan Smith will perform at the Royal Variety Show 2020

    Mr Cooper added: "It holds greater significance this year and it was not by design, it is actually a coincidence but the fact we've had such a difficult year and the north west has had a tough time not just this year but for some time. It is great to be supporting the industry but also the region in this way.

    "The Winter Gardens has ended up the perfect venue. We had anticipated a socially distanced audience which it would have been able to accommodate due to its size and so we had planned for an audience of around 850 people in their bubbles.

    "But as it became clear a physical audience would not be possible, it's still the perfect venue in terms of the sheer size.

    "We've been able to socially distance everyone from the production teams to the artists, crew, make up, logistics. It has made life so much easier with all the restrictions. The ITV Studios team have just been so supportive and were as equally determined to help us pull this off. "

    The Queen attending the Royal Variety performance in 2009 at the Winter Gardens.

    Instead of a full house, tonight the performers will play to a virtual audience, with the very best of technology allowing those fortunate enough to secure 'tickets' to join in from home.

    Acts on the night will be able to see each audience member 'virtually' on the screens placed across the front stalls in the Opera House, in another first for the annual event.

    The audience will include many local groups and organisations, including NHS and care home key workers in the town, as well as the Little Voices choir.

    For more on the charity or to make a donation to the cause visit: https://www.royalvarietycharity.org/royal-variety-charity/applyforhelp

    Jason Manford will be hosting the Royal Variety Performance at Blackpool
    Melanie C will also perform in Blackpool for the Royal Variety Performance.