o2 Empire, Shepherds Bush, Whats On and Theatre Tickets
56 Shepherds Bush Green, Shepherd's Bush, London, W12 8QE T: 0870 771 2000
o2 Empire, Shepherds Bush
It was built in 1903 for impresario Oswald Stoll, designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham. The first performers at the new theatre were The Fred Karno Troupe incl. Charlie Chaplin (1906). The Empire staged music-hall entertainments, such as variety performances and revues, until the early 1950s, by which time the popularity of these forms of entertainment was declining.
In 1953, the Empire was sold to the BBC, which put it to use as a television studio–theatre, renaming it the BBC Television Theatre. Among the programmes produced there were Crackerjack, Hancock's Half Hour, The Old Grey Whistle Test, That's Life!, The Generation Game, The Basil Brush Show, Juke Box Jury, This is Your Life, Jim'll Fix It, almost all the BBC's light entertainment music shows, such as those starring Cliff Richard, Lulu, Cilla Black, Shirley Bassey, Vera Lynn, Harry Secombe, Petula Clark, as well as the UK's Eurovision Song Contest preliminary heat, A Song For Europe. In 1985, the theatre was turned over for exclusive use by Wogan, which was broadcast 3 nights a week from the theatre.
The BBC vacated the building in 1991. It was taken over and, in 1994, again became the Shepherds Bush Empire