Click for larger image An Audience with Dame Edna Everage
Click for larger image The first ever "Audience with..." was recorded in August 1980 and shown on ITV on Boxing Day that year. Big names in the audience included Simon Williams, Marge Proops, Ted Moult and Lord Longford. How times have changed! The series was initially intended as a showcase for top comedy stars to show off their stage routine or tell their life story. Since 1995 it has been open to all manner of stars, especially singers. To date, more than 30 have been made.

Click for larger image An Audience with Dudley Moore
Click for larger image The second in the series, and a joyful showbiz spectacular from 26/12/1981. By this time, Dudley Moore had taken Hollywood and the world by storm as "Arthur". The Dagenham boy turned up at the less-than-salubrious 1981-style Upper Ground location of the LWT Studios, and entertained a showbiz audience which included Reggie Bosanquet and Dickie Davies. Peter Cook and singer-songwriter Christopher Cross were Dud's guests.

Click for larger image An Audience with Kenneth Williams
Click for larger image From the days when they could fill Studio 1 at Kent House with people worth listening to, Kenneth Williams enters to the strains of his old Combined Services Entertainment tune "Stairway to the Stars", before an audience comprising Dora Bryan, Andrew Sachs, Joan Sims, Bernard Bresslaw, Stanley Baxter, Nanette Newman, Bryan Forbes, Barry Took, Ned Sherrin, Timothy West, Geoffrey Hughes and Jean Alexander. Third in the series, tx 23/12/1983.

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Click for larger image An Audience with Billy Connolly
Click for larger image Dating from 26/10/1985, this show is well-remembered by comedy connoisseurs for Billy's hilarious observations. For instance, his memories of growing up in Glasgow in the 1940s, also the routine about products that can be ordered from magazine adverts - such as the giant slipper or the padded suit. For the finale, Billy suggests that the National Anthem should be updated, keeping the lyrics but setting them to the tune of The Archers! Robbie Coltrane, Michael Parkinson, Michael Aspel, Janet Brown and Barbara Dickson can all be seen turning beetroot red with laughter.

Click for larger image An Audience with Victoria Wood
Click for larger image From 10/12/1988, there are echoes of seaside postcards in this Audience with Victoria Wood. It's a super show, climaxing with a rousing performance of 'The Ballad of Barry and Freda'... Beat me on the bottom with the Woman's Weekly! Michael Grade probably hadn't laughed this much since the day he axed Doctor Who... Meanwhile, Tony Adams from Crossroads and Julie Walters are having a whale of a time in the front row.

Click for larger image An Audience with Bob Monkhouse
Click for larger image Bob claims that LWT booked his audience before booking him, but the producers ensured he had a full house for his comedy showcase, transmitted on 21st May 1994 and the twelfth in the series. This showbiz audience includes a youthful Gaby Roslin, Stephen Fry, Lorraine Kelly, Eamonn Holmes and Sir John Mills. Peter Lewis provides the continuity voice-over at the start.

Click for larger image An Audience with Ronnie Corbett
Click for larger image Transmitted on 25th October 1997, Ronnie Corbett is given his turn in the spotlight, in front of an audience that includes his long-term partner Ronnie Barker. Celebrity fans include everyone from Frank Skinner and David Baddiel to Melanie Sykes and Lynda Bellingham.

Click for larger image Another Audience with Ken Dodd
Click for larger image Speed forward to 2001, and superstar Ken Dodd wows the showbiz set with his second appearance in the series. What a fantastic comedian! This programme was repeated on LWT's final night, 27/10/02, probably because it showcases the production expertise and Kent House location that made the station world-famous.

Click for larger image Bruce Forsyth's Big Night
Click for larger image Michael Grade head-hunted Brucie from the BBC's Generation Game to front this two-hour chunk of Saturday night ITV. Big names were booked, including Bette Midler and Elton John, and The Glums was revived with Jimmy Edwards and Ian Lavender, but critics didn't like it and soon stuck the knife in. Probably because of all those repugnant dance numbers. This first edition includes a song written by Bruce, in which he extols the virtues of the ITV Network!

Click for larger image Clive James at the Movies
Click for larger image From 1972-1982, Clive James was The Observer's incisive and witty TV critic. A TV and movie review series was an ideal setting for him and LWT offered it herein. This November 1981 edition romps through dodgy B-movies like Plan Nine from Outer Space, Robot Monster, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Wild Women of Wonga. There is no title sequence as such. Most of Clive James's programmes at this time started with an attention-grabbing clip followed by a simple caption.

Click for larger image Clive James on Television
Click for larger image A review of bizarre TV shows and commercials from all over the world, which began in 1982. Clive James seemed to have a particular fondness for Asian TV and would often show clips from the Japanese game show Endurance, in which various contestants were subjected to painful challenges. The series continued for around fifteen years: Clive James until 1988, followed by Keith Flloyd for one series in 1989 and Chris Tarrant, who hosted until 1997. The series metarmorphosed into Tarrant on TV, also made by LWT/Granada, from 1998 to 2005.

Click for larger image The Clive James Screen Test
Click for larger image The original "Before They Were Famous", except that this is funny and boasts a genuinely witty host. As a one-hour special, unrepeated and not spun into sequels, it is a novelty rather than a re-hash. Clive James is at his peak with droll observations about Bonnie Langford, Liz Taylor, Joan Collins, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Tom Selleck, John Forsythe, Bryan Moseley, Betty Driver, Noel Gordon. You name 'em, this show's got a clip of 'em! Great stuff.

Click for larger image Hi Summer!
Click for larger image This travelling variety show ran across seven weekends in 1977. The sketches, topical comedy and musical numbers were recorded both in studio and on location. Leslie Crowther lead a cast that included Anna Dawson, Derek Waring, Derek Griffiths, Carl Wayne, Pearly Gates and Lena Zavaroni, fresh from her winning stint on Opportunity Knocks. Singer Marie Gordon Price was also a regular participant - and in this edition, themed around London, she joined Griffiths for an eyebrow-raising rendition of 'Melting Pot.' (17/07/77 - 04/09/77)

Click for larger image Holiday Startime
Click for larger image An hour-long Christmas variety show hosted by Maggie Fitzgibbon and with something for everyone - although the modern viewer is cautioned to watch it whilst under the influence. The cavalcade of guest names reads like a Who's Who of late-60s variety, from Les Dawson and Thora Hird to The Bee Gees and Reg Varney. Vincent Price gamely shows us how to get the best from our Christmas left-overs, but unfortunately the act is somewhat toe curling. It climaxes with surprise special guest Hattie Jacques, as a Christmas fairy, slapping a custard pie in his face.

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Click for larger image In Search of James Bond
Click for larger image To tie in with the huge revival of interest in James Bond, following the release of Goldeneye, this special was hosted by Jonathan Ross - modelling a hairstyle borrowed from David Ginola. All the Bond stars bar Connery were interviewed afresh (Connery featured in archive interviews) along with baddies Christopher Lee and Sean Bean, and numerous Bond girls. Produced by Mark Tinkler.