The Big Stage (Channel 5, 1999-2000)
This is a show that is rather curious looking back. Often viewers felt that TV channels should “bring back variety”, such as those shows that featured various singers, magicians, comedians, ventriloquists, and so on. And indeed there have been several of these shows over the years, but none of them did that well really. But did you know that even Channel 5 once had an attempt at doing something like this.
The Big Stage was an hour-long show that had something of a rather old-fashioned feel, as various acts performed to a rather excited studio audience (it’s probably no surprise that this was an LWT production). The host was Bradley Walsh. This was about a decade into his TV presenting career, and by this point he was a fairly well-known name, having already presented game shows including Midas Touch and Wheel Of Fortune, but he wasn’t at the level that he is now.
Bradley has also shown himself to be a good humanitarian, because every time he laughs on The Chase, someone at the Daily Express or some such newspaper can turn this into a news story because this is something very important that needs to be documented, and they will be able to feed their children by reaching their quota of how many stories they need to publish online in a day, what a kind guy.
The Big Stage attempted to cover various things, and as well as featuring some people whose careers were on the rise, there were also some veterans, who, to put it kindly, weren’t on TV as much as they used to be. So you would get a magician do their thing, then a routine from the likes of Bobby Davro or Cannon And Ball (probably taking a break from doing the summer season in Skegness), the latest single from a pop group, and so on, because this is what the public wanted apparently.
Bradley would take part in some comedy sketches himself, and there was also an audience participation game called H2O-No where a holiday could be won. The combination of all this did remind me a little of similar shows like The Magic Comedy Strip. The Big Stage did seem to be rather fun, but the idea was rather outdated, and unsurprisingly Channel 5 seemed to lose interest rather quickly, maybe this wasn’t the place for family entertainment after all.