Presenter Bradley Walsh has brushed off claims that he ‘ripped off’ a classic Michael Barrymore routine on Tonight at the London Palladium – and says that he did it to pay tribute to the TV entertainer.
After Walsh and his Palladium dancers performed their own choreographed clapping routine on the new ITV series, viewers accused Walsh on Twitter of copying Barrymore’s act.
But Walsh claims that Barrymore’s comment was “tongue in cheek”.
In fact, the new presenter has more connection to the old routine than most: not only was his wife Donna Derby one of Barrymore’s dancers in the original 1994 performance, Walsh himself shared the billing when it was performed.
Furthermore, Walsh says the plan was never to pass off the routine as his own. The ITV show even brought back the old crew for this reimagining.
“Having watched Michael do that routine I have always wanted to do it, so much so that we brought back the original choreographer of Michael’s routine, a guy called Alan Harding to do that for us,” Walsh explained.
“It’s an homage to those types of entertainers. Michael Barrymore is one of Britain’s greatest entertainers and entertainers like Michael aren’t on television anymore, or they’re not bred to be on television anymore, and that’s the problem. This is where we are trying to keep this going.
“There are a lot of people out there who’d never seen the routine before and it’s the most fantastic routine, it truly is,” Walsh continued. “To be able to do it and nail it like that, I’m very proud and I know Michael would have said that tongue in cheek. It was a pure, pure homage to all of those types of entertainment. Because a routine is similar to another one, that’s the way it is.”
The host is amused by the selective criticism of viewers, too.
“Andrea Bocelli came on our show and he sang Music of the Night from Phantom. So, does anyone say to Andrea Bocelli, well you’ve just taken Michael Crawford’s song? No, no they don’t. What it is, we’re trying to bring entertainment back as it should be.”
And in actual fact, the routine was originally created by director and choreographer Tommy Tune for The Will Rogers Follies on Broadway, seen here performing it as part of the 1991 Tony Awards.
As for hosting at the Palladium, Walsh is having a ball.
“People are starved of proper, proper entertainment. There’s only so many cakes you can watch being baked. There are only so many reality stars you can watch shouting and screaming at each other in houses. This is proper full-blown entertainment.