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Viva Cabaret! (1993-94)

Courtesy of Channel Four Television

Main image of Viva Cabaret! (1993-94)
TV21 for Channel 4, 14/4/1993-24/6/1994
13 x 50 min editions in two series, colour
DirectorsDavid G. Hillier
 Julia Knowles
ProducersDave Morely
 Graham Smith
 Ivan Douglass

Hosts: Tom Jones, Julian Clary, Mark Lamarr, Mike McShane, Jools Holland, Mark Thomas, Eartha Kitt, Lily Savage, Lee Evans

Show full cast and credits

Contemporary-flavoured cabaret series with an alternative edge.

Show full synopsis

Demonstrating that variety still had a niche on British television in the 1990s, Viva Cabaret (sometimes written with a '!') was a brave attempt to bring a mix of alternative acts and more traditional fare onto the small screen, with Channel 4 feeling like its natural home in the light of the earlier Saturday Live / Friday Night Live (1986-87; 1988). It was filmed in a west London sound studio dressed to appear like a nightclub. The credit titles and club set suggest burlesque and the macabre, and in patches the series took on an edgy feel. But the studio audience, with some justification, often seem only lukewarm about some of the acts they are watching.

Sadly, perhaps, the show felt it had to justify its post-watershed slot with material that shifted from family entertainment towards something rather cruder, and it was subject to several complaints to the then broadcasting 'watchdog', the Broadcasting Standards Council, about the suitability of some material.

Across the two series some acts of major and international stature appeared (among them Eartha Kitt, Tom Jones, Barry Cryer and Lesley Garrett), mixed with acts from the alternative circuit and Comedy Store players. The regularity with which one or two acts appeared suggests the possibility that their sets were edited to fit into more than one show.

David Sharp

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Video Clips
1. Good Evening (2:00)
2. Keep buying the Sun (0:54)
3. In your own time (3:44)
4. In the Midnight Hour (3:12)
Complete 1994 episode (37:13)
Club X (1989)
Saturday Live / Friday Night Live (1985-88)
TV Variety