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Concert Venues :: Shepherds Bush Empire


Now Known As O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Date Opened 1903
Venue Capacity 2,000
Venue URL
Venue Address O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Shepherd's Bush Green
W12 8TT

Venue Information

The Shepherd's Bush Empire was built in 1903 for impresario Oswald Stoll, designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham. Ashly's Circus performed at Shepherd's Bush empire theatre and presented to George Strong a trophy for riding The Bucking Mule "Sloper' on 8 September 1905. 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.

During WW2 the Shepherds Bush Empire narrowly escaped being hit by a flying bomb, which in 1944 hit the neighbouring Shepherd's Bush Pavilion, destroying the original interior. The Pavilion did not re-open until 1955.

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, Spike Milligan, Dusty Springfield, 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 again, this time in 1993 by the entrepreneur Andrew Mahler, who invested over 1m in the building in improvements and refurbishments. In 1994 the building re-opened and again became the Shepherds Bush Empire. Since then, it has become best known as a music venue.

Venue Photos

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