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The O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (the first word is sometimes spelled Shepherd's) is a music venue in Shepherd's Bushmarker, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulhammarker, run by the Academy Music Group. It was built in 1903, as a music hall, and in 1953 became the BBC Television Theatre. Since 1991, it has operated as a music venue.

History

It was built in 1903 for impresario Oswald Stoll, designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham. 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.

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, 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 and, in 1994, again became the Shepherds Bush Empire.

Since then, it has become best known as a music venue and has hosted such acts as Fightstar, Patrick Wolf, Iron Maiden, The Corrs, Tool, Blur, The Feeling, The Hoosiers, Kylie Minogue, Immortal Technique, Stroke Machine, Son Of Dork, The Wildhearts, Opeth, The Buzzcocks, D-A-D, Kaiser Chiefs, Radiohead, Florence and the Machine, The Rileys and The Derek Trucks Band. In the dance music community it is also known to host raves and hard dance events, such as Frantic or Heat. The Empire has a capacity of only 2,000, but it has been chosen as a venue for small gigs by such leading performers as Neil Finn,Thunder, David Bowie, Phish, Erasure, Elton John, Smashing Pumpkins, The Rolling Stones and hometown heroes, The Who. In retrospect the most talked about show to take place there happened on March 10, 2003, when Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines made her famously controversial remark against United Statesmarker President George W. Bush.

References

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