Home TV by Decade TV Shows - 1980s Big Show, The

Big Show, The

1 9 8 0 (USA)
11 x 90/120 minute episodes

An attempt by NBC to bring back the big, glitzy variety shows on prime-time network TV. It offered lavish sets, big budgets, major stars and a full 90 minutes (sometimes two hours) of entertainment every Tuesday between March and June 1980.

There was a regular company of resident comedians for sketches, a huge pool for water ballets, a giant rink for ice-skating numbers, and a pair of big-name guest co-hosts each week.

Steve Allen hosted on three occasions, and other hosts included Dean Martin, Tony Randall, Victor Borge, Gene Kelly, Flip Wilson, Barbara Eden, Marie Osmond, Loretta Swit, Shirley Jones, Gavin MacLeod, Don Rickles, Steve Lawrence, Dennis Weaver, Herve Villechaize, and Gary Coleman.

Singers Mel Tillis and Debby Boone made multiple guest appearances, as did comic Sid Caesar and ice skaters Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill.

Critics loved it, but although entertaining and well produced, the series just didn’t catch on and viewing audiences stuck with ABC’s Tuesday night comedies, leading to The Big Show‘s early demise.

Mimi Kennedy
Edie McClurg
Graham Chapman
Charlie Hill
Owen Sullivan
Joe Baker
Pamela Myers
Paul Grimm
Adolfo Quinones and Shabba-Doo
The Dick Williams Singers
The Tony Charmoli Dancers
The Big Show Water Ballet
The Big Show Ice Skaters
The Nick Perito Orchestra