Dramatic spectacle has gripped - even shocked - audiences at London's Earls Court and Olympia since the cowboy thrills of Buffalo Bill and Roman chariot races first attracted crowds in 1886. The famous venues' exhibitions and special occasions from Royal Tournaments to "Grand Opera" have enthralled millions, while trade shows bring the world to the capital. But how did it all start? Who pioneered these hugely ambitious centres? How did the showmen and impresarios stage enormous and costly productions which would be unrepeatable now? What of the performers and audiences? In those early days the safety bicycle was still a novelty, electric light a matter for wonderment, and reaching for the skies amounted to a balloon, a basket and a bag of sand. Earls Court and Olympia have a long and remarkable history through all the years of changing fashion in entertainment and the world at large. The applause, laughter and music of a thousand shows hang indefinably in their cavernous and rarely silent air. This is a story of crowds and colour, enterprise, courage - and disaster.