Didn't He Do Well? Fond Memories of Sir Bruce Forsyth
The Legend that was Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Bruce Forsyth was unquestionably a TV legend. He died on the 18th of August aged 89, after 75 years in the television industry and having set a world record for the longest ever TV career. He was a familiar face on our TV screens until 2014, a great entertainer, he spanned the generations. There are few TV personalities who have been so consistently successful and appealing to all age groups – and whose career spanned the whole television era.
His appetite for show business was wetted aged 8 after watching his first Fred Astaire film, ‘Top Hat’ – apparently he was found tap dancing on the roof after this viewing at his local cinema, and continued to practise at home, taking up the lino to tap on the hard floor after school. In 1939 he made his first TV appearance, just before the start of World War Two, in a show called ‘Come And Be Televised’, a modern day ‘X Factor’. He delighted the host Jasmine Bligh with his song and dance routine and when asked about his ambition in life replied “I want to be a famous dancer like Fred Astaire and buy my mother a fur coat.” His first stage debut came at 14 at a local theatre; he continued to work throughout World War Two where any kind entertainment was encouraged, providing escapism from the horrors of war, and for the next 16 years in local theatres and church halls across the country.
In 1958 his big television break came – he was offered the role of compere on ‘Sunday Night at The London Palladium’. Many a youngster would plead with their parents to be allowed to stay up ‘late’ and see the show which capture the minds and hearts of a generation. I remember myself watching Beat the Clock and the silly games that, if it wasn’t for Sir Bruce would probably of seemed inane. A true showman who knew how to engage his audience was discovered! In the 1970s, he became and extremely popular game show host fronting ‘The Generation Game’ in 1971 which would make him a household name, and in the 1980s, ‘Play Your Cards Right’, followed by ‘You Bet’ and ‘The Price is Right’ which ran until 2001.
In 2004 he returned to BBC Saturday night television to host ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – the show for which he will be most recently remembered. He worked on the show for 11 seasons and in 2012 entered the Guinness Book for Records for having the longest running career as a male TV presenter, his career at that point spanning 72 years.
The world of showbiz has lost a true star. One of entertainments great and rare all-rounders – singer, dancer, presenter, comedian and musician – he will be remembered fondly.