Sir Bruce Forsyth, the veteran entertainer and presenter, has died age 89. He had been suffering from illness for some time and had been in and out of hospital over the last year – something he alluded to in classic good humour by reportedly saying ‘I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!’ Many people, young and old, will be saddened by his passing as this national treasure has entertained viewers for decades in classic shows like ‘The Generation Game’, ‘Play Your Cards Right’ and since 2004 ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
He died peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife of 34 years, Wilnelia Merced, and his children after contracting bronchial pneumonia. Many tributes have been shared on social media from high profile names, including those that worked with him over the years. Tess Daly said she was “heartbroken” and would “never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain the audiences he so loved”.
Originally a struggling variety performer, Forsyth, who was born in 1928, first came to prominence in the mid 1950’s when he appeared on the series Sunday Night at the London Palladium. By many he will be remembered as not only the host but the face and soul of ‘The Generation Game’, a BBC Saturday night staple and the number one gameshow on television in the 70’s. He returned to the show from 1990 to 1995 and was also famous for ‘Play Your Cards Right’ which he presented in the 80’s and late 90’s and ‘The Price is Right’ from 1995 to 2001, as well as a number of unsuccessful gameshows.
Most millennials though will know him from the hugely popular dance contest ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. The sequin covered BBC show which has cemented its place in British popular culture revived his slightly waning career and gave him a new audience. He carried over many of his famous catchphrases such as ‘Nice to see you, to see you…nice’ from previous roles to present the show with co-host Daly. Always relied upon for jokes and moral support, he would often tell contestants that they were ‘his favourites’.
Forsyth left the show, which will return for its 15th series later this year, in 2014 in order to reduce his workload. He was knighted in 2011 for services to entertainment and charity following a campaign to award him a knighthood.
The man who will be remembered as much for his catchphrases and personality as the gameshows he presented, had the longest ever TV career of any male entertainer, with his first appearance being on the show ‘Come and Be Televised’ at the age of 11. He is arguably one of the last traditional British entertainers but he was certainly versatile and didn’t let his age stop him from reaching new heights. Sir Bruce Forsyth truly played the ‘Generation Game’ and won.
Words By Tim Goodfellow.