Like many people, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Sir Bruce Forsyth, 89, on Friday afternoon. I knew he hadn’t been too well, and that he had been absent from our screens for some time, but I never realised just how serious it was.
I grew up watching Bruce on TV, in his many games shows and stage appearances. He was the staple of my early viewing. I especially loved him in The Generation Game, which I always looked forward to every Saturday night way back in the 1970s. And when he revived it, many years later, in 1990, I was so excited to see one of my all time favourite game shows make such a spectacular, if comparatively short-lived, comeback. For me, Bruce Forsyth WAS The Generation Game, and even though Larry Grayson did a good job of it too when he took over the hosting from Brucie in the late 70s, I don’t think anybody did it quite as wonderfully and enjoyably as Bruce did.
Then there were other classic TV shows that Bruce went on to make after The Generation Game, like Bruce’s Big Night, Play Your Cards Right and The Price is Right. And of course we mustn’t forget his most recent success, Strictly Come Dancing, which has become just as phenomenally successful as The Generation Game was in its day. Again, just as he did in The Generation Game, Bruce never failed to deliver in every one of these TV shows. He was just the master when dealing with members of the public or interviewing big celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr. The man was such a consummate professional, and so very versatile. He was, truly, the ultimate entertainer. He could sing, dance, play the piano, crack jokes, and have you in absolute hysterics with his facial expressions (especially when a contestant made a hilarious blunder on The Generation Game, which always crease me up!). He was the King of variety and television for 75 years. That is some achievement.
What I especially loved about Bruce was that when he took the micky out of contestants, it was all done in a nice, inoffensive way. He laughed WITH his guests rather than at them. And I never once heard him swear in all the years I watched him on television (indeed, he even said himself that he hated bad language). Now THAT is a true hallmark of a proper family entertainer. Just like his fellow comedy legends such as Tommy Cooper and Morecambe and Wise, Bruce proved the undeniable axiom that you didn’t have to be crude and smutty to make people laugh.
In every TV and variety appearance that Bruce made, his genuine warmth, charisma and likeability always shone through, as powerfully and endearingly as the bright star he was. Then of course there were his famous catch phrases, like “Good game, good game”, “Didn’t He Do Well” and “I’m In Charge”. When you think of Sir Bruce Forsyth, you think that here was a man who just personified everything that was perfect in light entertainment.
There are so many superlatives I could utter about Sir Bruce Forsyth, and of course I know I am not alone in that sentiment. His tragic passing has left a big gap in the world of entertainment, and one which I doubt will ever be filled. He was one of his kind.
Sir Bruce, thank you so, so much for giving us all those many, many years of sheer entertainment and joy.
Didn’t he do well?