Sir Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson CBE (born 22 February 1928) is a British television presenter and entertainer whose career spans 75 years. In 2012, the Guinness World Records recognised Forsyth as having the longest television career for a male entertainer. Forsyth came to national attention from the mid-1950s through the ITV series Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Since then he has hosted series such as The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right, The Price Is Right and You Bet! He co-presented Strictly Come Dancing from 2004 to 2013. Forsyth is known for his catchphrase, "Nice to see you, to see you nice".
Forsyth was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, the son of Florence Ada (née Pocknell) and John Thomas Forsyth-Johnson. His family owned a car repair garage in Victoria Road, Edmonton, and as members of the Salvation Army his parents played brass instruments and his mother was a singer. His great-grandfather Joseph Forsyth Johnson (1840–1906) was a landscape architect who worked in Russia, Ireland and the United States. His great-great-great-great-grandfather William Forsyth (1737–1804) was a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society and the namesake of the plant genus Forsythia.
"Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom"
Forsyth attended the Latymer School. After watching Fred Astaire in films at age eight, he trained in dance in Tottenham and then Brixton. He started in show business aged 14, with a song, dance, and accordion act called "Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom." His first appearance was at the Theatre Royal in Bilston, with The Great Marzo at the top of the bill. Forsyth made his television debut in 1939 as a child, singing and dancing on a talent show introduced by Jasmine Bligh, probably an episode of Come and Be Televised (BBC, 1939), broadcast from Radiolympia. Forsyth continued to perform through the Second World War, during which his brother John, a pilot in the Royal Air Force, was killed in 1943, during a training exercise, at Turnberry, Scotland.
After the war, with the goal of joining Moss Empires theatres, he spent years on stage with little success and travelled the UK working seven days a week, doing summer seasons, pantomimes and circuses, where he became renowned for his strong-man act.
In 1958 an appearance with the comedian Dickie Henderson led to his being offered the job of compère of Val Parnell's weekly TV variety show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He hosted the show for two years, followed by a year's break, then returned for another year. His schedule of stage performances, which continued throughout the 1960s, forced him to give up the job of host.
In January 1968 Pye Records issued as a single "I'm Backing Britain", supporting the campaign of the same name, written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, and sung by Forsyth. The chorus included "The feeling is growing, so let's keep it going, the good times are blowing our way". All involved in making the single took cuts in their fees or royalties so that the single sold for 5s. instead of the going rate of 7s. 4½d. Forsyth happily endorsed the campaign, saying "The country has always done its best when it is up against the wall. If everyone realises what we are up against we can get out of trouble easily." However, the song did not make the charts; it sold only 7,319 copies.
Game show host
During his spell of hosting Sunday Night at the London Palladium as part of the show he hosted the 15-minute game show "Beat the Clock". Forsyth's next success was Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game (BBC1, 1971–1977, 1990–1994) which proved popular and attracted huge Saturday evening audiences. It was on this show that Forsyth introduced his "The Thinker" pose, emulating Rodin's sculpture, appearing in silhouette each week after the opening titles. This pose is reminiscent of the circus strong-man attitude. He also wrote and sang the theme for the show "Life is the Name of the Game."
He left the BBC in 1978 to present Bruce Forsyth's Big Night, which was also transmitted on Saturday evening, but on rival broadcaster ITV. However, the show was not a success and lasted for just one series. He was replaced on The Generation Game by Larry Grayson. Forsyth remained with ITV, hosting the game show Play Your Cards Right, which was the UK version of the US original Card Sharks (1980–87, 1994–99 and a brief period in 2001 before the show was cancelled due to low ratings). In 1986, he went to the United States to host a game show on ABC, Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak, which ran for 65 episodes from January to April that year. Shortly after, Forsyth was considered by Mark Goodson to be a candidate for hosting the revival of Card Sharks; ultimately the jobs went to Bob Eubanks (for the daytime version that aired on CBS), and Bill Rafferty (who hosted the nighttime syndicated version). Forsyth starred in the Thames Television sitcom Slinger's Day in 1986 and 1987, a sequel to Tripper's Day which had starred Leonard Rossiter, whom Forsyth replaced in the new show. His television appearances since the 1960s have included variety, comedy and light entertainment shows.
He was the original host of You Bet! (1988 to 1990) before the show reached mainstream success under the stewardship of Matthew Kelly. Forsyth fronted the third version of The Price Is Right (1995 to 2001). Forsyth's unsuccessful gameshows include Takeover Bid (1990 to 1991), Hollywood Or Bust (1984) and Didn't They Do Well (2004). During the 1970s Bruce featured in the "Stork Margarine" adverts on television and then during the 1980s and 1990s he appeared in advertising for the furniture retailer Courts, in which he dressed as a judge.
Forsyth celebrated his 70th birthday in 1998 and appeared in a week-long run of his one-man show at the London Palladium, culminating in a 90-minute edition of Sunday Night at the London Palladium live on ITV. In 2000, Forsyth hosted a series called Tonight at the London Palladium.
In 2003, and again in 2010, Forsyth was a guest presenter on the news and satire quiz show, Have I Got News for You. During the first of these appearances, he presented a parody of his Play Your Cards Right format entitled Play Your Iraqi Cards Right. He co-presented Strictly Come Dancing from 2004 to 2013, formally stepping down from hosting the regular live show in April 2014. This decision was made to reduce his workload and for the preparation of pre-recorded specials.
On 7 April 2010, Forsyth became one of the first three celebrities to be subjected to the British version of the American institution of a comedy roast, on Channel 4's A Comedy Roast. Forsyth was the subject of the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, broadcast on 19 July 2010. On 20 March 2010, Forsyth appeared on the autobiography-interview programme Piers Morgan's Life Stories which was broadcast on ITV.
In 2011 Forsyth released a collection of songs on CD called These Are My Favourites. He chose the songs for their personal and musical importance, including a duet with his granddaughter, Sophie Purdie. These Are My Favourites also includes a recording of Paper Moon with Nat 'King' Cole.
Tributes and honours
Forsyth's showbiz awards include Variety Club Show Business Personality of the Year in 1975; TV Times Male TV Personality of the Year, in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978; and BBC TV Personality of the Year in 1991.
In 1987, a fan club was created – the Great Bruce Forsyth Social Club. They would later go on to assist Forsyth in singing his opening number, "It's Never Too Late", at his Audience With show. He repaid this favour by adding the society to his busy schedule in June 1997 and appeared at their 10th AGM in Plymouth and also mentioned them in his autobiography.
Forsyth was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours.
On 27 February 2005, the BBC screened A BAFTA Tribute to Bruce Forsyth to mark the entertainer's 60 years in show business. He had a bronze bust of himself unveiled at the London Palladium in May 2005. The sculpture was created by his son-in-law and is on display in the theatre's Cinderella Bar.
In December 2007, Forsyth's catchphrase, "Nice to see you, to see you, nice", was voted the most popular UK catchphrase by the British public. On 24 February 2008, the BBC featured an 85-minute programme, celebrating his 80th birthday, entitled Happy Birthday Brucie!
In 2008, Forsyth was made a Fellow of BAFTA. In 2009, he was awarded the Theatre Performer's Award at the annual Carl Alan Awards. Hosted by the International Dance Teachers' Association, the awards are voted for by the leading dance organisations in the United Kingdom and recognise those who have made an exceptional contribution to the world of dance and theatre.
Forsyth received a Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award on 17 March 2009. On 26 January 2011 he received the National Television Awards special recognition award.
Forsyth was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment and charity. This followed a years-long public campaign to award him a knighthood. His investiture, by the Queen, took place on 12 October 2011 and he became Sir Bruce Forsyth CBE.
In July 2012, Forsyth was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flame through London, as it finally reached the city on the penultimate day of the London 2012 Torch Relay.
Forsyth earned a place in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records as the male TV entertainer having had the longest career, calling it a "wonderful surprise".
Forsyth also appeared at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival on the Avalon stage, becoming one of the oldest performers to ever play at the festival.
From 1953 to 1973, Forsyth was married to Penny Calvert, with whom he had three daughters: Debbie, Julie and Laura. According to his autobiography, he dated Miss World 1964, Ann Sidney, during her reign and in a 2009 interview, Kathy Kirby claimed that she had been Forsyth's lover and that he had proposed marriage. From 1973 to 1979, he was married to Anthea Redfern, the hostess on The Generation Game; they had two daughters, Charlotte and Louisa. Asked to judge the 1980 Miss World competition, he fell in love with fellow judge, the 1975 Miss World, Wilnelia Merced from Puerto Rico; they married in 1983, and have one son together. By his six children, he has nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Due to his love of golf, his main residence is at the Wentworth Estate adjacent to the Wentworth Golf Course near Virginia Water in northwest Surrey. A childhood supporter of Arsenal, when the team's stadium was taken for air-defence searchlights during the Second World War, matches were played at Tottenham Hotspur's White Hart Lane ground, so he became a supporter of both clubs. His daughter Julie was a member of the pop group Guys 'n' Dolls. She later formed the duo " " with her husband Dominic Grant who had also been a member of Guys 'n' Dolls.
Forsyth has his own company, Bruce Forsyth Enterprises Ltd, based in Surrey, to run his day to day monetary affairs.
Forsyth is an avid supporter and ambassador for the children's charity, Caudwell Children, regularly appearing at many of their high profile fund raising events.
Television and film
|1957–1961||Sunday Night at the London Palladium||Himself||TV|
|1965–1973||The Bruce Forsyth Show||Host||TV|
|Frankie and Bruce||Himself||TV|
|1969||Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?||Uncle Limelight|
|1969||Red Peppers||George Pepper||TV|
|1971||Bedknobs and Broomsticks||Swinburne, Bookman's henchman||Film|
|1971||The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins||Avarice Segment|
|Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game||Host||TV|
|1974||"Bruce Forsyth Meets Lulu" - A special holiday get-together of two entertainers looking at each other's background, styles and daydreams in a programme of song, dance and comedy||Host||TV|
|1976||The Muppet Show||Himself||TV|
|1978||Bruce Forsyth's Big Night||Host||TV|
|Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right||Host||TV|
|1984||Hollywood or Bust||Host||TV|
|1986||Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak||Host||TV|
|1986||Magnum, P.I.: A Little Bit of Luck...A Little Bit of Grief||TV|
|1988||Bruce and Ronnie||Himself||TV|
|1995–2001||Bruce's Price is Right||Himself||TV|
|1997||An Audience with Bruce Forsyth||Host||TV|
|2000||Tonight at the London Palladium||Himself||TV|
|2003||Have I Got News for You||Guest Host||TV|
|2003||Bruce Forsyth Host||Himself||DVD / Guest appearance on Have I Got News for You DVD|
|2004||Didn't They Do Well!||Host||TV|
|Strictly Come Dancing||Host||TV|
|2007||The Generation Game: Then Again||Host||TV|
|2010||Have I Got News for You||Guest Host||TV|
|2010||Who Do You Think You Are?||Guest Appearance||TV|
|2011||The Rob Brydon Show||Guest||TV|
|2012||National Television Awards||Guest (With Ant & Dec)||TV|
|2013||Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway||Guest (Little Ant & Dec section)||TV|
|2013||When Miranda Met Bruce||Guest||TV|
|2014||The Michael McIntyre Chat Show||Guest||TV|
|2014||The Paul O'Grady Show||Guest||TV|
|2014||Alan Carr: Chatty Man||Guest||TV|
|2014||Bruce's Hall of Fame||Host||TV|
- 1959, "I'm In Charge" b/w "So Far So Good", Parlophone: R 4535
- 1960, "I'm A Good Boy" b/w "My Little Budgie", Parlophone: R 4620
- 1960, "It's Spring Again" b/w "Wave Your Little Handkerchief", Parlophone R 4637
- 1962, "I Like People" b/w "The Oh-Be-Joyfuls", Piccadilly Records: 7N.38086
- 1964, "Real Live Girl" b/w "Deep Down Inside", Pye Records: 7N 15744
- 1965, "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" b/w "Don't Say Goodbye", Pye Records: 7N 15879
- 1968, "I'm Backing Britain" b/w "There's Not Enough Love In The World", Pye Records: 7N 17460
- 1973, "Didn't He Do Well" b/w "Life Is The Name Of The Game", Philips Records: 6006 285
- 1978, "Love Medley" (with Valerie Walsh), CBS Records: S CBS 6469
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|The Musical Side Of Bruce||
|Both Sides of Bruce (Live)||
|Come Get It!||
|These Are My Favourites||