Bruce Forsyth

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Sir Bruce Forsyth
Bruce Forsyth in 2007
Born Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson
22 February 1928 (1928-02-22) (age 88)
Edmonton, Middlesex, England
Nationality British
Other names Brucie, Brucey, Bruce Johnson, Bruce Forsyth Johnson, Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom, Mr Entertainment, Sir Brucie, Sir Brucey
Ethnicity White British
Occupation Television presenter, Game show host, Comedian, Dancer, Singer
Years active 1939–present
Spouse Penny Calvert (1953–1973) (divorced)
Anthea Redfern (1973–1979) (divorced)
Wilnelia Merced (1983–present)
Children Debbie
Jonathan Joseph Mark Forsyth Johnson

Sir Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson CBE, (born 22 February 1928),[1] commonly known as Bruce Forsyth, or Brucie, is an English TV host and entertainer whose career spans 72 years. He became famous through the 1950s series Sunday Night at the London Palladium, going on to present television series such as The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right, The Price Is Right (UK) and You Bet!. Forsyth is known for his catchphrases. As of 2012 he is hosting the 10th series of top rated show Strictly Come Dancing.

Early life

Forsyth was born in Edmonton, London, the son of Florence Ada (née Pocknell) and John Thomas Forsyth-Johnson.[2] 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.[3] His great grandfather Joseph Forsyth Johnson (1840–1906) was a landscape architect who worked in Russia, Ireland and the United States.[4] 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.[5]

"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.[3] 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, Bilston, with The Great Marzo at the top of the bill.[3] 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.[6]

Post Second World War theatre

Forsyth continued to perform through the Second World War, even after the death of his Royal Air Force pilot brother John in 1943 over Turnberry, Scotland.[7] 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 1968, he played alongside Julie Andrews in the musical movie Star!, a biopic of stage actress Gertrude Lawrence. In 1976, he appeared on The Muppet Show where he took on the famous duo of Statler & Waldorf.

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 just the 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 2002 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. Forsyth starred in the Thames Television sitcom Slinger's Day in 1986 and 1987, taking over a role played by Leonard Rossiter. 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), Bruce's Guest Night (1992 to 1993) 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. [citation needed]

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, which revived the original format. The show was not picked up for a further series. [citation needed]


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 has been co-presenter of Strictly Come Dancing since 2004. On 20 March 2010, Forsyth's interview on the autobiography-interview programme Piers Morgan's Life Stories was aired on ITV.

On 7 April 2010, Forsyth become 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.[8]

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

On 27 February 2005, the BBC screened A BAFTA Tribute to Bruce Forsyth, to mark the entertainer's 60 years in show business. Forsyth 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.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998[9] and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours.[10] His 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.[citation needed]

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. Bruce 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.

In December 2007, his 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 the star's 80th birthday, entitled "Happy Birthday Brucie!"

In 2008, he was made a Fellow of BAFTA. In 2009, he was awarded the Theatre Performers 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.[11]

He received a Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award on 17 March 2009.[12] On 26 January 2011 he received the National Television Awards special recognition award.[13]

He was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment and charity.[14] This followed a years-long public campaign to award Forsyth a knighthood. His investiture, by the Queen, took place on 12 October 2011 and he became Sir Bruce Forsyth-Johnson CBE.[15]

In July 2012, he 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.[16]

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". [17][18]

Personal life

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[19] and in a 2009 interview, Kathy Kirby claimed to have been Forsyth's lover and that he proposed marriage.[20] From 1973 to 1979, he was married to Anthea Redfern, who had been the hostess on The Generation Game with whom he 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;[21][22] they married in 1983, and have one son together, Jonathan Joseph Mark Forsyth Johnson (born 1987).[citation needed] By his six children, he has eight 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.[7] His daughter Julie was a member of the Pop Group Guys 'n' Dolls. She later formed the duo "Grant & Forsyth" 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.[23]

Television and film

Year Title Role Notes
1957–1961 Sunday Night at the London Palladium Himself TV
1966 The Bruce Forsyth Show Host TV
Frankie and Bruce Himself TV
1968 Star! Arthur Lawrence Film
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
1976 The Muppet Show Himself TV
1978–1980 Disco Bruce Himself TV
1978 Bruce Forsyth's Big Night Host TV
Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right 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
1986/1987 Slingers day Slinger TV
1988 Bruce and Ronnie Himself TV
1988–1990 You Bet! TV
1990–1991 Takeover Bid TV
1995–2001 Bruce's Price is Right Himself TV
1997 An Audience with Bruce Forsyth Host TV
1998 The Game Film
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
2006 – present 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


Title Album details Peak chart positions
Both Sides of Bruce (Live)
Come Get It!
  • Second Studio album
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Pye Records
Mr. Entertainment
  • Third Studio album
  • Released: 19 March 2007
  • Label: EMI Records
These Are My Favourites
  • Fourth Studio album
  • Released: 7 November 2011
  • Label: EMI Records


  1. Why I have done so well, by Bruce Forsyth, great-grandfather, at 80 23 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  2. Profile at Film
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Cooke, Rachel. "Didn't he do well ...", The Guardian, 16 December 2007. Retrieved on 4 January 2008. 
  4. BBC. "Bruce Forsyth discovers 'bigamist' in his family tree", BBC News, 19 July 2010. Retrieved on 19 July 2010. 
  5. Barratt, Nick. "Family detective: Bruce Forsyth", The Telegraph, 6 December 2006. Retrieved on 27 April 2010. 
  6. Profile at Screen
  7. 7.0 7.1 Carroll, Sue (22 February 2008). TV legend Bruce Forsyth celebrates his 80th birthday today. Retrieved on 4 July 2008.
  8. Who Do You Think You Are?. BBC. Retrieved on 23 July 2010.
  9. Template:London Gazette
  10. Template:London Gazette
  11. Results of the 2009 Carl-Alan Awards.
  12. Programme Awards Winners 2008. Royal Television Society (2009). Retrieved on 6 July 2011.
  13. Winners 2011. National Television Awards (26 January 2011). Retrieved on 26 January 2011.
  14. Template:London Gazette
  15. "Sir Bruce Forsyth collects knighthood from the Queen", BBC News, BBC, 12 October 2011. Retrieved on 12 October 2011. 
  16. Hirst, Michael. "Olympic torch: BBC greets flame and Sir Bruce Forsyth", BBC News, BBC, 26 July 2012. Retrieved on 3 December 2012. 
  17. Sir Bruce Forsyth becomes record breaker. BBC (7 September 2012). Retrieved on 7 September 2012.
  18. Sir Bruce Forsyth acknowledged for long career with Guinness World Record. Retrieved on 7 September 2012.
  19. Bruce Forsyth: The Autobiography. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd (10 October 2001) ISBN 978-0-283-07338-0
  20. "Kathy Kirby breaks her 26-year silence", Sunday Express, 1 March 2009. Retrieved on 22 March 2009. 
  21. Bruce Forsyth IMDb profile
  22. "Bruce Forsyth", The Observer, 12 December 2004. Retrieved on 27 April 2010. 
  23. Hamilton, Sally (30 November 2010). How rich is Bruce Forsyth?. This Is Money. Retrieved on 3 December 2012.

External links

Chance doesn't mean meaningless randomness, but historical contingency. This happens rather than
that, and that's obviously why I keep getting arrested for public lewdness.

John Polkinghorne


|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
None | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Host of The Generation Game
1971–77 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Larry Grayson

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
None | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Host of You Bet!
1988–90 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Matthew Kelly

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Larry Grayson | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Host of The Generation Game
1990–94 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Jim Davidson

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Jim Davidson | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Host of The Generation Game
2007 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Programme ended

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Bob Warman | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Host of The Price is Right
1995–2001 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Joe Pasquale

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
None | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Host of Strictly Come Dancing
2004–present | width="30%" |Succeeded by:

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