“Didn’t He Do Well?” RIP Sir Bruce

Sir Bruce Forsyth side pose famous thinker pose

 

I should probably have entitled this ‘The impossible blog post’.

I mean, how do I write about one of the most loved longstanding respected personalities of British entertainment?  Is it even possible to come up with something that does Sir Bruce Forsyth enough justice?* I sat down just two hours after the sad news of his passing and tried for ages to write something…anything…but the words just got stuck somewhere inside me, my sadness was so immense.

The older I get, the younger the ages seem.  I know he went at ‘a good age’ but he was so incredibly fit and light on his feet well into his 80’s that frankly…

 

89 or not, I wasn’t ready to write about Sir Bruce in this way.

As I’ve said before about the departure of these icons, it feels like a little piece of my life is taken from me each time.

Strange as it sounds, last year…that awful year of loss…I crossed my fingers again and again hoping that this humble man would not join the list of legends to leave us.

Or ever. Not Brucie.

After my lifetime favourites Sir Terry Wogan (whom I had the pleasure to meet) and Ronnie Corbett passed away, I was on red alert. I can honestly say THIS was the one I kept fearing. I felt the same way I had described when David Bowie died.

There is something about Sir Bruce Forsyth’s death that is particularly sad and poignant.  I can’t help drawing an analogy with Big Ben’s famous bell which is about to stop chiming for a set period. Sir Bruce going…

 

It Is like the Big Ben of British TV has fallen silent forever.

He truly was one of the last – if not actually the last – bastions of UK entertainment. Michael Parkinson said he was the last survivor of the Vaudeville era and that skill has all died with him.

The terms national treasure and legend can be overused. But I think he deserves such status after decades of ‘appearing in our living rooms’.

I had no idea it had been 75 years earning him a world record as the longest-serving TV entertainer… Or that he’d performed at Glastonbury – and was in fact the oldest person to do so – just a few years ago… Or that Michael Parkinson had danced with him! There are some more fab facts about him in this Metro article.

Frankly, I’m hoping that no sinister facts come to light and am saying my prayers that no dark past is unearthed about this icon after the horrendous scandals that have been uncovered about many of his peers.

I think ultimately, whether a conscious feeling or not, as viewers we felt a sense of confidence that watching a show hosted by Bruce Forsyth meant we were in good hands.

There was a certain standard that would be assured.  He made everything he did look effortless even though being a prime time TV host is anything but easy.

Even Parky says so:

What made him great was his impeccable workrate and his determination not to ease into anything, to approach every show as if it were his first. I remember watching him thinking, you crafty old sod, you make it look so easy.

Forsyth wasn’t a warm cuddly ‘uncle’-like character like his good friends, the aforementioned Wogan and Corbett. There was an edginess to him; yet instead of this working against him, it did the opposite and was one of his calling cards. For me personally, he came across as an absolute master of what he did.

 

Sadly I missed out on the ‘Strictly’ years as I only managed to watch it for a brief period from Malta but there are so many other wonderful things I remember.

The withering look he’d give the audience and his guests.

The mocking (but never cruel) tone he’d use to tease his contestants.

My total surprise realising he actually danced…and danced superbly!

The hysterically funny antics of his brave Generation Game contestants that I howled over whilst scoffing rare homemade fairycakes on the occasional Saturday evenings my mum was actually home and not working at our shop.

Saturday nights at university shouting at the TV screen during Play Your Cards Right which he hosted for a staggering 14 years!

Being enthralled by how his now ex-wife Anthea would ‘give us a twirl’, when she was co-hostess, in the different dresses she’d wear for each show.

That conveyer belt…  Ask most Brits of a certain age about the ‘cuddly toy, the electric kettle and the conveyor belt’ and they’ll instantly know what you’re talking about!

And last but not least, his catchphrases. I’ve been amazed at how many I remember such as “Good game good game” “Higher higher, lower lower!” “You get nothing for a pair. Not in this game!” “Didn’t he/she/they do well?” and the immortal “Nice to see you, to see you nice”.

 
Sir Bruce Forsyth in tuxedo against black background, smiling

 

So many greats…TOO many greats have gone.

But now Brucie’s left us, it literally is game over.

Didn’t he do well?

Nice to have seen you, to have seen you nice, Sir Bruce.

 

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