Sir Bruce Forsyth dies aged 89

Sir Bruce Forsyth

Veteran British entertainer and presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89.

Sir Bruce was born the son of a garage owner in Edmonton, north London in 1928 and first appeared on TV aged 11.

At just 14-years-old he made his debut as The Mighty Atom, which was a solo song and dance act, but his big break came in 1958 aged 30, when he joined ITV’s Night At The Palladium. He went on to host a number of family favourite shows such as Play Your Card’s Right, The Price Is Right and You Bet!, and The Generation Game.

He was famous for his catchphrases, “Nice to see you, to see you nice” and “Didn’t he/she/they do well?”.

In 1998, Bruce was given and OBE and then went on to receive a knighthood in 2011.

The Guinness World Records officially recognised Forsyth as having the longest television career for a male entertainer in 2012.

A statement from his manager Ian Wilson said he died “peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children”.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last 18 months. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, ‘I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!’

Sir Bruce’s family thanked “the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness”, adding there would be no further comment at the moment.

Tributes have been paid by his friends and admirers in the showbusiness world. Sir Bruce’s Strictly co-host Tess Daly said she was “heartbroken”.

“From the moment we met, Bruce and I did nothing but laugh our way through a decade of working together on Strictly Come Dancing and I will never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain the audiences he so loved,” she said.

Former Strictly judge Len Goodman also paid tribute, saying: “As long as I can remember there has always been Bruce on our TV.

“His work ethic, professionalism and charm will be with me forever. Bruce it was nice to see you to see you nice.”

“The Bruce you saw really was the man he was. We’ll miss him so much,” she added in a follow up Tweet.

“Extremely sad to hear the news of Bruce’s passing. A true legend and national treasure. He will be deeply missed but always remembered.”

– Strictly Judge, Craig Revel Horwood

BBC director general Lord Hall described Sir Bruce as “one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known”.

Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck added: “He could do it all. He was magnificent and he was a great entertainer. He could dance, he was a very nice pianist, he was good at sketches, he was the greatest moaner in the world on the golf course, and he was a unique friend to me.”

Legendary chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson described the entertainer as “funny” and “irrepressible”, praising Sir Bruce’s ability to manage his career, saying.

“He was very canny – we only know about the shows he said yes to, what we don’t know are the hundreds of ideas he said, ‘That’s not for me.’ He had the smartness – that’s the sign of a great star,” Sir Michael added.

The Beano tweeted a picture of Sir Bruce which appeared in the comic in 2008, describing him as an “entertainment legend”.

Sir Bruce never forgot his fans, and in 2014 he even recorded a birthday message for a Kenyan Strictly Come Dancing viewer.

Earlier this year he spent some time in hospital following a severe chest infection. He had not been seen in public recently, due to ill health and was too frail to attend the funerals of close friends Ronnie Corbett and Sir Terry Wogan last year.

In 2015, the presenter underwent keyhole surgery after suffering two aneurysms, which were discovered following a fall at his Surrey home.

The television legend is survived by his wife Lady Wilnelia Forsyth and six children – daughters Debbie, Julie and Laura, from his first marriage to Penny Calvert; Charlotte and Louisa with his second wife Anthea Redfern, and his son Jonathan with Wilnelia.

He also had nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.