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Bruce Joseph Forsyth Johnson, CBE (born 22 February 1928), known as Bruce Forsyth, is a Britishmarker showman and entertainer. He became well-known through the series Sunday Night at the London Palladium, and became a household name in the UK, going on to present television series such as The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right, The Price Is Right and Strictly Come Dancing.

Life and career

Early life

Forsyth was born in Edmontonmarker, North Londonmarker, 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 Schoolmarker. After watching Fred Astaire in films at age eight, he trained in dance in Tottenhammarker and then Brixtonmarker. 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, Bilstonmarker, 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.

Post WW2 theatre

Forsyth continued to perform through World War II, even after the death of his Royal Air Force pilot brother John in 1943 over 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.

Forsyth became a celebrity in September 1958 when 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 hectic schedule of stage performances, which continued throughout the 1960s, forced him to give up the job of host.

In 1968, he played alongside Beryl Reid and 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.

Gameshow host

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 before the show. 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 hit BBC show in 1978 to present Bruce Forsyth's Big Night, which also transmitted on Saturday evening, but on rival channel ITV. However, the series was not a success and lasted just the one series. He was replaced on The Generation Game by Larry Grayson.

In 1986, he went to the United States to host a game show on ABC, Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak, which ran 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) and fronted the third version of The Price Is Right (1995 to 2001). Less known and comparatively unsuccessful shows include Takeover Bid (1990 to 1991), Hollywood Or Bust (1984), Bruce's Guest Night (1992 to 1993) and Bruce Forsyth's Big Night, a 1978 London Weekend Television extravaganza which is the only major flop of his TV career. During the 1980s and 1990s Forsyth 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 Palladiummarker, 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.

In 2003, Forsyth was a guest presenter on the news and satire quiz show, Have I Got News For You.

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 Palladiummarker 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 a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2006 New Year Honours list. 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.

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 awarded a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

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.

He received a Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award on 17 March 2009.

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 own autobiography, he dated Miss World 1964 Ann Sidney during her reign and in a 2009 interview, Kathy Kirby claimed to be Forsyth's lover and that he proposed marriage. 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; they married in 1983, and have one son together, Jonathan Joseph Forsyth.

Admired for his fitness, he does Tibetan stretches 30 minutes each day and keeps his strength up backstage with a flask of Complan with a dash of Sherry to keep that glow. Because of his love of golf, his main residence is at the Wentworth Estatemarker adjacent to golf coursemarker near Virginia Watermarker in northwest Surreymarker. A childhood supporter of Arsenal thanks to his father, as the searchlights were positioned at their Highburymarker football stadiummarker ground during World War Two and games moved Bruce to Tottenham Hotspur's White Hart Lanemarker ground, 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 "Grant & Forsyth" with her husband Dominic Grant who has also been a member of Guys n' Dolls.


Forsyth is known for a large number of catchphrases. Below is a list from TV shows. Words in italics are shouted by the audience in reply.
  • Beat The Clock
    • “I’m in charge!”
    • "Can you come back next week?" (to contestants unable to complete their game)
  • Generation Game:
    • “Nice to see you, to see you” – Nice!
    • “Give us a twirl” (to the show’s hostess as she walks on the set)
    • “Didn’t they do well?”
    • “Good game, good game”
    • “A cuddly toy!” – Aaw!
    • "Let's have a look at the old scoreboard:"
    • "What's on the board, Miss Ford?"
  • Strictly Come Dancing:
    • “Nice to see you, to see you” – Nice!
    • “I'll clear this place!
    • "That'll be the day!"
    • “You're my favourites!" (mostly to contestants who have received a negative response from judges)
    • “I am not doddery, doddery I am – Not!
    • “I’m in charge!”
    • “Give us a twirl”
    • “Keep dancing!” - with Tess Daly
  • Bruce’s Price Is Right:
    • "Remember, Bruce's price is always right" (sometimes modified with a winning contestant's name, e.g. "Remember, Bradley's price is always right")
    • "If the price is wrong, I wouldn't be singing this song"
  • Play Your Cards Right:
    • “What a lovely audience, so much better than last week!” (the joke being that the show would usually have been recorded after the previous week’s, with the same audience)
    • “I’m the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky jack, and here they are, they’re so appealing, come on Dollies, do your dealing!”
    • “I’m the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky jack, if you like things that come in pairs, take a look at my two croupiers!”
    • “I’m the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky jack, for openers here's a pair of cuties, my darling dealing beauties!”
    • “You don’t get anything for a pair” – Not in this game!
    • “You win a Brucie Bonus” – Wow!
    • “It could still be a big night if you play your cards right”
    • “Im a joker for a jest I play my cards close to my chest now heres a pair worth revealing go on dollys do your dealing!”
    • “Don’t touch the pack, we’ll be right back”
    • “Points make prizes – what do points make?” – Prizes! This catchphrase was parodied by Humphrey Lyttelton on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. In introductions to the round Pick Up Song, Lyttelton explained how points were scored, before using the catchphrase with something else substituted for "prizes". He then asked "What do points mean?", at which point the audience was usually split as to whether to reply with what Lyttelton had just said, or "Prizes!". No points were ever scored.
    • “Points mean pounds and what do pounds make?” - Rich People! A variant on previous catchphrase used in the 1990s revival of the show when the contestants played for money rather than prizes.
    • "We have our cards, all we need now are our players."
    • "Tough luck!"


Year Title Notes
1957 – 1961 Sunday Night at the London Palladium TV
1966 The Bruce Forsyth Show TV
Frankie and Bruce TV
1969 Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?
1971 Bedknobs and Broomsticks
1971 The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins Avarice Segment
1971 – 1977
1990 – 1994
Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game TV
1976 The Muppet Show TV
1978 – 1980 Disco Bruce TV
1978 Bruce Forsyth's Big Night TV
1980 – 1987
1994 – 1999
2002 – 2003

Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right TV
1986 Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak TV
1986 Magnum, P.I.: A Little Bit of Luck...A Little Bit of Grief TV
1988 Bruce and Ronnie TV
1989 – 1990 You Bet! TV
1995 – 2001 Bruce's Price is Right TV
1997 An Audience with Bruce Forsyth TV
1998 The Game TV
2000 Tonight at the London Palladium TV
2003 Have I Got News for You TV / Guest Appearance
2003 Bruce Forsyth & William Hague DVD / Guest Appearance on Have I Got News for You DVD
2004 – present Strictly Come Dancing TV
2007 The Generation Game: Then Again TV


  • Mr. Entertainment (2007 EMI Records, UK)

  • Both Sides of Bruce (Live) (1977 Warner Brothers Records, UK)

  • Come Get It! (1979 Pye, UK)


  1. Why I have done so well, by Bruce Forsyth, great-grandfather, at 80 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  3. Bruce Forsyth: The Autobiography. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd (10 Oct 2001)ISBN 978-0283073380
  4. Bruce Forsyth - Biography

External links

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