Irish World contributor Michael McDonagh, an old hand in the light entertainment game, remembers an even older, and bigger hand, Sir Bruce Forsyth with fondness.
Two week-ends ago we heard the sad news that the much loved King of TV Entertainment had finally left the stage. Bruce Forsyth, who epitomised the Golden Years of Television entertainment, had died aged 89 after dominating our screens for over 70 years. Indeed, he got into the Guinness Book Of Records in 2012 for having the ‘longest television career for a male entertainer’, a remarkable achievement.
I used to bump into, and chat to, Bruce in the 1980s in the building in which I rented an office from his management. It’s now the Apple Store on Regent Street.
He was one of those very rare show business characters who was exactly the same behind the scenes as he was when performing in public. There never seemed anything false about Bruce, a working class boy from Edmonton North London.
He was always polite with impeccable old-school-gentleman manners and I always found him charming and funny. That of course was his secret.
When he was on stage or in a TV studio performing to a much wider TV audience – let us not forget at one time he was capable of pulling in a staggering 20 million viewers – he engaged with people by the force of his personality, honesty and charm.
Even when taking the Mickey and getting laughs at the expense of a contestant on a quiz show he was never cruel or patronising so he always made them feel relaxed and at home enjoying the fun.
Bruce came from a show business era that has now gone with his death but for most of his 75 years on our screens he was at the top of his game. By hosting so many popular variety and quiz shows, delighting audiences that had grown up with his lanky looks and antics he was a fixture of family TV viewing on Saturday or Sunday nights.
He energetically entertained audiences that were always with him and his catch phrases as he seemed so relaxed in himself, being so completely at home on a stage.