The BBC is reporting that Sir Bruce Forsyth has quit as the presenter of celebrity dance programme Strictly Come Dancing.

The 86-year-old entertainer has been host of Strictly since it premiered in 2004. No replacement has been announced.

Sir Bruce’s future on Strictly has been the subject of much debate in recent years and he missed a number of episodes in 2013 due to illness.

The BBC says that Sir Bruce will continue to host one-off specials of Strictly at Christmas time and for Children in Need.

The presenter – who has been in showbusiness since childhood – had also talked in interviews about how he would like to spend more time abroad to avoid the cold winters in the UK.

Sir Bruce said today: “After 10 wonderful years and 11 series, I believe it is now the right time to step down from the rigours of presenting the Strictly live shows.

“I am very proud of what the show has achieved and confident it will entertain the nation for many years to come. I am also delighted that by presenting the Christmas and Children In Need shows I will continue to have a strong association with Strictly.

“In addition, I am looking forward to the specials planned with the BBC as well as some live theatre shows, so before anyone asks, I am not retiring quite yet.”

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: “Sir Bruce Forsyth is one of the great showbiz legends of our time and Strictly’s success is due in vast amounts to him. I am so pleased he will continue to be part of the Strictly family and promise viewers that we haven’t seen the last of him on BBC1.”

Mark Linsey, the BBC’s controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “One of the joys of my job is working with Sir Bruce Forsyth and long may that continue.

“He is the all-time master and commander when it comes to Great British entertainers and Strictly owes him such a great deal. This is not a farewell, but you can’t blame him for wanting to take things a little bit easier.”

Strictly Come Dancing will return in the autumn. In recent years it has trashed its Saturday night ITV rival The X Factor in the ratings, but the singing contest is hoping to revitalise its audience by bringing back Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole to the judging panel later this year.

Just last week Sir Bruce and other figures from Strictly collected an award for the programme when it was named best entertainment/comedy show at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

And at the time the entertainer – who had returned from a spell in Puerto Rico – said no decision had been reached about his future on the show.

“When I calm down a bit I will then think about it and will see what’s in the melting pot,” he said.

The 2013 series – which was won by model Abbey Clancy and also featured TV presenter Susanna Reid and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor – was the best yet, he said.

“I think last year was probably the best series because the dancing was so good. We had about six couples at the end and any one of them could have won it. Ten years we’ve been on – for a show to still be improving is wonderful.”

Strictly was something of a comeback for Sir Bruce who had been a Saturday night fixture on the BBC in the 1970s with family show The Generation Game.

He went on to enjoy success on ITV with Play Your Cards Right but famously announced he was quitting the network in 2000, unhappy with the way he claimed he was being treated by then programme boss David Liddiment.

Sir Bruce is soon to return to ITV for the first time since then, presenting a programme about his late friend Sammy Davis Jr for the Perspectives arts documentary series.