The host of TV classic Strictly Come Dancing and The Generation Game has passed away
The great British TV entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth has died aged 89.
Sir Bruce was an icon of British stage and screen and began his career in the 1940s.
It was his classic 1970s game show The Generation Game that cemented his iconic status, along with numerous catchphrases (‘Nice to see you, to see you…Nice!’), but he had a renaissance in the 21st Century when he began hosting BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Sir Bruce had battled a number of illnesses in the past two years and had to relinquish hosting duties on Strictly.
In a statement, his manager Ian Wilson said: “It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, 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!’ Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.
“The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.
“There will be no further comment at the moment and it would be much appreciated if the privacy of Sir Bruce’s family is respected at this most difficult time.”
Sir Bruce was taken to hospital in March and spent five nights in intensive care at St Peter’s Hospital in Surrey after developing a severe chest infection, according to reports.
He underwent surgery in 2015 after he suffered two aneurysms, which were discovered when tests were carried out following a fall at his Surrey home.
The veteran entertainer has been out of the limelight for a while and last year was too frail to attend the funerals of close friends Ronnie Corbett and Sir Terry Wogan.
He announced that he was leaving Strictly Come Dancing in April 2014, after nearly 10 years as the presenter of the show.
Over the years he had showed no signs of slowing down and in 2013 stepped out on to the stage at Glastonbury to a standing ovation, where he performed a host of classic songs and teased Rolling Stones frontman Sir Mick Jagger.
Sir Bruce cemented his place in the hearts of the nation following his stint as the host of ITV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1958.
He also hosted the BBC flagship show The Generation Game from 1971 to 1977 and again at the beginning of the 1990s. At its peak, the show attracted more than 20 million viewers.
He started his career in showbiz at the age of 14 with a show called Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom and made his first television appearance as a child in 1939.
Sir Bruce was a father-of-six, with five daughters from his first two marriages and one son from his last and current marriage, which was to Puerto Rican former Miss World, Wilnelia Merced.
The couple married in 1983 and have remained devoted to each other ever since.
Lady Wilnelia last year told the Mail On Sunday’s You magazine about her husband’s health struggles following his life-saving surgery.
She said she found it difficult to think about a future without the man she’d been married to for 36 years. “I don’t think about it too much. I hope I’ll be prepared somehow, but it doesn’t feel real. He’s the man I fell in love with because his brain is there.
“He has a bit of a problem moving, but we still laugh and talk. I pray, I believe. The main thing is that he’s doing well. The pain is more emotional; sometimes we cry, but mostly we laugh.”
The Puerto Rican 1975 Miss World winner spoke about how he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and still had a keen interest in TV, watching the Olympics, The Apprentice and Question Time.
Lady Wilnelia said at the time she hoped he would be able to perform again, but added: “He doesn’t want to do anything publicly until he’s 100 per cent well. I respect that.”