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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May 2005, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Forsyth's six decades in limelight
Bruce Forsyth
Forsyth began his career as The Boy Bruce - The Mighty Atom
A bronze bust of veteran entertainer Bruce Forsyth is being unveiled at London's Palladium theatre, honouring a career lasting more than six decades.

The 77-year-old star has maintained the fundamentals of his appeal - energy, enthusiasm and old-fashioned entertainment.

Born in Edmonton, north London, Forsyth soon developed talents for singing, dancing, playing the accordion, ukulele and banjo, and a natural comic timing.

By the age of 14 he had left the family garage business to tour Britain as The Boy Bruce - The Mighty Atom.

He spent 20 years travelling the country, working seven days a week, performing in church halls, sleeping in luggage racks and waiting for his big break.

Bruce Forsyth in 1965
I want to be famous and buy my mum a fur coat
Bruce Forsyth
On a BBC chat show, young Forsyth explained: "I want to be famous and buy my mum a fur coat."

By the time he received a request in 1958 to host TV series Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Forsyth was on the verge of leaving showbusiness.

He was booked for two weeks, and ended up staying five years, by which time he was Britain's highest paid entertainer, earning 1,000 a week.

One of his Palladium roles, refereeing Beat the Clock, gave a hint of Forsyth's future television performances. He went on to host some of the most popular television games shows of the 1970s and 1980s.

Bruce Forsyth and Anthea Redfern on The Generation Game
Forsyth married Generation Game co-host Anthea Redfern in 1973
He reigned supreme at the helm of the BBC's Generation Game from 1971 to 1977, and again at the beginning of the 1990s. At its peak, the programme attracted 20 million viewers.

Forsyth's catchphrases "nice to see you, to see you nice" and "didn't he do well?" are recognised in every household and can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations.

Forsyth asked his Generation Game co-host Anthea Redfern to "give us a twirl" each week, and they were married in 1973. After their divorce he married former Miss World, Wilnelia, and has an 18-year-old son JJ (Jonathan Joseph).

He has five daughters. 'Never cruel'

The entertainer repeated his TV success on long-running ITV quiz show Play Your Cards Right.

Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia
Forsyth has an 18-year-old son with his wife Wilnelia
BBC chairman Michael Grade once said of Forsyth: "He knows how to get laughs out of people, but it's never cruel and he leaves their dignity intact."

In 1994 Bruce left the BBC to join ITV, following a row with bosses at the corporation.

In 1995, a year after his final Generation Game appearance, he received a lifetime achievement award for variety at the British Comedy Awards, and three years later an OBE.

History repeated itself in 2000 as Forsyth fronted a revived Sunday Night at the London Palladium TV show.

He also left ITV, saying he could no longer work with the channel's then-controller David Liddiment after Play Your Cards Right was axed.

Strictly Come Dancing
Forsyth with Strictly Come Dancing's Tess Daly and Natasha Kaplinksy
Forsyth's television renaissance began in 2003 when he appeared as a guest presenter on satirical BBC quiz show Have I Got News For You?

He went on to front a new quiz, Didn't They Do Well, in 2004 and became the host of the BBC's revamped Come Dancing, now titled Strictly Come Dancing.

Alongside co-host Tess Daly, Forsyth helped the show become a Saturday night ratings hit, spurning a further series and TV specials.

His popularity in the role earned Forsyth his first National TV Awards nomination in 2004.

He was also the subject of his own Bafta TV tribute this year.

SEE ALSO
Forsyth to be honoured with bust
06 May 05 |  Entertainment
Forsyth nominated for TV awards
12 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
Forsyth fronts TV variety revival
16 Mar 04 |  Entertainment
Forsyth quits ITV in fury
27 Oct 00 |  Entertainment

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