Veteran TV presenter Bruce Forsyth dies aged 89

Sir Bruce Forsyth in the garden of his Surrey home. Picture: PA

Sir Bruce Forsyth in the garden of his Surrey home. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

TV veteran Sir Bruce Forsyth has died at the age of 89, his manager has said.

SHOWBIZ
SUMMER SEASON SHOWFOLK AT GREAT YARMOUTH
BRUCE FORSYTH IN FRONT OF THE PAVILION THEATRE

SHOWBIZ SUMMER SEASON SHOWFOLK AT GREAT YARMOUTH BRUCE FORSYTH IN FRONT OF THE PAVILION THEATRE DATED 1961 PLATE P6383

The statement read: '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 eighteen 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.


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'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.'

The actor, singer and host visited Norwich's Theatre Royal on May 4, 2015 – one of a select number of venues where he performed a new stage show.

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John Bultitude, senior communications officer from Norwich Theatre Royal, said: 'A light has gone out in the world of show-business following the sad death of Bruce Forsyth.

'A true showman and consummate entertainer, Bruce was held in deep affection by generations who loved his ready wit, sparkling repartee and versatility as a performer.

'He made one of his final live on-stage appearances here in Norwich in May 2015 and delighted a sold-out audience. Despite a career which has taken him to venues the length and breadth of the land, it was his very first appearance at the Theatre Royal and he joked about how audience-members would be heading along on their tractors to see him.

'The smiles on the faces of his Norwich audience that evening said it all. Bruce was very definitely an entertainer in a million and leaves a legacy of laughter and happiness with many.'

He also performed regularly in Great Yarmouth, and was part of the 550 strong crowd which packed Great Yarmouth Church for the annual actors service in 1961.

In the same year he starred in Showtime at the Wellington Pier, Great Yarmouth.

Fellow stars have taken to social media to pay tribute to Sir Bruce. The entertainer died after a battle with his health, having recently contracted bronchial pneumonia.

Former QI presenter Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: 'There was only one £Brucie - it was more than to nice to see you, to see you more than nice.'

BBC Director-General, Tony Hall said: 'Sir Bruce was one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known.

'He has delighted millions of people and defined Saturday night television for decades, with shows like the Generation Game and, most recently, Strictly. His warmth and his wit were legendary.

'I've never seen anyone quite like him when it comes to performing in front of a crowd. He had a remarkable chemistry with his audience - that's what made him such an amazing professional and why he was so loved.

'He has been part of all of our lives, and we'll miss him dearly.'

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 funeral of close friends Ronnie Corbett or 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% well. I respect that.'

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