Bruce Forsyth on politics, reality TV and leaving Strictly

"I was beginning to feel a bit stale. It’s an awful thing to feel as a performer, that you’re not enjoying it as much as you should do and you’re not giving as much as you could.”

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Bruce Forsyth is fed up. Not with work, obviously. He turned 87 on 22 February, but it’s not age that’s getting him down. He’s still got plenty of energy and retirement certainly isn’t on the agenda. No, Bruce is tired of reality TV.

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“I have had enough of it,” he says. “I don’t know how long it’s been going on but it’s probably well over ten years.” 

Just before Christmas, he hosted Bruce’s Hall of Fame (below), a BBC1 show where a mix of performers celebrated the artists who inspired their careers, and he wants more of the same on our screens.

“I’d like to see performers playing together, having fun together, entertaining together, instead of this thing that we’re caught up in.”

Back in 1958, aged 30, Brucie had his big break as the host of ITV’s famous variety show Sunday Night at the Palladium. In those days, they’d fill the programme up to 40 weeks a year with homegrown talent as well as big-name stars from America. But because of the lack of variety stars these days, he’s unsure whether a revival would be possible today. “I don’t think you have the top-of-the-bill names. The top-of-the-bills in our day were huge world stars. It’s all got to be pop stars now.”

The reason? The X Factor. “I don’t watch it because they have singer after singer after singer after singer… and then, after that, they have another singer. That, to me, isn’t entertainment. It’s a very good show, it’s produced very, very well and I’m all for giving young people a chance to become big names, but I want more in two hours of entertainment than only singing.” 

Brucie, of course, hosted The X Factor’s biggest rival for ratings on BBC1, Strictly Come Dancing. But after 11 series and a decade in the job he decided it was time to step down last year.

“I was beginning to feel a bit stale. It’s an awful thing to feel as a performer, that you’re not enjoying it as much as you should do and you’re not giving as much as you could.” 

And it was his decision. He didn’t feel any pressure from the BBC to go and, by way of evidence, points to having been immediately asked to present various Strictly specials. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0HlqEPt_00

Live television, he says, is a hit and miss affair. “You don’t know what kind of reaction you’re going to get so you’re
on a tightrope all the time, all ready to fall off and excuse yourself if the line doesn’t get the laugh you hoped it would.”

Unsurprisingly, he’s returning to his first love, the stage – more specifically the London Palladium – for the first time in almost two decades with his one man show as part of a three-leg tour in the spring.

“I love theatre because you know what you’re doing. If something goes wrong, that’s marvellous, because you can always fix it at the moment.”

Brucie still gets a buzz from performance. “When I walk on stage, some- thing happens to me. The other me takes over and I become this performer. That amazes me some- times.”

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Is it better than sex? “Well, it’s pretty close.”