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Sir Bruce Forsyth: 8 little-known facts about his career

From BBC - August 19, 2017

Sir Bruce Forsyth, who has died at the age of 89, hosted some of the biggest shows on British TV of the past 60 years - from Sunday Night at the London Palladium to Strictly Come Dancing.

As well as the prime time game shows for which he was best known, there were many other sides to his long career, from movies to a TV sitcom and attempts to crack America.

He made his TV debut before World War Two

Sir Bruce is the only entertainer whose career spanned the entire TV era.

He made his first appearance at the age of 11 on Come and Be Televised in 1939, just three years after regular BBC TV broadcasts began.

He performed a song and tap dance routine and was interviewed by the programme's host Jasmine Bligh, who asked what his ambition was.

He replied: "I want to become a star and buy my mum a fur coat."

Days later, BBC TV was suspended because of the outbreak of war.

Bruce turned professional three years later and his first advert in trade paper The Stage read: "Bruce Forsyth: available for anything."

He nearly quit showbiz before his big break arrived

But he did not find stardom until the age of 30, when he was chosen to host Sunday Night at the London Palladium on ITV.

Before that, he was a jobbing performer on the variety circuit.

"I gave myself five years and I thought, if I do not do any good in five years, I do not want to end up being a frustrated performer [so] I will get out of the business," he said.

"And the five years were nearly up, and I got the job at the Palladium."

He got rave reviews in a West End musical

After finding fame, he made his West End musical debut in 1964 in a show called Little Me, about fictional Hollywood diva Belle Poitrine.

The show had come from Broadway, and Bruce played her various male patrons.

The Times' drama critic described him as "omni-competent" and concluded that "the honours of the evening go to the multiple performance of Bruce Forsyth as a senile slum landlord, thick-spectacled doughboy, leather-jacketed German film director, and egregiously patrician lover of Miss Poitrine's dreams".

He starred in an Oscar-nominated film

That musical led him to the movies, with a role in Star!, the 1968 biopic of British actress Gertrude Lawrence, played by Julie Andrews.

Sir Bruce played her tough vaudevillian father, and the film was nominated for seven Oscars - although none were for Sir Bruce's acting.

He later said he wished he had done more acting.

"I'd like to have done more of that, but in Britain we tend to pigeonhole people.

"In Britain I am really known as the game show [host]. That's the pigeonhole they have put me in, and that's where I am stuck."

He also appeared in Bedknobs and Broomsticks in 1971.

But he missed out on a role that could have really launched his film career - Fagin in the 1968 filmed version of Oliver!

He had a dodgy pop career

Brucie released a string of singles in the 1960s and '70s, although none made it to the charts.

Some were novelty songs related to his TV career - like 1959's I am In Charge, named after his Sunday Night at the London Palladium catchphrase.

He tried to break America

He had his own sitcom

Have I Got News For You revived his career

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