Sir Brucie rocks on his festival debut

A Slice of Britain: After 70 years in the business, the stage and television veteran shows he can still hold a crowd in the palm of his hand

the hop farm festival

Sir Bruce Forsyth does not scare easily. The 84-year-old national treasure has hosted some of the biggest shows on British TV, coined more catchphrases than he knows what to do with, married a former Miss World, and was finally honoured after seven decades in show business last year with a knighthood, demanded by newspapers, parliamentarians and fans countrywide. It seems there's nothing the King of Variety has not done. But not so.

The sharply attired Brucie tells me he is "not just a little bit, but tremendously nervous". And understandably so. Not only is this the grandfather-of-nine's debut at a British music festival, it is the first time he has ever set foot in one.

As he taps across Hop Farm's main stage, a full 70 years after he first broke into the limelight with his song, dance and accordion act called Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom, he knows this is one act he is unable to predict. With his tapered moustache framing his wide, toothy smile, he scampers to chants of "Brucie, Brucie". No one is surprised when some of the first words he utters are: "Nice to see you, to see you... NICE." As everyone in the audience puts up their arms and cheers, he smiles, looking faintly relieved.

He is in good company. The Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith, and rock veteran Bob Dylan will follow the British star later this evening. But it seems, momentarily, that he is king of them all. He opens with a simple question, "Where am I?", and the cheers get louder as his jokes keep coming. "I promise you I have never used Jimmy Carr's accountants" is the first, followed by: "I promise you, I am not having an affair with Cheryl Cole." Cue belly laughs, from Brucie, and the crowd.

Next are the songs – think Jersey Boys and Sammy Davis Jnr. He sings standards from his new album, his favourite covers and takes revellers' requests. But the biggest cheer comes when he sings a duet of "Smile" with his 20-year-old granddaughter, Sophie Purdie. There's even a bit of time for a variety classic, inviting three burly men and a penguin from the audience to tap dance with him.

The crowd don't let Brucie down. "The atmosphere was electric, wonderful," he tells me when he is safely back in his trailer. "When you get to the end of your career there are things you don't expect to do. Here I am, performing in daylight – I haven't done a matinee since I did summer season. I am going to put it down as a big tick. I would love to do more."

The festival organiser, Vince Power, noted Brucie might initially seem out of place, a "Rolf Harris" of the festival scene, but added: "He's a curiosity and a huge name. It's great having him here."

And the audience is, well, curious. John Williams, a retired Dylan fan from Yorkshire, said: "The idea that Bruce is on the same bill as Bob is surreal, but I think Dylan would appreciate it." While Amanda Kemp, 52, from Sussex, said: "I've grown up with Bruce. It's nice to see someone I feel like I've known all my life."

As for the man himself, he has had a long day. "It's been nice, but I've been up since 6am," he tells me, before admitting that he won't be staying to watch the rest of the bill. "That's one of the secrets of my longevity," he adds. "I like to pace myself." After this show, I don't quite believe him.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions