Last Night's TV: Living with Brucie, Channel 4
John Sergeant on Tracks of Empire, BBC4

Living with Brucie began with some helpful hints on deportment for the elderly: "Old people walk like this," said Brucie, shuffling across the screen in a parody of a geriatric dodder. "You've seen them, haven't you? You've seen them everywhere... Now the first thing they should do is raise their diaphragm..." Brucie walked back again, slightly more upright this time. "OK... they still look old..." he said, shuffling back for another pass. "Raise the diaphragm and swing the arms... They still look old, don't they?" He went back to his starting position for the final improvement. "But. The missing link is... move your shoulders with your arms and then you've got someone who is old but he can walk, and he has a rhythm about it." Brucie did a jaunty little stroll and then turned triumphantly to the camera, to make a direct address to his younger viewers. "Do what I've just done and you will solve Not Looking Quite As Old As People Think You Are." Brucie is now 82, an age when most people would assume that they might count as "Them" too, but he appears to feel that time operates differently for him. Asked towards the end of David Nath's film whether he'd given any thought to his funeral arrangements, he replied, entirely without irony: "When it gets near to the time I think I will give it great thought." No immediate rush, obviously.

Another solution to the Not Looking Quite As Old As People Think You Are conundrum is to keep the camera at a respectful distance. As Bruce prepared to run through the "fountain of youth" exercises that his mother-in-law had recommended to him on his wedding day, he gave strict instructions to the director: "By the way, no real close-ups... no real close-ups. Close-up of the toes, but no close-ups of the face. The toes are much younger than the face." Bruce's toes -- which did indeed look surprisingly sprightly – clenched and unclenched in centre frame. Bruce's mother-in-law, incidentally, is younger than he is, which may be why she felt that a rejuvenating exercise programme was a suitable wedding present. For the last 30-odd years, Bruce has been married to Wilnelia, a Puerto Rican former Miss World, who is almost as big a celebrity in her country as Bruce is here. When they spend time in their Puerto Rican home – in a gated community designed to protect the rest of the island from wealthy golfers – he's apparently known as Señor Mundo.

Quite why Forsyth had given access to Nath for this film I don't know, but the result was a gently comic portrait that suggested that his Generation Game persona – fussy, slightly controlling, exasperated that people won't follow his advice – was built on real foundations. The film was a positive blizzard of uninvited advice. In addition to Brucie's posture and exercise tips, we were also given a blow-by-blow account of the Brucie way to prepare breakfast porridge (not forgetting the critical matter of blueberry dispersal in order to avoid unpleasant clumping), advice on washing shirts and socks (don't ball them up because the elastic goes), an itemised account of what you should pack for a day out on the golf course ("Don't get dehydrated... if you get dehydrated, it's really bad"), plus tips for holiday reading (Bruce favours courtroom dramas and directed our attention to Shadow of Power by Steve Martini, "a great writer"). And when he wasn't doing that he was fussing over Nath's camera placements (he was very anxious that we didn't get to see how messy his golf-buggy garage was) and policing his own performance as Bruce Forsyth, national treasure. Whenever he stumbled over a phrase – as we all do in everyday speech – he rewound a few seconds and did a retake, as if he was on a sound stage and the gallery director had just mentioned it over the earpiece.

How Wilnelia puts up with it I can't imagine, but she does, remaining serenely equable through everything, even the irascible little spat Forsyth had with an overzealous security guard in their Puerto Rican resort. Nath did include one mildly snide dig at the nature of their relationship: "What was it Winnie had seen in him beyond the porridge and the socks?" the voiceover asked ingenuously, before the image cut to a long shot of Bruce's Wentworth mansion. But everything you saw on screen suggested that their marriage is a genuinely loving one, not a mid-life crisis for him or a gravy train (or gravy golf-buggy) for her. That's his secret, I think – not diaphragm control or the adrenalin of performance, but marrying someone he urgently wants to stay young for.

Engineers sometimes legitimately complain that television doesn't honour their contribution to the modern world quite enough. Railway enthusiasts can hardly complain, though, since there seems to be a general rule that there must always be at least one presenter riding the rails at any given time. The latest is John Sergeant in Tracks of Empire, a brief history of the Indian railways, an enterprise described by its first mover – Governor General James Broun-Ramsay – as "vastly surpassing in real grandeur the aqueducts of Rome, the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China and the palaces, temples and mausoleums of the great Moghul monuments". Not always as beautiful, it has to be said, but ask even the most fervent Indian nationalist, "What did the British ever do for us?" and the answer is likely to be the railway.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • 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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before