Dancing a flawless perfomance with his partner Camilla Dallerup, Tom Chambers won the final of Strictly Come Dancing last night. But two burning questions remained. Was this Bruce Forsyth's last waltz as the presenter of the show? And will, at long last, one of Britain's greatest troupers get a knighthood?
Chambers and Dallerup could have gone out in last weeks' programme after coming bottom in the judges' rankings, but won a reprieve thanks to a scoring mix-up which resulted in all three semi-finalists progressing to the grand finale instead of just the top two.
In last night's showdown, the public vote eliminated model Lisa Snowdon and her partner Brendan Cole before propelling former Holby City star Chambers and Dallerup to victory over former S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens and her partner Vincent Simone .
The dancing may be over, but the will-he-won't-he saga of Bruce Forsyth's role as presenter will not reach its climax until tomorrow when the veteran entertainer follows last night's gruelling live conclusion with the recording of the show's Christmas spectacular. After that there is no contract in place for the next series, nor any decision on who will present it. Forsyth himself has yet to make up his mind.
There is a growing clamour for the veteran entertainer to be given a knighthood and, last night, fans renewed calls for him to be recognised in the New Year's honours list.
However, even as Lisa Snowdon, Rachel Stevens and Tom Chambers battled it out for the Strictly crown, bookmakers were totting up bets that Brucie will be replaced next year by either Graham Norton or Paul O'Grady. If that happens, it will mark the end of Forsyth's incredible late career surge.
Fan sites are rife with criticism of his performances over the past series, with fluffed lines and "cringe-worthy" jokes. Forsyth himself has commented on the toll live filming takes – he spends most of Sunday in bed recovering. His manager, Ian Wilson, said: "I don't know whether he will do another one any more than he does. Right now everyone is concentrating on this series"
Forsyth has been fiercely sensitive to criticisms that he is too old, and last week appeared to rule out quitting. "One day I'm going to wake up, hopefully, and I'll say to myself, 'Do I really want to do this any more?' I think that's how it will hit me," he said. "I've always said to my darling wife, to my agent, to my manager, 'If you think I'm not able to do the work, or you think there is getting to be a flaw in my performance, tell me.' Then I will look at it."
He took legal action against a Sunday tabloid earlier this year when it suggested he had decided to quit. Mr Wilson said there was a degree of ageism behind the speculation. "A lot of people are still active at 80," he said. "TV is bizarre in that it has this tendency to get rid of people over a certain age, just when they know what they are doing."
The BBC was tight-lipped, saying the decision for another series had yet to be taken. The comedian Barry Cryer, a friend of Forsyth's for 50 years, said: "I don't think the viewers think he's too old. This is a man of 80 doing a primetime show in 2008. It shouldn't work, but it's a triumph. It breaks all the rules."Reuse content