Bruce Forsyth: You Ask The Questions

Have you ever said 'nice to see you, to see you nice' and not meant it? And who is your ideal dance partner?

Bruce Forsyth, 76, was born in Edmonton, north London. He left the family garage business at 14 to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1958, he made his television debut as the compère of
Sunday Night at the London Palladium, before making his name as the host of
The Generation Game, which began in 1971. A former presenter of ITV's
Play Your Cards Right and
The Price is Right, he experienced a renaissance as the host of the BBC's
Strictly Come Dancing. He lives with his third wife, Wilnelia, and their 18-year-old son. He has five daughters from his previous marriages.

Bruce Forsyth, 76, was born in Edmonton, north London. He left the family garage business at 14 to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1958, he made his television debut as the compère of Sunday Night at the London Palladium, before making his name as the host of The Generation Game, which began in 1971. A former presenter of ITV's Play Your Cards Right and The Price is Right, he experienced a renaissance as the host of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. He lives with his third wife, Wilnelia, and their 18-year-old son. He has five daughters from his previous marriages.

What inspired the famous Brucie pose - standing in profile with fist on forehead?
Tom Gower, London

It was 1971 and we were rehearsing for the first series of The Generation Game. We were running through the opening of the show and the producer told me to just stand at the back of the stage and wait for the spotlight. I thought, "I can't just stand there like an idiot." So I did that pose and everyone laughed. The producer loved it and told me to keep it in.

Is there an off-screen Brucie?
Jo Smith, Yarmouth

Yes, very much so. He's much more relaxed. I go to Puerto Rico for the winter and lie around reading and relaxing for three or four months. I never get bored. I love reading courtroom dramas. I couldn't live with the on-screen Bruce all the time.

What are your backstage requirements?
Paul Christie, by e-mail

Plenty of water, some digestive biscuits, mint tea and my throat sweets. I always keep a throat sweet in a bottle top so that I can have a little suck of it in between shooting.

If someone had told you four years ago that you would be riding high hosting the return of Come Dancing , what would your reaction have been?
Ben Taylor, by e-mail

I wouldn't have believed them. It was all due to Have I Got News For You. I was a guest presenter on the show in June 2003. A lot of people thought it was a silly thing for me to do. I was very nervous before I went on. The audience of that show love satire and humour that insults people, so I thought, "How are they going to react to me?". But after five minutes they were like a game-show audience. It was following that appearance that I was asked to do Strictly Come Dancing.

"Nice to see you, to see you nice." With respect, it's gobbledegook, yet it is one of television's immortal catchphrases. How did it come about?
Elton Roebuck, Southport

I coined it. I'd used it on TV in the 1960s and then I did a commercial for the TV Times where a guy came up to me in a pub and said, "It is you isn't it? Nice to see you, to see you nice." After that, people started shouting it at me on the street. People love it because you can say it to anybody.

Have you ever said "Nice to see you, to see you nice" and not meant it?
Helen Tucker, Glasgow

I suppose I have - just to shut someone up. It can be a bit embarrassing when you're walking along the street and someone keeps shouting at you to say it.

Des O'Connor has become a father again. Would you consider having another child?
Chrissie Brightman, by e-mail

I had five daughters and then had a son when I was about 55. It was very different. I was able to spend much more time with him. People think I work all the time but I work during the spring and then take the whole summer off. So I have had more time to see my son than I had to see any of my daughters, although we are all very close. It was certainly worthwhile having a child later in life. But I don't think we could cope with another one.

As a fellow 76-year-old I can only look on in awe and astonishment. How do you do it?
George James, London

I do take care of myself. I stretch every morning for half an hour. I play golf regularly. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. I drink a lot of water. I don't drink a lot of alcohol. Over the past 25 years I have been more conscious of being healthy because you hear so much about looking after yourself. You have to be responsible.

Who would be your ideal dance partner, other than your wife?
Colin Evans, Cardiff

Easy. Cyd Charisse. She is dead now, but she was the most wonderful dancer - poetry in motion.

When did you give your first live performance and how did it go?
Cheryl McCartney, Bedford

I was 14 and it was at an awful place in the Midlands. I got about 60p. I played, sang and did a little patter on my tap-mat. It was dreadful.

Were you a keen dancer as a child? Do you wish you'd danced across our screens more often?
Hillary Smithers, London

I started dancing when I was nine. I used to tap-dance around the house. In those days we had linoleum on the floor which made a nice noise. My mother and father asked me if I'd like to go to dancing classes and I said I'd love to. In the war we had a charity concert group with singers, dancers and magicians. We would do shows to raise money for things like buying Spitfires or giving aid to Russia. I do wish I'd had the chance to dance more on television. In the last series of Strictly Come Dancing, I sang and did a couple of dance numbers, which was lovely.

Is it true that you and Jimmy Hill "re-enact" Tower Bridge using your chins?
Harry Cook, Manchester

Yes. When we meet, I say, "Let's do Tower Bridge". We lean our chins back so that they touch in the middle and then we both go back like Tower Bridge.

What's the secret of working an audience?
Amy Sutton, Nottingham

To treat them as one person - then you keep them together. I do single out people in the audience when I have a go at them, but otherwise I regard them as one person. In Strictly Come Dancing it's harder for me to work the audience because I'm standing on the edge of a dancefloor looking at a camera and there's no one in front of me. I have to work the camera instead - that's really difficult.

If you were in charge of the BBC's programming, what would you commission?
Fred Bennett, Bolton

More comedy. What is replacing shows like Only Fools and Horses, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, One Foot in the Grave and The Good Life? And what is replacing American shows like Frasier and Friends? The public need to laugh, what with all the tragedies going on in the world today. So please give us more middle-of-the-road comedy, not cult comedy or vulgar comedy, but comedy for family audiences.

Has anything been thrown at you while you were performing?
Debbie Upton, by e-mail

Fish and chips. I was doing my solo act at the Wood Green Empire in the 1950s. It was the nearest theatre to where I was born, so it broke my heart when someone threw their dinner at me. But I got out of it very well. The audience were embarrassed when they saw the newspaper hit the floor, but I walked over, picked up a chip, took a bite and said, "Too much salt." And I got a nice round of applause.

Do you play your cards right?
Yasmin Moss, Bradford

No. I've always been a very unlucky gambler. I could go to Las Vegas and not win one bet. I learnt that in the early days when I went into showbusiness. There was always loads of time to spare because you only worked in the evening. In the daytime you went to the movies or the snooker hall or sat around a fire and played a game of cards. I always lost money. Some people are always lucky and some, like me, are not.

Is reality TV the enemy?
Carly Brown, Norwich

I don't know about the enemy, but I hope it's run its course. Life's too short to watch reality TV shows where people sit around talking about nothing. I have been asked to appear on them, but I say, "I'm a celebrity, don't ask me in".

Des O'Connor, Michael Parkinson, you. Why are pensioners so popular on television?
Chris Anderson, by e-mail

We haven't changed our styles. People have grown up with us. All the programmes I've done have been for a family audience, so children have grown up with me for the last 50 years. I don't have to change my style to get an audience. But I'm still a person living in the 21st century; I try to keep abreast of the times, although here and there there's a word I don't understand - usually something that's been stolen from America. Fries instead of chips. Chilling out - what is that? It's all a load of old nonsense.

Was the world a better place when you were growing up?
Howard Gatting, Southampton

No. Today's world is better as regards communication - not that I use the internet. I always say I'm far too famous to be on e-mail. But my wife was in China recently and I just phoned her on her mobile. But people still haven't learnt to live together. There are so many places where people can't get on because of different religions. I think it is a shame that we haven't all got the same religion.

The album 'Strictly Come Dancing' is out now

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