RIP Bruce Forsyth. Nice chap, I imagine and had a bloody good innings.
I know that some of you may think I’m being harsh but I’ll say this anyway. I wasn’t a big fan of Bruce Forsyth. In fact I wasn’t a fan at all and I can honestly say he gave me next to nothing in the entertainment department. Now that doesn’t mean I’m glad he’s dead so don’t start sending me hate mail or pushing dog dirt through my letterbox (which is basically the same thing) because that’s just silly behaviour and if we’re all being honest I can’t be the only person on the planet that thought old Brucie was a tad over-rated. Bear in mind that when he finished on ‘Strictly’ he was replaced by Claudia Winkleman. What a mark of respect! They may as well have bought in The Chuckle Brothers.
His passing away was greeted with the usual sickly waves of tributes, particularly from the world of ‘light entertainment’. I like the term ‘light entertainment’ because it essentially admits to itself what a load of empty fluff and glitter it is as a format. A bladder full of hot air. A packet of ready salted crisps. ‘Light entertainment’ is often so light that it’s only one level of entertainment above no entertainment whatsoever. There’s staring at a blank screen with a gun to your head and then there’s ‘light entertainment’. I suppose you could squeeze ITV’s entire weekly morning schedule in between the two if you wanted. I’d much rather watch a blank screen than endure the mindless prattle of Philip Schofield or Kate Garraway. Maybe have the gun in my mouth to shake things up a bit.
And if ‘light entertainment’ had a grand wizard, a weaver of the old magic, a keeper of the smelly flame and the badly timed joke, it was Forsyth. He was so galactically lightweight I’m surprised he didn’t need nailing down. What Brucie really had was a way with people, and that is meant as a compliment. He could tease out the odd laugh here and there and keep things rolling along enough for people in care homes to feel engaged. He’d pose and primp and posture and then reel out some daft calling card. To see you nice indeed. What a load of crap.
You can usually gauge the substance of a celebrity by the calibre of those who make the tributes. No one ever has the balls to say ‘I fucking loved Bruce Forsyth’ or ‘I’m sorry he’s dead but he was a bit shit’. Instead you get the usual arse licking, misty eyed, clammy messages (via Twitter these days) by people like Jimmy Tarbuck and Tess Daly (of course). People who basically exist on the same or lower talent level, whether you like it or not. Again I’m aware I’m being a bit mean but I did think there were more important things going on this weekend to warrant not having front page filling tributes on every national newspaper. And I don’t like it when Des O’Connor insists that ‘the nation will be heartbroken’. You’ve checked that have you, Des?
I’m digressing because what I meant to say next was that while I applaud Forsyth’s ability to distract pensioners, the brain-dead and the very easily entertained the fact he had done so for such a very, very, very long time is in a way a damning indictment of the state of British TV. Is our broadcasting heritage so limp that someone like Bruce Forsyth could have been hailed as a kind of tap dancing, perma-grinning demi-god? How sad. Compare what he offered to someone like Peter Cook or Tommy Cooper or Les Dawson and I hope you can see my point. Just because he did what he did for 80 years doesn’t make it necessarily any good. Like anything else I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion.
So, not a fan of Brucie, though I suppose I should give him some begrudging respect for making a programme as rubbish as ‘Play Your Cards Right’ almost bearable. And I’ll admit that when he finally quit ‘Strictly’ it rapidly went from slightly below average to incredibly bad. Have you seen the line up for this year? When Brian Conley looks like a big fish you know you’re in a pond the size of a shot glass. As for the rest I was the wrong generation for the ‘Generation Game’ but it doesn’t keep me awake at night, and the rest of the rest is no better than gravel and weak tea. I suppose they’ll name a park after him.
G B Hewitt. 21.08.2017