This is someone whose career I have already taken a look back at in a piece, but he definitely deserves to be featured in this series too because he had one of the longest and most successful TV careers that there has been, and hosting game shows was a rather large part of this. Bruce Forsyth started out in showbusiness at a rather young age, and it was around the late-50s that he wondered whether to open a tobacco shop or stay at it and try for some TV work.
But it was in the early-70s when he really started to become known for his game show hosting, and the first of these successes was BBC1’s The Generation Game, which did really well for many years, with lots of memorable contestants and catchphrases. And in the late-70s he made a surprise high-profile departure to ITV which was said to have left the BBC bigwigs reeling.
He then hosted Bruce’s Big Night, which promised plenty of entertainment, but ultimately delivered little. Then in the early-80s, he went on to Play Your Cards Right, which did much better. In the mid-80s he aimed to break into America with game show Hot Streak, but this wasn’t a success. In the late-80s there was You Bet!, which he would often begin with “the You Bet! rap”, how terrific.
Fancying another change, in the early-90s he went back to the BBC, for more game shows, including Takeover Bid, and a revival of The Generation Game, which was very enjoyable, and this one is among my favourites of his. In the mid-90s he moved back to ITV again, for a revival of Play Your Cards Right, and The Price Is Right, which were both enjoyable too.
However, some of the final editions of Bruce’s Price Is Right (as it was now called) weren’t shown in a primetime slot, and he was beginning to feel a little underappreciated. So in the early-2000s there was another revival of Play Your Cards Right, this time offering more prize money than ever. But there was a game added at the start to determine who would play, and this didn’t seem the place for contestants to be unfairly eliminated, leave that to The Weakest Link.
Maybe by this point it was felt that after so many years his style was beginning to get a little stale, but after going back to the BBC yet again, he was given the chance to host Have I Got News For You, which showed that he could still do these type of shows in a entertaining and energetic style in a way a felt he hadn’t done for a while, and this gave his career a much-needed boost.
By the mid-2000s there was Didn’t They Do Well, which was good, but this was a one-series wonder that was soon overshadowed by Strictly Come Dancing, which he hosted for about a decade, and was his last big game show success, his desire to entertain seemingly hadn’t dimmed one bit since he started out many decades earlier, what a talent, clearly the tobacco shop’s loss was our gain.