Knight to see you, to see you knight for Bruce Forsyth
Bruce Forsyth said he cannot wait to call his wife “my lady” after it was announced he is being made a knight in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
The 83-year-old entertainer said he thought it was a hoax when he first received the letter telling him about the honour which comes after a long campaign by fans and friends alike.
He said: “We were doubtful because it's been going on so long, the speculation, we thought it might be a hoax, so we did check all the way down the line that it was real.”
The latest honour for Forsyth, who was made a CBE in 2006, caps a showbusiness career that stretches back to the Second World War. Some would say it has been a long time coming. There have been internet petitions and even a Parliamentary Early Day Motion signed by 73 MPs asking for him to be knighted.
Forsyth said: “Michael Grade put in a very good word, even Elton John put into print ‘why hasn't Bruce received this honour?”'
But he admitted at times he feared the campaign would have the opposite effect and that “the longer it goes on, the longer you think it's never going to happen”.
He said he was not sure what he would say to the Queen and described his visit to the palace to collect his CBE as “very nerve-wracking”.
He added he was looking forward to celebrating with his wife, former Miss World Wilnelia Merced, when she arrived back in the country from her native Puerto Rico today.
He said: “I did feel as happy for my wife as I did for me, and I can't wait to call her my lady.”
The man they call the “king of Saturday night” was born Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson in Edmonton, north London, on February 22, 1928.
At the age of 14 he left home and was touring Britain as The Boy Bruce — The Mighty Atom. He made his broadcasting debut in 1942 and was an instant hit.
He spent years travelling up and down the country on the variety circuit where he danced, sang, cracked jokes and waited for his big break.
He got it in 1958 when he became host of Sunday Night At The London Palladium and he never looked back, hosting The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and Bruce's The Price Is Right.
Nearly every performance was studded with his catchphrases and most began with the greeting: “Nice to see you ... to see you nice!”
In 2004, when in effective semi-retirement, Forsyth was brought back to host a new version of an old programme, Strictly Come Dancing, and scored another massive hit.
The entertainer said some of his success was down to his shows having “always been family shows”.
Looking back at his career, Forsyth picked out his show with legendary American entertainer Sammy Davis jnr as “an hour of bliss”.
Tributes came in from his Strictly co-host Tess Daly, who called him “Britain's greatest living all-round entertainer”, and added: “Does this mean I'll have to curtsy now at the start of each show?”
BBC director-general Mark Thompson said: “Brucie has been a family favourite for many years and remains one of the BBC's best-loved stars.
“I'm delighted Bruce has received this honour, just as his millions of fans will be.
“This great honour recognises the fantastic contribution he has made over many decades.”