Suffolk pays tribute to TV legend Sir Bruce Forsyth who has died aged 89

Sir Bruce Forsyth. Picture: IAN WEST

Sir Bruce Forsyth. Picture: IAN WEST - Credit: Archant

Veteran television presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth has died at the age of 89, his manager has said.

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The former The Price is Right and Strictly Come Dancing host passed away surrounded by his family this afternoon.

In a statement, his family said: “It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.

“A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last eighteen months.

“With a twinkle in his eye, he responded ‘I’ve been very, very busy... being ill!’”

Bruce Forsyth at the Ipswich Gaumont in April 1975 with competition winners. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIV

Bruce Forsyth at the Ipswich Gaumont in April 1975 with competition winners. Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

The statement adds: “Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.

“The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.

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“There will be no further comment at the moment and it would be much appreciated if the privacy of Sir Bruce’s family is respected at this most difficult time.”

Sir Bruce visited Suffolk a number of times throughout his life, stopping by at The Gaumont in Ipswich (now The Regent).

Bruce Forsyth performing at the Gaumont in Ipswich, September 1980. Picture: ARCHANT

Bruce Forsyth performing at the Gaumont in Ipswich, September 1980. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Tributes have flooded in from Suffolk people whose lives were touched by the legendary entertainer.

The entertainer and quiz show host made two appearances at the Ipswich Gaumont Theatre with his own variety show in 1975 and 1980 – and brought along a game show element as part of the entertainment.

Former BBC Breakfast anchorman Bill Turnbull, who now lives in Suffolk, was one of the celebrity contestants in Strictly Come Dancing in 2005.

He got to know Sir Bruce well while making the show – and also interviewed him later.

Bruce Forsyth performing at the Gaumont in Ipswich, September 1980. Picture: ARCHANT

Bruce Forsyth performing at the Gaumont in Ipswich, September 1980. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Although there was no doubt who the star was with the public or the contestants, on set he was a model professional: “When we were making Strictly there were no airs and graces about him – he was just one of the gang.”

When they first met, Sir Bruce couldn’t resist pulling Bill’s leg: “The first time we met, I called him Bruce, and he said: ‘Sir Bruce’. Then he laughed and it was always Bruce after that!

“He was one of those people that everyone in the country knew. You say ‘Brucie’ and everyone knows who you’re talking about.”

Bill was impressed by the star’s stamina at an age when many people have been retired for a decade.

He said: “I was on the show in 2005. He was 77-years-old then but he could still keep the studio audience in the palm of his hand with his tap-dancing routine. He was phenomenal.”

And he remembers his recipe to keep going: “I once asked him how he managed what he was doing. He said: ‘I wake and start things going one by one!’”

Bill added that Sir Bruce had been a constant in the world of entertainment all his life – he remembered first seeing him as host of Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the early 1960s.

Strictly dancer Robin Windsor, from Ipswich, tweeted: “RIP Sir Bruce – the ultimate entertainer. So very privileged to have worked with such an icon.”

And Suffolk-based agent Barry Dye had fond memories of working with the entertainment legend.

He said: “He never actually worked for me, but I did come across him a few times and he was always very easy to work with.

“I remember when Shane Ritchie worked with him on the Night of the 1,000 Stars charity show at the Palladium and he was very easy to work with and helpful.”

Mr Dye once joined him on the golf course at Stoke Poges: “It was a charity golf match and I was there with his agent. He didn’t like it when someone’s mobile phone went off in the middle of a round. He took it very seriously.”

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