Sunday 22 July 2018

Theresa May mourns loss of ‘national treasure’ Sir Bruce

The Prime Minister joined celebrities across the nation in paying tribute to the TV legend.

Theresa May.
Theresa May.

By Francesca Gosling

Prime Minister Theresa May has mourned the loss of a “national treasure” following the death of TV legend, Sir Bruce Forsyth.

In a tribute posted on Twitter, she told how she watched the former Strictly Come Dancing presenter “dance, sing, joke and laugh,” on screen and added that he would be missed.

Hours after his death at the age of 89 was announced on Friday, she wrote: “We have lost a national treasure. Like millions of others, for years I watched Sir Bruce dance, sing, joke & laugh. He will be sorely missed.”

Mrs May’s comments came amid a wave of tributes from stars across the show business industry who shared their memories of the star at various points throughout his 70-plus-year career.

Dame Barbara Windsor described the loss of her friend following a bout of ill health as “the end of a show business era”.

She told the Press Association: “This is the end of a show business era and the last of the truly all round great entertainers that this country has ever produced.

“I am so sad as I was a massive fan and was in awe of his professionalism.

“I was lucky enough to know him and was thrilled to be at his last book launch. He will be so sadly missed by all in show business and his millions of fans.”

Sir Bruce Forsyth

She said: “God bless you Bruce and my thoughts are with his beautiful wife Wilnelia who made him so very happy and his family.”

Sir Bruce leaves behind six children and a number of grandchildren, as well as his third wife Wilnelia Merced.

In a statement, his manager Ian Wilson 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 18 months.

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

“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.”

With Strictly co-host Tess Daly (PA)

Strictly colleagues past and present, including his co-presenter Tess Daly and successor Claudia Winkleman, all shared touching tributes.

The show’s former head judge, Len Goodman, said in a statement: “His work ethic, professionalism and charm will be with me forever.”

BBC Director-General, Tony Hall said that “Sir Bruce was one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known” and that he “defined Saturday night television for decades”.

Praising Sir Bruce’s “warmth and wit”, he added: “He has been part of all of our lives, and we’ll miss him dearly.”

Sir Bruce was taken to hospital in March and spent five nights in intensive care at St Peter’s Hospital in Surrey after developing a severe chest infection, according to reports.

Sir Bruce Forsyth

He underwent surgery in 2015 after he suffered two aneurysms, which were discovered when tests were carried out following a fall at his Surrey home.

The veteran entertainer, whose career lasted more than seven decades, had been out of the limelight for a while and last year was too frail to attend the funeral of close friends Ronnie Corbett or Sir Terry Wogan.

He announced that he was leaving Strictly Come Dancing in April 2014, after nearly 10 years as the presenter of the show.

Press Association

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