Tuesday 23 January 2018

Bruce Forsyth criticises X Factor for ‘scripted’ rows

Andrew Hough

STRICTLY Come Dancing is winning the ratings battle with the X Factor because it does not have "scripted" rows between judges, Bruce Forsyth has claimed.

The 83 year-old entertainer admitted he was “thrilled” that the popular BBC One show it had “done so much better this year than in other years”.

Bruce, who was knighted last month, said that despite being a “reality show”, Strictly had a better format, music, singing and comedy.

In comparison, the X-factor, whose boss is Simon Cowell, the media mogul, had repetitive singers and “judges making up rows between themselves”.

Bruce, who has performed for 70 years – 50 of those on prime time television – believed the fights were “scripted”.

He admitted his top-rating show’s celebrities had improved in talent, which he believed had helped improve audience figures.

But the veteran performer conceded that sometimes the judges could make comments “in a funnier way, maybe”.

Bruce, who currently co-hosts the now in its ninth year, with Tess Daly, was speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row to promote a new album of his favourite songs.

Asked if X Factor was struggling, he replied: “Well, I think it is struggling more in the press, than I think in anything else. There is a length of time that sort of show (can last).

“Although ours is a reality show, we do have people getting up and doing something, we have got beautiful music going on, great singers, we have comedy from the judges, there is (also) comedy from me.

“So it has other things to offer, not just singer after singer after singer and judges making up rows between themselves … scripted, I think.”

The father-of-three added: “I wouldn’t like to say it is on its last legs as I think they will do another couple of series of it.

“I am just thrilled that our show is getting a bigger audience than ever this year. That is what I am thrilled about.”

But he later chided the presenter for trying to get him to say “something nasty” about his rival show.

Despite his decades of experience, he admitted to pre-show nerves at last weekend's Wembley Arena edition of the show.

In the 15-minute interview, Bruce admitted that he was still interested in ratings, in a similar way.

“It is nice to know that we have done so much better this year than in other years because two years ago the show wasn’t good,” he said.

“We didn’t have the right people on the show. This year we have people on board who are interesting.”

He said he was referring to celebrities who were “not contestants … as that would belittle them”.

“When I say at the start of the evening it is time to meet the stars of our show I mean that because without them we don’t have a show.”

He admitted that he had toned it down after he used to be quite “caustic” and “cutting” towards stars. “I used to have fun with them,” he said.

“In Strictly I am more of a guardian angel. I look after them.”

Asked if he was “driven by a sense of rivalry” and if he “watched what the other side is doing”, he replied: “Of course, all of this is all nonsense.

“And as Simon Cowell came up to me last year actually … he said ‘it is all banter isn’t it’. I said ‘of course it is’.”

He recounted a time when he bumped into Cowell’s mother in Selfridges, the London department store, when he was having lunch with his Puerto Rican-born wife Wilnelia, a former Miss World.

He joked “never mind” before she said she was a fan of the show.

“She said ‘I watch Strictly. I watch it every Saturday and I love it’,” he said.

“I said ‘I am glad you do. It is nice to know that Simon Cowell’s mother likes our show’.”

The entertainer began his career tap dancing at the age of 14 in a show called "The Boy Bruce the Mighty Atom".

He is most well known for hosting The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right, Bruce's Price is Right, and more recently Strictly Come Dancing

He admitted that he was “a very lucky person” for having a career where his shows have proven to be very popular.

He is set to return to the stage for the first time in more than a decade to celebrate his 70th year in showbusiness.

Bruce will give a one-off performance at the Royal Albert Hall on 3 May next year. Titled Bruce Forsyth: Live on Stage , it will involve music and comedy, with songs performed from his new album These Are My Favourites.

He will be accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Dave Arch, Strictly Come Dancing's musical director.


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