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Sir Bruce Forsyth passes away aged 89

Bruce Forsyth
Chloe Best
Chloe BestLifestyle Features Editor
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Sir Bruce Forsyth has passed away at the age of 89. Bruce's manager confirmed the news in a heartbreaking statement, which read: "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!' 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." 

BruceForsyth © Photo: Rex

Bruce has sadly passed away aged 89

The BBC released a statement from Director-General Tony Hall, saying: "Sir Bruce was one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known. He has delighted millions of people and defined Saturday night television for decades, with shows like the Generation Game and, most recently, Strictly. His warmth and his wit were legendary. I've never seen anyone quite like him when it comes to performing in front of a crowd. He had a remarkable chemistry with his audience – that's what made him such an amazing professional and why he was so loved. He has been a part of all of our lives, and we'll miss him dearly."

The veteran TV star had suffered ill health in recent months, and in early August his friend Jimmy Tarbuck revealed that he would never perform on television again. Speaking about the presenter, who suffered a serious aortic aneurysm in 2015, Jimmy told the Mirror: "He's okay, but he's a bit frail. He's had an aneurysm. It's very serious. I saw him a week ago." However, he then added that Bruce was "on good form". 

BruceForsyth Wilnelia © Photo: Getty Images

Bruce and his wife Wilnelia

Bruce was unable to attend the funeral of his close friend Ronnie Corbett as he continued to recover from keyhole surgery following a fall in October 2015. Bruce had surgery on an abdominal aortic aneurysm in November, which was discovered when he underwent extensive medical checks following a fall at his home.

At the time his wife Wilnelia admitted she feared for Bruce's life as he underwent the life-saving surgery. "I'm not ready to lose him yet. This has scared me to death, particularly waiting in that hospital when he was having his operation," she told Daily Mail. "That felt like an eternity. Because of Bruce's age there are so many risks involved. You think, 'My God, will he come out alright?' But you have to trust the doctors. The alternative – not having surgery – was worse. It's like you're in a corner. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't, because this is such a fatal thing."

Sir Bruce had been enjoying spending more time with his wife and family since he stepped down from his presenting role on Strictly Come Dancing in 2014. The popular presenter had hosted the primetime show for ten years and 11 series, and told HELLO! that "the world is my oyster" after he announced his decision to quit.

BruceForsyth knighted © Photo: PA

The TV star was made a Knight Chancellor by the Queen in 2011

The entertainer leaves behind his wife of 33 years and their son Jonathan Joseph, known as JJ. Sir Bruce also has five daughters – Debbie, Julie, Laura, Charlotte and Louisa – from his two previous marriages to Penny Calvert and Anthea Redfern.

As a 14-year-old, he began working 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 Price is Right

In 2004, when in effective semi-retirement, he was bought back to host the new version of Strictly Come Dancing, and scored another huge hit. He was knighted by the Queen in 2011 and said at the time it meant "everything" to him. Speaking to BBC, he said: "I just love getting out there and performing and this is a reward that I never expected and hope I'm worthy of."

Addressing his incredible showbusiness career which had spanned over 70 years, Bruce said: "Entertaining – it's been the only thing I've ever wanted to do and I've done it for many, many years. Who feels like quitting? I want to go on."

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