Bruce Forsyth has been a regular guest in British living rooms since the dawn of the television age as we know it. As king of comedy and light entertainment, his appearances are part-ringmaster, part-showman, hugely professional, highly polished and practised to each perfect ad lib. While we are used to such a staged, two dimensional knowledge of Forsyth, it is refreshing to see him from behind the slap 'n' tickle veneer of the consummate performer. Bruce: The Autobiography
is a fair-paced chronicle of a public figure now well into his 70s. As such, its remit is, to some extent, predictable; middle-class life in Edmonton, North London, then evacuation, the war years, and on to the theatre-land world of pier shows and music hall, egged on by an ambition to dance like Fred Astaire and later Gene Kelly, before variety show breaks on TV, and finally the honour of a starring role on the small screen. Forsyth's tone is triumphant; his unparalleled success over decades showing with bravado in his storytelling. Young ambition and statesmanlike expectation of his place in the grand scheme of showbiz shine through, and, as with many star biogs, first wives and kids get shorter shrift than those who replace them in later years. Still, the writing is entertaining, and although perhaps unintentional, a little vindictive streak against ex-agents and seaside landladies alike adds--perhaps unintentional--humour, as does his impatience with those with whom he does not quite see eye to eye.
Forsyth's career began in the WIndmill Theatre, whose revues included many a woman wearing tassels, so he was well prepared to play alongside many a glamourous Generation Game and Play Your Cards Right hostess, and more prepared (and proud) still to marry a former Miss World. Very much traditionalist in outlook, but with plenty of sparkle in the style which made him famous, Bruce: The Autobiography should delight an older generation of fans who have grown up and older in the comfortable shadow of one of the last true variety performers. The don't make 'em like this any more! --Helen Lamont
Best Read for Christmas. -- Mark Lawson, Front Row, Radio 4
Effervescent is the word, like the author himself. -- Sunday Telegraph
I love you, Bruce Forsyth -- Frank Skinner
If anyone's to blame for me wanting to get into TV, it's probably you, Bruce. -- Jonathan Ross
In the gameshow of life, Brucie hasn't just won the TV, the golf clubs and the hostess trolley. He's won the cuddly toy as well. -- Daily Mirror