BRUCE FORSYTH – An Inspiration
A number of weeks ago, one of my idols, a man with whom I seriously identified with – Sir Bruce Forsyth – sadly passed away.
Forsyth was of a truly rare breed – singer, dancer, actor and comedian. His familiarly velvet toned voice could be heard each Saturday night from September until Christmas on BBCs iconic show ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’ Forsyth performed many times himself on the show, and developed many of its (and his own) catch phrases. According to friends and colleagues, he was always dancing and working through songs and routines. Along with this he was a sharp comedian, and with comedy being one of the most difficult mediums in which to entertain, undoubtedly spent many hours preparing this too. From what I can tell, entertaining was more vocational than occupational for Bruce. This is something I totally relate to. Yes, in many ways it has been at the cost of some relationships – both friendships and romantic. It has definitely been at the cost of ever experiencing the ‘9 to 5’ feeling or even the idea of two days a week off! This all said, it is who I am and I make no apologies for that.
In the entertainment world, I may be perceived as a strange creature. I do not fit into a ‘box,’ so people can find me hard to handle. Although this is part and parcel of the creative director umbrella, I recall one teacher from school warning my father many years ago that I do not become a ‘jack of all trades,’ and now, I thank this particular gentleman for warning me also. I am, for many, ‘Mister Showbiz’ and all that comes with it. On any given day you could find me working through dance formations and steps for a piece or a show, to blocking a script (with or without cast), or even embellishing costumes and head pieces with rhinestones and feathers (there’s never enough glitter), or even writing this article. So, identifying with tv personalities and entertainers today can prove quite difficult for me. I look to the legends such as Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire for inspiration and it is clear Bruce did too.
On Strictly, Bruce always had favourites – who doesn’t! What set him apart from the likes of Simon or Louis, was that he championed anyone who he felt was getting un-necessarily criticised by the judges and would have no hesitation in politely putting the judges back into their glittery box. This understanding attitude and his willingness to openly challenge those being nasty which I respect the most. The entertainment industry is riddled with un-necessary jibes, slurs and general bitching. Many times these are funny but what is the true cost? Too many times people feel alienated from casts and crew in showbiz and due to the unstable nature of the industry (WHERE’S MY NEXT GIG COMING FROM!?), performers and workers remain silent for fear of not gaining employment.
In my own school and anywhere I teach, I try every day to get rid of attitude and find a way of dealing with a volatile industry. It does not lead to a positive environment and it hinders the genuine development of all people – performer or not.
“Bruce Forsyth was the ultimate entertainer,” said Len Goodman and my question is who will follow in his footsteps? Robbie Williams certainly knows how to put on a show, as well as the conny and ever endearing Olly Murs. But more fundamentally, I believe we can all follow in Bruce’s footsteps – let’s get rid of those unnecessary attitudes and let’s get supportive while entertaining to the MAX!
You will be missed Bruce.