Leading figures in Blackpool’s entertainment world say they are saddened by news Sir Bruce Forsyth has stepped down from presenting Strictly Come Dancing.
After a decade fronting the hit BBC show – filmed in Blackpool on several occasions – the 86-year-old said he believed it “was the right time” for him finish hosting.
He will remain to present the Strictly Christmas special, the Strictly Children in Need special and other one-offs yet to be announced.
He said: “I’m very proud of what the show has achieved and confident it will entertain the nation for many years to come. I am looking forward to the specials planned with the BBC – I am not retiring yet!”
The veteran presenter missed a number of shows last series due to illness.
When Strictly appeared for the first time in 2004, there was huge hype around the show’s final being held in Blackpool. The Tower Ballroom hosted a special edition in November 2009, another live heat in 2010, glittering final in 2011 and another heat last year.
Michael Williams, managing director of The Winter Gardens, said: “I met Bruce a couple of times when he came to Blackpool with Strictly and he was a real gentleman.
“We will be sorry to see him go, I think it is a great shame, but it was a very challenging schedule of filming.”
Kate Shane, general manager of Blackpool Tower, said: “We loved having Brucie here.
“It was great just having him in the building. The team really enjoyed working with him and it was a real pleasure to meet him.
“It’s sad for Strictly fans, but we are excited to see who they will announce as the new host. Brucie will no doubt be missed on the show, but he is welcome to come and twinkle his toes on our beautiful ballroom dance-floor any time he likes.”
And Hayley Dancy, principal at Cats with Red Shoes Dance School, in South Shore, said: “He will be missed. He has done so much for dancing and he is a real veteran. He knows what he’s talking about it and is a fantastic dancer.
“It will be a shame for the show because he showed older people can dance too, as well as younger people. But it will be nice to see who will take over from him.”
Last year The Gazette’s Lost Archives supplement published a number of pictures showing Sir Bruce relaxing with his family more than half a century ago, when the star lived in South Shore,while headlining a season at North Pier.