PICTURES: Bruce Forsyth's love affair with Blackpool
Tributes have been paid to TV legend Bruce Forsyth, who has died at the age of 89.
The former Strictly Come Dancing presenter had been unwell for some time and was in hospital earlier this year after a severe chest infection.
Kate Shane, general manager for Merlin’s Blackpool attractions who met Sir Bruce several times during the filming of Strictly Come Dancing at the Blackpool Tower, said: “He was a lovely chap, a gentleman and a professional. He had a huge personality, charm and charisma.
“He always had an eye for the audience and he really did fill a room.
“One of my most vivid memories was during the filming of one of the Blackpool Strictly shows when he had the Switch-On box for the Illuminations in the ballroom.
“I think it was to open one of the Sunday night shows. I was watching with some of the sound guys as he was messing with the big lever and he had everyone in stitches.
“He was a true professional but always had that twinkle in his eye and loved a laugh. He was naturally funny.
“I will always remember him from the Generation Game on Saturday nights when I was young. It was a huge show and he was a British icon. He will be sadly missed.”
Forsyth was a one time billtopper in the resort.
The song and dance man first appeared in Blackpool in 1946 when he played with Jack Jackson’s Band at the Palace Theatre.
In the late 1950s he found TV stardom with Sunday Night at the London Palladium, coining the catchphrase “I’m in charge” as volunteers tried to Beat The Clock.
In 1960 he was in charge of his own summer season show, Bernard Delfont’s Show Time at the North Pier Pavilion – seldom off stage.
Also in the show was his Irish-born wife, under her stage name Penny Calvert, who proved a versatile singer and dancer.
They had two children Deborah and Julie and rented a home in South Shore for the season.
The couple divorced in 1968.
Bruce returned to the resort to star in the summer season show at the Opera House in 1967, alongside Millicent Martin, and brought his own one man show to the Opera House on Easter Monday 1975.
His last visit other than Strictly was An Evening with Bruce Forsyth at the Grand Theatre in June 1988.
Away from the stage there were a few whirlwind visits.
One saw him at Weeton Army Camp making a TV advert about that margarine “which can be spread with nothing on” alongside Poulton Girl Guides in December 1976.