I won't make any bones about it. I was absolutely delighted when I heard the news yesterday morning that Bruce Forsyth has been Knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Sir Ronnie Barker?
I have always felt that the entertainment industry has always been short-changed by the honours system. It seems that the ability to raise a smile and to raise a laugh has been deemed of lesser importance that sporting prowess or political longevity. This isn't too ridicule these two professions of course as anyone who knows me will testify that politics and sport are two of the cornerstones of my life. But then so is comedy and that absolutely wonderful ability to make people laugh and to make people feel happy is not to be underestimated.
Some of my heroes include the likes of Nelson Mandela and Nigel Mansell, but they also include greats such as Eric Morecambe, Ronnie Barker and Freddie Mercury - born entertainers who knew how to work an audience and to make a positive contribution to their lives.
I personally find it greatly frustrating that Ronnie Barker was never Knighted. He was awarded the OBE in 1978 and yet, despite retiring a decade later, was never given what I felt he justly deserved over the two following decades that he lived before he died aged 76 in 2005. It can not be said that he died too young to have been given the accolade - years came by and passed and the recognition that was bestowed on his protegee the great Sir David Jason was never afforded to his even greater mentor. Ironically, Jason was officially knighted on December 1st 2005, just weeks after Barker passed away on October 3rd.
Bruce Forsyth and me...
One of the greatest oversights in recent years it has been felt by many, is the overlooking of Bruce Forsyth for a Knighthood. He was given the CBE in 2006 but there has been a growing outcry both in the country and even to a lesser extent, in Parliament, for him to receive a Knighthood that is often bestowed on civil servants and diplomats who already get paid handsomly for doing their jobs.
It started so well. My opening rendition of "Nice to see you, to see you..." resulted in a loud "Nice!" from the audience! I then introduced my 'glamorous assistant' Helena to the stage with those immortal words, "Here she is, she's so appealing, come on dolly, do your dealing!" to which she enthusiastically bounded on stage and began dealing the cards as required. It was going so well but I should've realised that I shouldn't have pushed my luck and that the young-ish audience in front of me may not have been as devout fans of Bruce Forsyth as I was. So it passed, that when I explained the rules to the newly chosen contestants on stage, I reminded the audience that you get "Nothing for a pair..." to which one lone voice in the back of the crowd yelped out "Not in this game!"
From what I recall, it was downhill from there and I had trouble managing the crowd and keeping the game on track! Maybe I'm being too hard on myself but it certainly remains in my head as not being one of my finest hours! But I nevertheless now look back fondly on it as a bit of fun that was all for a good cause!
Arise Sir Bruce!
In recent years, many have argued with me that Sir Bruce should retire from hosting Strictly Come Dancing as his age is beginning to show. Absolutely not I reply vehemently! Let him continue for as long as he himself deems fit. It is an often overused term, but he really is a national institution
For being a one-off that has entertained millions and made us howl and cry with laughter on programmes such as the Generation Game over the years and indeed for the 'services to Entertainment and to Charity' which has officially entitled him to the honour, I am delighted to proclaim, at long, long last...
Congratulations, Sir Bruce Forsyth!