Entertainment & Arts

Sir Bruce Forsyth steps down from Strictly Come Dancing

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Media captionSir Bruce: "I think Boris Johnson would be ideal (as replacement)"

Sir Bruce Forsyth is stepping down as the regular weekly host of Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has confirmed.

He said it was the "right time to step down from the rigours" of hosting the live show, which celebrates its 12th series later this year.

The 86-year-old entertainer has co-hosted Strictly since it began in 2004. His replacement is yet to be announced.

BBC One's Charlotte Moore paid tribute to Sir Bruce saying the show's success was "due in vast amounts to him".

Sir Bruce will continue to present one-off specials of the show such as Strictly Christmas Special and the Strictly Children in Need Special.

"After 10 wonderful years and 11 series, I believe it is now the right time to step down from the rigours of presenting the Strictly live shows," said Sir Bruce.

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Media captionAnn Widdecombe: "He always told me I was his favourite"

He told the BBC News Channel that he would miss the show but would be "watching intently".

"I've always said that at the end of last series I was getting that feeling, 'Is this the time?'," Sir Bruce revealed.

"I've just been on my three month break in the Caribbean, I've been thinking about it all the time."

He continued: "[Live television] takes its toll when you've been doing it for many years, it's a pressure thing.

"But I'm not retiring, that's the last thing in the world I want to do. This isn't Brucie walking into the sunset."

The presenter, who was knighted in 2011, missed a number of shows last series due to illness.

He quit the results show in 2010 and was replaced by Claudia Winkleman. The results show is recorded immediately after the live show on a Saturday.

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Media captionStrictly judge Len Goodman: "Bruce was the heart of the show"

Sir Bruce said phoning co-presenter Tess Daly to break the news had been "like a boyfriend breaking up with his girl."

"She was in tears and started me off a bit. It's sad, I've loved doing it," he said.

"But there are times when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Should you be doing this any longer? That was our biggest series last year that we've ever had so it's a high to go off on."

One of the show's previous contestants, Anne Widdecombe, told BBC News: "His particular character and personality went a long way to making the show what it is.

"It's extremely gruelling stuff and particularly for someone of his age," she added. "He's decided to go while he's still ahead and I think that's right."

BBC One controller Moore added: "Sir Bruce Forsyth is one of the great showbiz legends of our time.

Image copyright Karen Hauer
Image caption Series professionals Kevin Clifton and Karen Hauer tweeted this tribute

"I am so pleased he will continue to be part of the Strictly family and promise viewers that we haven't seen the last of him on BBC One."

Forsyth first appeared on the BBC on a talent show in 1939, and has been a regular on television for almost 60 years.

Strictly Come Dancing - which runs across the autumn - has brought him a new generation of fans but in recent years, he has talked in interviews about how he would like to spend more time abroad to avoid the cold winters in the UK.

Len Goodman, head judge on the show, called him "the driving force" of the show, and praised his "warm and cuddly" personality.

But he agreed it was a rigorous schedule, particularly for the hosts: "He's done Strictly for 10 years, so he deserves to put his feet up a bit," he told BBC News.

Mark Linsey, the BBC's controller of entertainment commissioning, said: "One of the joys of my job is working with Sir Bruce Forsyth and long may that continue.

"He is the all-time master and commander when it comes to Great British entertainers and Strictly owes him such a great deal."

"This is not a farewell, but you can't blame him for wanting to take things a little bit easier."

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