Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night
Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night was a TV show screened on ITV on Saturday nights throughout the autumn and winter of 1978. It starred Bruce Forsyth. A total of 12 episodes were broadcast between October 7, and December 31, 1978. A further one off special was shown on April 4, 1980.
The show was made by London Weekend Television. Following the huge success enjoyed by The Generation Game, Forsyth was poached from the BBC for a reported £15,000 a show with each show having a budget of £250,000. The idea was that the show would provide Bruce with a vehicle for his many and various talents. The show was designed to take up an entire Saturday evening on ITV and win the ratings battle with the BBC. However, it was poorly received and was broadly unsuccessful with The Generation Game (now hosted by Larry Grayson) winning higher audiences. The first episode topped the UK television ratings, but episode two didn’t feature in the top 20, causing several attempts to revamp the format. Eventually, the show was cut to just 90 minutes in length and moved to a much earlier Saturday night slot, but still the ratings did not improve. Forsyth claimed in many subsequent on-screen interviews that the retooling did result in an increase in ratings, but this was not borne out by contemporary data.
The show featured some mini-games, like “Beat The Goalie” (a phone-in game with similarities to The Golden Shot) and little games with the studio audience – it also featured mini-comedies, such as a revival of 1960s series The Worker, with Charlie Drake as The Worker and Henry McGee (one of Benny Hill‘s stooges) as the man at the labour exchange, and also The Glums, a TV adaptation of short sketches from the radio series Take It From Here, with Jimmy Edwards reprising his role he immortalised on radio as Mr Glum, Ian Lavender (Private Pike from Dad’s Army) playing the role of Ron (played by Dick Bentley in the radio series) and Patricia Brake as Eth, the role played on radio by June Whitfield. Both those series were eventually made into a full series in their own right, but they were short-lived. The show also featured Cannon and Ball doing their own sketches, but the producer decided to axe their part from the show every single week, as they believed more Bruce was the answer to the problems to the show.
Each show also featured a game of The £1,000 Pyramid, hosted by Steve Jones, which was the first UK adaption of the popular American game show Pyramid. This show later became a standalone programme on ITV, with Jones remaining as host. In addition, Jones would go on to be one of the hosts of the UK adaptation of Jeopardy!
7.25pm: Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night
Bruce in sparkling style fronting his brand new star-spangled series of 12 entertainment specials. Games for the studio audience plus viewers at home, situation comedies, music, celebrity spots and, what’s more, Anthea Redfern helps Bruce to host the shows.
Games included Teletennis, Beat the Goalie, and the £1,000 Pyramid. The first episode features situation comedies based on The Glums, starring Jimmy Edwards, Ian Lavender and Patricia Brake, plus Charlie Drake as The Worker, with Henry McGee. Rod Hull & Emu were visiting towns around the country, and Bette Midler performed with Alyn Ainsworth & his Orchestra.
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