It was an honour to work with Sir Bruce Forsyth – Sir Elton John

The impact of Sir Bruce Forsyth’s death has been felt by many.
The impact of Sir Bruce Forsyth’s death has been felt by many. The impact of Sir Bruce Forsyth’s death has been felt by many.

Sir Elton John has said it was an “honour” to work with Sir Bruce Forsyth, following the entertainer’s death aged 89.

The singer paid tribute to the “brilliant comedian, television host and lovely man” on social media, recalling the time they sang together nearly 40 years ago.

Sir Elton, 70, wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear about the death of the legendary Bruce Forsyth.

“It was such an honour to work with him. My condolences to his family. #RIP”

In 1978, Sir Elton was joined in a joke-filled performance of his track Your Song by Sir Bruce on one of his TV shows, and he posted a picture from their time on-stage together with his tribute.

In a separate Instagram message, Sir Elton said that the entertainer was “a treasured part of my life since I was a young boy”.

Sir Bruce’s family announced his death on Friday in a statement saying the TV veteran had “passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children”.

In the statement, his manager Ian Wilson continued: “A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last 18 months.

“With a twinkle in his eye, he responded ‘I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!’ Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.”

Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Bruce Forsyth (PA/PA Wire/PA Images)
Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia in the Royal Box on Centre Court at Wimbledon in 2011 (PA Wire/PA)

The family thanked everyone for their well wishes to Sir Bruce “over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel”.

Comedian and singer Russ Abbot, another of the many stars to speak about Sir Bruce, said “there will never be another Bruce”.

In a statement to the Press Association, Abbot said: “A great, great loss to the country and personally a great loss to me as a friend. Our thoughts are with Winnie and the family.”

Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck credited him with “changing his life”.

Tarbuck, 77, recalled his first meeting with Sir Bruce as he spoke of their friendship.

He told BBC Breakfast: “He was always Mr Forsyth to me because he did help change my life. He was unique – he could play the piano with Nat King Cole, he could dance with Sammy Davis Jr, he could take over Have I Got News For You, and most importantly he could annoy Sean Connery on the golf course, which always tickled me.”

Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Bruce Forsyth (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire/PA Images)
Sir Bruce was well-known for his love of golf (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Tarbuck and Sir Bruce first met on October 27 1963 when Tarbuck appeared on Sunday Night At The Palladium as a guest.

“He was unique, he was well-dressed, he was good fun, he was meticulous,” Tarbuck told BBC Breakfast, adding: “He looked after himself. He liked a drink – Bourbon, two fingers, no ice.”

Sir Bruce’s former Strictly Come Dancing co-stars Tess Daly, Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Claudia Winkleman, broadcasters Piers Morgan, Chris Evans and Stephen Fry and the Prime Minister Theresa May are among the many others to have paid tribute to the beloved entertainer.

Sir Bruce leaves behind six children and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as his third wife, former Miss World, Lady Wilnelia Merced.

Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Bruce Forsyth
Sir Bruce Forsyth (Joel Ryan/AP/PA)

He was taken to hospital in March and spent five nights in intensive care at St Peter’s Hospital in Surrey after developing a severe chest infection, according to reports.

He underwent surgery in 2015 after he suffered two aneurysms, which were discovered when tests were carried out following a fall at his Surrey home.

The veteran entertainer, whose career lasted more than seven decades and saw him work on programmes such as The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and Tonight At The London Palladium among many others, had been out of the limelight for a while.

Last year he was too frail to attend the funerals of close friends Ronnie Corbett and Sir Terry Wogan.

He announced he was leaving Strictly in April 2014, after nearly 10 years as the presenter of the show.