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A BRUCE FORSYTH TALE : the origins of his famous catchphrases


The following story is adapted from the autobiography of ” bruce forsyth ” who was once host of the 1970’s bbc 1 show 
” the generation game ” and now ” strictly come dancing ” and the following tale explains the origins of two of his famous 
catchphrases that he used originally on ” the generation game ” in the 1970’s and ” play your cards rights ” in the 1980’s as 
you will read …

Once upon a time not so long ago i was reading a few pages of a book written by the entertainer ” bruce forsyth ” and he 
was telling a story about his childhood in the opening pages and he was saying that he was brought up in north london so it 
was natural for him to support ” arsenal fc ” but when war was declared in 1939 ” highbury ” arsenal’s football ground was 
closed and used as a searchlight base which meant ol ‘ brucie decided to support ” tottenham hotspur ” due to their ground 
still being open occasionally for practice matches …
Anyway before the outbreak of the war and the football league being disbanded until the 1946 – 47 season ” brucie and his 
dad ” would go to highbury and watch ” the woolwich arsenal or the arsenal ” on a regular basis and he said in his book that 
him and his dad would sit near the players tunnel on the terraces and watch the players run out onto the pitch and then one 
day as the players came out for the first half and to warm up brucie said : ” i shouted out nice to see yer to see yer nice ” 
which is a very old london cockney expression and after a few times of shouting this at every home match i noticed the 
arsenal players look over and smile and one day as the players ran out i shouted out ” nice to see yer to see yer nice ” and 
one of the players as they ran past shouted out : ” nice to see you to son ” …
So at every home match ” brucie and his dad ” would stand in the same place on the terraces beside the players tunnel and 
after he had shouted out his ” nice to see yer to see yer nice ” expression the players had begun to pick up his anthem so 
one day the arsenal players as they ran out shouted out ” nice to see yer to see yer nice son ” and smiled at ” brucie ” 
standing on the terraces which led ” bruce’s dad ” one day after the full time whistle to ask one of the players if they could 
autograph his son’s programme , so the player ” joe hulme ” as he held the programme said : ” i’ll see what i can do for the 
boy ” and 20 minutes later ” joe hulme ” returned to the pitch with a signed programme by the first team with the 
expression ” nice to see yer to see yer nice son from the arsenal ” …
Sbruce said : ” that is where one of my expressions came from ” and then he carried on and said when him and his 
dad were at ” the arsenal ” one saturday afternoon one of the arsenal players ran up the touchline to collect the ball for a 
throw in and being that ” the arsenal ” were a goal up bruce said : ” i shouted out good game good game good game ” 
and the player ” cliff bastin ” shouted out : ” it is now son ” and ” the arsenal ” went on to win by 3 goals to 1 and this 
became another expression that i used to shout out at every home match …
Much later in brucie’s life after he had become famous and was a host and entertainer he said : ” i was asked to be the host 
of  ” the generation game ” and after getting the job and doing the initial pilot shows i was sitting in my dressing room at 
the BBC and a thought came to me that i needed a catchphrase that would introduce me to the audience when i began the 
show so i began writing out phrases with a sense of humour but none of them fitted with my train of thought ” …
So one evening after a rehearsal he said : ” i was walking back to my dressing room and a make up girl walked past me and 
said ” nice to see you again mr forsyth ” and of course when i heard that immediately the memory of being at ” the arsenal ” 
on a saturday afternoon came to me of when i used to shout out ” nice to see yer to see yer nice ” and i went into my 
dressing room and coined an opening line to the show coupled with my childhood football phrase and then i coined the 
phrase when my hostess came on ” anthea redfern ” in one of her beautiful dresses which was ” give us a twirl ” and 
during the show and at the end when we used to do ” the conveyer belt with the classic fondue set and cuddly toy ” i then 
used my other football phrase of ” good game good game good game ” and of course when the show became a regular 
saturday night feature these phrases became more famous than me and i’m the one who created them ” …
And they all said nice to see yer to see yer nice happily ever after …
Bruce forsyth’s great , great , great , great grandfather ” william forsyth ” who was born in 1737 – 1804 was a founder of  
” the royal horticultural society ” and his surname named the plant genus ” forsythia ” …
Bruce’s parents owned a car repair garage in edmonton in london and being that they were in ” the salvation army ” they 
both could play brass instruments and his mum was a singer …
Bruce forsyth began his interest in TV by watching ” fred astaire ” films from the age of 8 which led him to studying dance 
at a school in tottenham and brixton and this led him to have his first television appearance in 1939 at the age of 11 when he 
was on a talent show introduced by ” jasmine bligh ” on radio olympia  and at the age of 14 he began his career with a 
singing , dancing and accordion act called ” boy bruce the mighty atom ” …
 And he said good game , good game , good game happily ever after …


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