I’ll miss him now he’s gone. A bit like the Queen, Bruce Forsyth has provided a pleasing background continuity to my life.
We’re like an old couple really: we had our first date on The Generation Game, then we went our separate ways both busy with other projects - him with marrying Miss World, me with a life and two children - but then we reunited for Strictly Come Dancing, which has been a delight.
Because those of you who have stuck with me will know I like a bit of dancing.
For four years I took my reluctant husband dancing every Tuesday night. I carried on even after he stood on my foot so badly I needed an x-ray for a suspected fracture; I carried on even when I was so ill I was sick on my dance shoes.
But I don’t go now. It’s a long story. Let’s cut it short and say it’s my husband’s fault.
Still, I love Strictly, even though I never recognise any of the dances. Their foxtrot is like none I ever danced, their samba would have had me in intensive care.
But Bruce was just right. As the show became slicker, it needed him more. There are only so many mega-watt smiles, so many “journeys”, so much fake tan, so much empathy a person can take, without needing an elderly man with a big chin and a propensity to fluff his lines to make it all British and nice.
Strictly Come Dancing is already a hit in America, but without Bruce it would have become too American years ago - a processed cheese of a show.
Bruce gave it a whiff of old music hall, a dash of wartime spirit, a glimpse of the dreary Seventies.
He made it endearing with his lame jokes and dodgy delivery and tactless comments.
But he is going the way of Arlene, the judge who was sacked from the show for being too old even though she was a great deal younger than Bruce, though in Bruce’s case it is a voluntary severance, and he says he will come back for the one-off specials.Haybne
So now there is an empty spotlight and a tense silence. Who will replace him in one of the biggest prime time slots on the BBC? Our celebrities will be doing that thing that swans do: gliding serenely on the surface, while paddling madly under the water in their efforts to bag the job.
The word is that Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will emerge the winners, making them the first female pairing to host a prime time Saturday night show.
Tess will do the Brucie role, having a giggle with the judges and introducing the nervous contestants and Claudia will interview them at the laughing/crying stage afterwards. I hope this is what happens, because both women have already proved themselves on the show.
I mean, they’re not perfect, Tess has her awful coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to live down, and she is bizarrely keen on one-shoulder dresses.
But she can hold the show well enough, remembers everyone’s name, delivers the punchlines, and knows when the camera is on her - all of which can be problematic for Bruce.
And she would have the perfect partner in Claudia Winkleman, who with her eccentric headgirl manner and that fringe is a good contrast to the more bland, tanned Tess.
There are other names still in the frame, chief among them Graham Norton, who is currently the BBC go-to guy, charged with doing anything that Terry Wogan would once have done.
But I’m hoping it really is Tess and Claudia: one small dance step for woman, one giant leap for womankind - okay maybe not that important, but a good day for the girls.