Bruce Forsyth's Big Night
Bruce Forsyth's Big Night was a TV show screened on ITV on Saturday nights in late 1978. It starred Bruce Forsyth. 12 episodes were broadcast between 7 October and 31 December 1978. A further one-off special was shown on 21 September 1980 where Forsyth got the chance of a lifetime to perform an hour long show with idol and long-time friend Sammy Davis Jr, who had been a guest on an earlier show.
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 (equivalent to £86,688 in 2019) with each show having a budget of £250,000 (equivalent to £1,444,796 in 2019). 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 Forsyth's other big hit The Generation Game (hosted then 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!