AFTER months of speculation and rumour, Sir Bruce Forsyth has officially confirmed that he is stepping down as presenter of the hit BBC1 series Strictly Come Dancing.
Having presented the show for a decade, he said it was the “right time to step down from the rigours” of hosting the popular programme – a consistent Saturday night ratings winner.
However he will continue to work on pre-recorded Strictly shows for Christmas and Children In Need as well as one-off BBC specials, and said he will also be performing in theatres.
The future of the 86-year-old broadcasting veteran had been discussed for some months. He had already scaled back some of his commitments, stepping down from the weekly results show and writing occasional rest weeks into his deal with show bosses.
The presenter – who has been in showbusiness since childhood – had also talked in interviews about how he would liked to spend more time abroad to avoid the cold winters in the UK.
Sir Bruce said: “After 10 wonderful years and 11 series, I believe it is now the right time to step down from the rigours of presenting the Strictly live shows.
“I am very proud of what the show has achieved and confident it will entertain the nation for many years to come.
“I am also delighted that by presenting the Christmas and Children In Need shows I will continue to have a strong association with Strictly. In addition, I am looking forward to the specials planned with the BBC as well as some live theatre shows, so before anyone asks, I am not retiring quite yet.”
BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: “Sir Bruce Forsyth is one of the great showbiz legends of our time and Strictly’s success is due in vast amounts to him. I am so pleased he will continue to be part of the Strictly family and promise viewers that we haven’t seen the last of him on BBC1.”
Mark Linsey, the BBC’s controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “One of the joys of my job is working with Sir Bruce Forsyth and long may that continue.
“He is the all-time master and commander when it comes to Great British entertainers and Strictly owes him such a great deal. This is not a farewell, but you can’t blame him for wanting to take things a little bit easier.”
Strictly Come Dancing will return in the Autumn. In recent years it has trashed its Saturday night ITV rival The X Factor in the ratings, but the singing contest is hoping to revitalise its audience by bringing back Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole to the judging panel later this year.