Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night, 1978
By 1977 Bruce Forsyth was a household name and King of Saturday night TV with his Generation Game.
Watching the success of The Generation Game was London Weekend Television. In 1977 they poached the star from the BBC for a reported fee of £15,000 a show. The show was to be an entertainment spectacular with a mammoth budget of £250,00 a show.
Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night launched in the autumn of 1978 topping the UK TV ratings for it’s first episode. The idea behind the show was to fill ITV’s Saturday night schedule, hosted by Bruce providing him with a vehicle for his variety of talents and of course win the all important Saturday night TV ratings for ITV.
The show looked like being an instant hit when the first episode topped the ratings, however the success of the first episode was short lived. By episode two ratings had slumped with Big Night not even managing a place in the top 20. Generation Game, now hosted by Larry Grayson, was wining the ratings battle.
In a bid to stop the falling ratings the show was cut to just 90 minutes duration and moved to a much earlier Saturday night slot, but still the ratings failed to improve. Consequently Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night only lasted 12 episodes, before being axed. However there was a one off special in 1980 and it wasn’t too long before Bruce was back on top with Play Your Cards Right.
The show had a simple format: Bruce would start the show with a few gags , a special guest would come on and do a few songs , then it was sitcom time, more gags , then a quiz show , Bruce tells a few more gags and then there’d be another quiz,
For the games there was “Beat The Goalie” (a phone in game with similarities to The Golden Shot). There was also The £1000 Pyramid, based around the American game show Pyramid.
The sitcom segment featured a revival of Charlie Drake’s 1960’s sitcom ‘The Worker’ and a TV adaptation of’ ‘The Glums’ originally a series of short sketches featured in the radio series Take It From Here.
Early recordings of the show featured sketches from Cannon and Ball although these were later axed by the producer before each week’s transmission as they believed it was better to give Forsyth more time. Of course this material was later picked up and lead to the duo getting their own primetime Saturday show.
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Anthea Redfern (co-host for 10 shows)
Produced By: London Weekend Television
Originally Transmitted: 7th October – 31st December 1978
Special Transmitted: 4th April 1980