Matt Ball
06/09/2011 19:25 | By Matt Ball, MSN UK editor-in-chief

Sir Bruce Forsyth's top 20 catchphrases

Sir Bruce Forsyth, as we can now call him, is also the man who has coined many a TV catchphrase.


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Alex Jones

Sir Bruce Forsyth (© PA)

Sir Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth's catchphrases have become legendary.

Here we count down (in reverse order) the all-time top 20 - the very best, the cream of the crop of catchphrases from Brucie's six decades in show business.  

20. "You're my favourites."
Strictly Come Dancing fans will be familiar with this catchphrase.

A couple who have taken a pasting from the judges will be most relieved to be told by Brucie not to worry because: "You're my favourites."

This has proved so successful that some contestants now ask him whether they are his favourites before he has a chance to say it himself.

However, it's not my favourite Brucie catchphrase and I can see little hope of it having much of a shelf life beyond the show, hence its position at number 20.

19. "And from everyone here – and I do mean everyone – keeeep dancing."
This is how Brucie and co-host Tess Daly end each Strictly Come Dancing show. I'm not convinced it will stand the test of time as a catchphrase but it is an OK way to bring a Saturday night dancing show to a close. 

18. "It's a bit Mother Goose, isn't it?"
Now this is one of two for true Brucie connoisseurs. He never uses "It's a bit Mother Goose, isn't it?" on set, but he apparently says it during rehearsals when he thinks something is a bit old-fashioned.

Those working with him have been known to use it to take the mickey. So now you know.

17. "Print it, print it."
And this is the second of two for true Brucie connoisseurs. He says: "Print it, print it" during rehearsals when a particular item is good enough for the show. Now which other website would give you a piece of information like that? Hurrah for MSN, eh?

16. "We asked a hundred people…"
To gain control of the playing cards on Play Your Cards Right contestants had to answer questions that were based on surveys of the great British public.

The style in which these questions were asked was: "We asked a hundred people…" whether they did a particular thing.

Soon comedy shows and impressionists were mimicking this format, demonstrating yet again how catchy Brucie's catchphrases were.

My favourite from the show was: "We asked a hundred policemen whether they broke the speed limit while off duty." If I remember correctly the answer was 93.

15. "Do you wanna bet on it?"
When Brucie asked the audience of game show You Bet!: "Do you wanna bet on it?" The audience would reply: "You bet!"

The show, based on a format that ITV had acquired from a German programme, was never one of Brucie's best and he left in March 1990 to be replaced by Matthew Kelly.

14. "Oh, wasn't that a shame!"
If a contestant lost a round on The Price is Right Brucie would say: "Oh, wasn't that a shame." The audience would reply: "Shame!"

13. "You're such a lovely audience, so much better than last week's."
This was how Brucie would address the spectators who had come to watch Play Your Cards Right.

Of course, the real joke was on the viewers at home because he used to record two episodes of the weekly show in a day in front of the same audience and would use this catchphrase at the start of the second show.

I can't imagine Tarby coming up with something as brilliant as that, can you?

12. "A chance to go for the car."
The couple who won through to the final round of Play Your Cards Right got, as Brucie explained to the audience, "a chance to go for the car."

Brucie would clap his hands together once and then gesticulate to the audience who would immediately reply: "Oooh!" for some reason or other.

Brucie would do this every week and carry it off so convincingly that it became a key part of the show's format.

11. "Higher!" "Lower!"
Yet another from Play Your Cards Right, the show that spawned more catchphrases than any other as far as I can tell.

Contestants had to guess whether the next playing card's value would be higher or lower than the previous one's - not, you would think, the most exciting or intellectually taxing thing in the world.

However Brucie, ever the showman, would take it to a whole new level by getting the audience involved. "What do you think?" he would ask before egging them on with either "Higher!" or "Lower!"

Now if that isn't compulsive viewing, I don't know what is.

10."I'm the leader of the pack which makes me such a lucky jack. And here they are, they're so appealing, OK dollies do your dealing."
This was how Brucie introduced his wonderful assistants on Play Your Cards Right. For a time during the show's run, concerns over political correctness forced him to stop referring to the assistants as dollies, but the term was brought back later.

9. "All right, my loves?"
This was used by Brucie during the Generation Game. When he had explained to a hapless couple how to do a particular task he would check that they'd got the idea by asking: "All right, my loves?"

8. "Give us a twirl!"
Introducing his Generation Game assistant Anthea Redfern, Brucie always commented on her dresses. These were made by designer Linda Martin and were quite glam for the 1970s.

On one occasion Brucie blurted out: "Oh Anthea, that's lovely. Let the viewers see the back of your dress. Come on, give us a twirl." It was another ad-lib that became a Forsyth phrase.

Anthea soon became (the second) Mrs Forsyth, though they later divorced.

7. "You get nothing for a pair!"
This formed a vital part of all Mr Forsyth's game shows. It was, as the name suggests, an extra prize. On Play Your Cards Right, if two cards of the same value appeared consecutively the contestant would lose their turn.

Brucie would turn to the audience and say: "You get nothing for a pair." The audience would reply: "Not in this game."

Brucie's autobiography records the phase as: "You don't get anything for a pair," but it is not this version that has stuck in the public's mind.

A brilliant parody of this catchphrase appeared on Baddiel and Skinner’s Fantasy Football show when they did a sketch called Play Your Inside Right.

The deck of cards they used had photos of football players instead of the usual suits and values.

Turning over the last card which had a photo of Celtic and Manchester United striker Brian McClair, on it Frank Skinner (who was impersonating Brucie) exclaimed: "You get nothing for McClair," which was followed by the usual audience reply.

6. "What do points make?"
Another game show classic from the maestro. Explaining the rules of a show he would note that contestants needed to accumulate points and would then ask the audience: "What do points make?" The audience would reply: "Prizes!"

5. "Good game, good game!"
The Generation Game invariably had games that were not good, but to save the day Brucie used to whip up the audience with: "Good game, good game."

As he says in his autobiography: "When I said this it was usually because it was a terrible game and we needed some applause! This catchphrase saved the moment so many times …[and it] still follows me around the golf course today."

4. "I'm in charge!"
This is a very important catchphrase because it was Brucie's first, which is why it receives such a high placing in our ranking. It is also one of three Brucisms that have appeared in the Oxford Book of Quotations (the other two are ranked second and first in our list).

"I'm in charge" was originally used during a game called Beat the Clock which formed part of Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the late 1950s (a variety show which gave Brucie his big break on TV.

He earned £85 a week for hosting the first series).

Brucie was trying to show a couple how to throw plates onto a table tennis table balanced on a trestle (yes, really) but they began to do it before he could start the clock. "Wait a minute, wait a minute!" exclaimed Brucie, "It's my game. I’m in charge."

As he says in his autobiography: "It was just an ad-lib moment… and after that you heard it everywhere.

People even used to put it on the back of cars and lorries." Younger readers may not be familiar with "I'm in charge," however as it has fallen out of common usage. A sad loss, I'm sure you'll agree.

3. "Didn't he do well?"
While working on the Generation Game, Brucie was told to find a way to link from the contestant finishing the conveyor belt memory game (cuddly toy, fondue set etc) to the moment when he walked back on screen.

"All right," he replied, "I'll just say: 'Didn't he do well?' It's not the greatest line in the world, but it'll do." According to his autobiography: "Before we knew where we were another catchphrase had been born.

It was being used everywhere – and still is in today’s newspapers. The secret of a really good catchphrase, it seems, is to give people something they can have fun with themselves." And who are we to argue with that?

2. "Cuddly toy, cuddly toy!"
Another Generation Game favourite. This one referred to the one item that always featured on the famous converyor belt.

1. "Nice to see you, to see you…"
And so we come to the grand daddy of all catchphrases, the one that has truly stood the test of time, lasting over five decades.

At the start of any of his shows Brucie says: "Nice to see you, to see you…" which the audience completes by replying: "…nice!"

Catchphrase historians (and there are many of those, I can tell you) will know that it had a particularly interesting route to glory.

It was brought to life in the mid-1960s when Brucie recorded six hour-long specials for ABC (which later became Thames Television).

He rehearsed it with the audience before each show but it did not catch on with the general public until he did a television commercial for TV Times.

In the advert Brucie was in a pub reading the magazine when a man came up to him and asked: "It is you, isn't it? It is you. Yes… with a straight cut waistcoat. And what is it? Nice to see to see you nice."

And after that it caught on, the irony being that it took someone other than Brucie saying it to make it stick in the public's mind.

I'd also like to point out the beautiful linguistic symmetry of this catchphrase. It forms what linguists call a chiasmus – an inversion in the second phrase of the order used in the first phrase.

You can find some terrific examples of this device in roman poet Virgil's epic Aeneid.

So there you have it, folks. Sir Bruce Forsyth, we salute you.

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