The more you practice, the luckier you get!!
Domhnall de Barra
One of television’s great entertainer’s, Bruce Forsythe, died last weekend at the ripe old age of 89. He would be better known to those on the east coast who could get BBC back in the middle of the last century for his role as MC of “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” but he was known by all for one of his last big shows “Strictly Come Dancing”. In between he starred in many high profile shows and was regarded by his peers as one of the best in the business.
Unlike today when people can have instant success, he had to learn his trade and make his way up from the bottom. I suppose it was inevitable that he would go into showbiz since his Dad was a musician and his Mum was a singer. Like all the great artists of the day he learned the tools of the trade in small halls and pubs for very little money. He was a good singer and a fantastic dancer but he also had the gift of the gab and a personality that lit up the stage whenever he was on it. For years he scraped by going from venue to venue, sometimes at the bottom of the bill and sometimes higher up until he reached the age of thirty and decided he was going to give it all up and settle down running a small shop. As luck should have it he had to finish his contract and he was spotted by a BBC producer who watched what he thought was one of his final shows. He was looking for a compeer for their new show “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” and he thought Bruce was the man for the job. How right he was and the rest, as they say, is history.
I don’t normally go overboard about British stage personalities but Bruce had something special. He had the ability to make the audience like him even when he was poking fun at them as he usually did. It was all taken for what it was; good clean fun. There was no vulgarity or sleaziness, unlike today when every second word is a swearword and nothing is left to the imagination. He will be fondly remembered by all who had the good fortune to have seen him in action and we can safely say we will not his likes again, God rest him.
There is a lesson to be learned from his life and times; nothing comes easy. Like I said before, all the great actors, comedians, singers etc had to earn their stripes the hard way. There was very little money and a lot of travel involved and sometimes the show would not go down so well but they believed in what they were doing and those that deserved it eventually got the break into the big time. Unfortunately many more did not and ended their days broke and disillusioned. Today people can become celebrities overnight just by having the right looks and the right contacts. They do not have to go through the gruelling hours of practice and rehearsal to achieve their ambitions and are paid away too much money for doing so. Look at the salaries of those who work in RTE.
Is there any great skill in being a chat show host except being able to read what the team of researchers have come up with and having the gift of the gab?. Are they more skilful or hardworking than the nurses and doctors who slave in our hospitals yet we are prepared to give them “celebrity” status and overpay them. I know the powers that be in Montrose will tell us that they won’t be able to keep their big “stars” because the going rate is dictated by what other stations pay but it is not right. By all means pay them a decent salary if what they do is appreciated by the public but do not reward some who, at best, are mediocre.
There was a time when actors, in particular, had to ply their trade on the stages throughout the country before they would be considered for film or TV. Not anymore, as can be witnessed by some of the acting in soaps like “Fair City” which would not do in any respectable theatre. There was a show one time called “Glenroe” which was very popular and starred the great Joe Lynch as “Denny”. It was set in a village in Wicklow but the only actor who made an attempt at the Wicklow accent was Joe himself. We had Dublin accents, Galway accents and many “made-up” ones but whoever the producer was did not demand that the actors learn the Wicklow accent.
Some recent productions have been very good and I don’t want to be seen as knocking RTE for the sake of it. Acting is a rare skill and if one takes it up as a profession one must be prepared to accept rejection and criticism, some of it unfounded, as part of life. Roles may not be that easy to come by so there is no great security but those who have the talent and really work at it will be rewarded.
For any budding show person I would recommend learning about the life of Bruce Forsythe. He was an example to all and a shining light in what may have been simpler times. We could do with those simpler times again.
Connection between Portuguese fishermen and Newfoundland Basilica's Fatima statues
In 1955, 4,000 Portuguese fishermen walked in procession from the waterfront to the steps of the Roman Catholic Basilica. The Basilica was marking its centenary.