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Play Your Cards Right

" much better than last week's"IT’S 5.15PM, work’s over, Thames have fucked off, “and dealing the first hand of the weekend, right on time, Bruce Forsyth.” Hooray! It’s massively over-spent lavish LE bollocks from the South Bank till Sunday. US import, piss-easy rules, BOB MONKHOUSE turned it down, lifeline for post-BIG NIGHT in-the-doldrums FORSYTH. Early years the best, with the man still at his peak, a-riffing and a-gurning round endless reworkings of how-stupid-is-this-person patter. Absolute skeleton of a premise guaranteed, nay, demanded, full deployment of Brucie armoury leading to stunning parade of phraseology (“Get nothing for a pair…Could still be a big night…Hang loose/back in a deuce…” etc.) Toss in hapless punters and bevy of giant-sized card wielding fatales, and resulting money-spinner kept LWT in pocket during alleged early 80s pauper years. Highlight of highlights: after dutifully checking with the floor manager (“How long have we got?”), spare transmission minutes would be utilised for show-stealing here’s-a-fiver routine with the host effortlessly working the entire studio audience. Typical later decline, with Bruce getting bored, buggering off to the BBC, then getting bored again, jumping back again for more money, then throwing childish hissy fit at David Liddiment.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    September 28, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    …or “Play Your Kurds Right”, which was the original (and banned) name for this segment when Brucie hosted “Have I Got News For You, For You Have I Got…..News”!

  2. David Smith

    September 6, 2017 at 7:24 am

    All the recent articles and obits in the wake of Brucie’s sad passing (many of the best of which coming from TV Cream, natch), have awakened a buried PYCR memory – can you guys, or any readers, back me up on it?

    Classic/”imperial phase” era episodes used to kick off of course with Brucie’s opening gag, usually based around the “What a lovely audience/you’re so much better than last week/ooh, you have cheered me up…” formula. But – does anybody else remember one random week when, as a one-off, the great man dispensed with a gag and instead called out “Dolly Dealers…!”, whereupon he and the laydees embarked upon an elaborate and tightly-drilled dance routine, to the strains of the PYCR feem toon?

    I remember at the time it seemed like it went on for about five minutes(!) but it probably was more like 1.5 tops. What I remember more clearly though is that when said routine was through, Brucie resumed his dialogue with the studio audience, saying something along the lines of “Yes, well, we just thought we’d do a dance routine this week instead of an opening joke. [KILLER PAUSE] Yes, I heard that Doris, you thought the dance routine *was* the opening joke…”

    So, like I say, anybody back me up on this one? Definitely from an early episode in the run, the years which are (currently, more’s the pity) poorly catered for by YouTube and Challenge TV…

  3. Droogie

    July 7, 2020 at 12:59 am

    Does anyone else recall BrucIe displayIng his new hairpiece to the British public on PYCR? The photo above shows him pre-toupee , but I swear I saw him make a couple of wig jokes on the show when he reappeared with a new magical head of hair. ( rubbish puns about rugs and mat finishes .)
    He never acknowledged his dodgy syrup again!

    • George White

      July 8, 2020 at 9:46 am

      I think in Goliath Awaits, he’s balding too.
      EDIT: He’s def. wearing a top toup. The front is balding, but he’s definitely wearing some topping at the back.

      Any of you guys ever seen TVNZ’s Play Your Cards, hosted by Kenny Cantor, one of the lower level joke-tellers on Granada’s the Comedians, who then moved to Rhodesia, had his own TV show there, and then toured the cruises. Somehow ended up in Zew Nealand, but then returned home and become something of a local celeb in Lowestoft. Almost a real life Count Arthur.

  4. richardpd

    July 7, 2020 at 10:34 am

    These days baldness doesn’t seem to be an issue, & celebrities don’t bother with wearing dodgy toupees any more, apart from the odd vain one who has a hair transplant like Elton John or Wayne Rooney.

    Reginald Bosenquet was one wearer, but apparently he had an inflamed scalp which meant he had to keep his hair very short.

    It was rumoured that Terry Wogan’s hair was a wig due to it’s thickness, but it seems not to be true.

    At least Paul Daniels gave up his rug in the mid 1980s.

    William Shatner is still holding out, unless his hair became darker & curlier in the 1970s.

  5. Droogie

    July 7, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    I was surprised when I found out Frankie Howard wore a wig . His hair looked so awful you couldn’t believe a hairpiece could be that bad! I was similarly surprised learning Harry H Corbett wore a rug. Edward Woodward had a decent one, but let it go in later years. The Jason Statham look seems popular now for thinning actors, but there’s still quite a few celebs having secret transplants. James Nesbitt and Jimmy Carr have at least admitted theirs, but Rob Brydon, Gordon Ramsay and Declan Donnelly have not.

    • richardpd

      July 7, 2020 at 11:50 pm

      I didn’t realise most of them apart from Frankie Howard were follically challenged.

      At least I know why Jimmy Care has had the same hairstyle since 1984!

      Bruce Willis didn’t bother to do anything about his rapidly thinning hair, which was a decent head of hair when he was in Moonlighting but almost non existent by the time Pulp Fiction was made.

      Either Gordon Ramsay didn’t spend a lot on his hair transplant or should ask for a refund as it’s a stringy, greasy mess at the best of times.

  6. Droogie

    July 7, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Oh – and probably the most convincing showbiz belonged to Christopher Lee, who seemingly wore one from the early Hammer films . I was amazed when I found this out a few years after his passing. Mark Gattis talked about this in an interview and how guarded he was about his baldness. Apparently during one movie Lee was riding a horse which reared up and sent he and his wig flying off. Lee then ran off to hide in some bushes whilst covering his head until an assistant retrieved his piece! The only movie he appears without his wig is in the excellent Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes as Mycroft. Lee said he had to shave his head for this role but that doesn’t appear to be entirely true.

  7. Sidney Balmoral James

    July 8, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Frankie Howerd was sensitive about his wig but can sometimes be seen to check it hasn’t slipped – I’m sure he does this after his entrance in Carry on Christmas 1969 which is on YouTube. And if we are talking syrups, Bing Crosby was bald as an egg.

  8. richardpd

    July 8, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    George Burns had a wig for years, but only wore it when performing, along with his trademark round glasses.

    Supposedly with a bald plate, sensible shaped glasses and a normal suit rather than a tuxedo he looked more like a captain of industry.

  9. Droogie

    July 9, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    I always felt sorry for anyone in a film or tv make-up department having to deal with a rug-wearing celeb in denial about their own baldness.Terry Gilliam told a story about how his wife did the make-up on Jabberwocky and how they wanted to give star Harry H Corbett a medieval haircut for the film. Corbett refused to have his hair cut and Gilliam’s wife suddenly realised he wore a hairpiece but didn’t want to admit it. If you watch the film, Corbett is actually wearing a wig on his wig!

  10. Glenn Aylett

    November 19, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    The show that saved Brucie’s career as Big Night had bombed big time and he looked washed up in 1979 as in a cruel twist, The Generation Game had become even more popular with Larry Grayson and Brucie could have retreated into the after dinner speech circuit or afternoon game shows. Yet Michael Grade gave him a second chance on LWT and Play Your Cards Right, while never as massive as The Generation Game, was still a very big hit and had all the awful Brucie jokes and catchphrases. Then it was hit after hit until he retired in his late eighties.

  11. Richardpd

    November 19, 2021 at 11:04 pm

    Another Brucie flop was Slinger’s Day, but luckily that didn’t derail things for him.

    • Glenn Aylett

      November 20, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      It was a side project, so didn’t hurt Brucie much ,as Play Your Cards Right was still massive in the mid eighties. Brucie certainly buried the humiliation of Big Night fairly quickly and, apart from Slinger’s Day, his career was a non stop success right up to his retirement from Strictly.

  12. Richardpd

    November 20, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    The successfully revived Generation Game was another programme that kept Brucie in the limelight for a few more years.

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