Home TV by Decade TV Shows - 1970s Generation Game, The

Generation Game, The

1 9 7 1 – 1 9 8 2 (UK)
1 9 9 0 – 2 0 0 2 (UK)
2 0 0 5 (UK)

“Nice to see you, to see you . . . nice”

In 1971 Bruce Forsyth was offered The Generation Game – the first show where the public got to perform on prime-time Saturday night television. The popularity increased and by the second series, the viewing figures were at 21 million.


The Generation Game was based on a game show called Een Van De Aacht devised by a Dutch housewife. Contestants had to dress up, bake cakes, perform magic acts, do impersonations and much much more during the game.

Brucie’s co-presenter was Anthea Redfern (who he met at a Miss Lovely Legs competition and married on Christmas Eve 1973) who, with Bruce, became a major part of British popular culture of the 70s.

Bruce and Anthea presided over the fun, and the winning contestant each week was sent to the conveyor belt to test their memory and win prizes.

Bruce used to give them loads of clues. EG: If a holiday to Spain was in the offing he’d say something like “Don’t forget the castanets”, and no matter how bad the contestant was, Bruce would end the segment with with his arm around their shoulder saying “Didn’t they do well?” . . .

By 1977 the show had used 700 games and made several boo-boos, most of which the viewers seemed to like, such as the time when a contestant turned out to have a wooden leg and a hook for his right hand – and one of the games that week involved filleting a fish and opening a bottle of champagne.

Eventually, Brucie moved on and Larry Grayson took over, chatting in innuendo-laced monologues about his friends Everard, Slack Alice and (his postman) Pop-it-in Pete, while constantly demanding “shut that door!”. Larry was joined by Isla St Clair (pictured below with Larry), a fresh-faced folk singer the show’s producer Alan Boyd had spotted on a trip to Edinburgh.

Grayson was a truly loveable and hilarious bloke and a very underrated comedian. He added his own humour to the programme with his signature catchphrases such as “What a gay day”.

He never tried to imitate Bruce but mothered his contestants where Forsyth had cajoled them. The ratings proved that Grayson was a truly great host – He brought the viewing figures up to 18 million and the show was renamed after him.

Larry made an emotional farewell in 1981 having decided to retire from television. He continued his work in pantomimes and still appeared in occasional Christmas Specials on television. His last performance was in November 1994 when he appeared in the Royal Variety Performance in front of the Prince of Wales at the Dominion Theatre.

Sadly Larry Grayson died on 7 January 1995, aged 71.

The Generation Game returned to TV in 1990, once more with Brucie at the helm (rudder?). Rosemarie Ford starred this time as Bruce’s co-presenter until Bruce left again in 1995.

She decided not to co-present the show when comedian Jim Davidson took over and went on to work as the presenter of Come Dancing and Rolf’s Amazing World of AnimalsThe Generation Game lived on with Davidson.


Life is the name of the game
And I wanna play the game with you
Life can be terribly tame
If you don’t play the game with two
Yeah life is a go-as-you-please
And I need someplace to go with you
Life can be oh-such-a-tease
If you don’t play the game with two

Remember life’s a gamble
When choosing partners
you should take good care
To go on nature’s ramble
And grab yourself a fair share
Wo-oh there’s so much there

Because the name of the game is life
And you may find out some trouble and strife
And you can end up taking all the blame
Cos the name of the game is life
Yeah the name of the game is life
The name of the game is life!
And I wanna play the game with you

Bruce Forsyth
1971 – 1977
Anthea Redfern 

1971 – 1977
Larry Grayson 

1978 – 1981
Isla StClair 

1978 – 1982
Bruce Forsyth 

1990 – 1995
Rosemarie Ford 

1990 – 1995
Jim Davidson 

1995 – 2002
Sally Meen 

1995 – 1996
Melanie Stace 
1996 – 2002