Cilla Black was a huge success as a singer in the 1960s.
In the 1970s she starred in her own TV show called Cilla.
She sang, danced, performed comedy-sketches, did interviews.
She proved she could do everything.
But the problem with being okay at everything is you’re not a specialist.
So, amongst TV execs, Cilla got a reputation as being okay-but-not-great at any one particular thing.
And gradually, TV opportunities dried up.
But she was a typical Scouser: full of fun, not stuck up, always willing to talk to anyone.
In 1983, Terry Wogan wanted a talkative guest for his chat show.
He invited Cilla, and she turned his show into an advert for herself.
He asked her what she’d been up to.
She said “I’ve been talking to people in the street, at the butchers, in the supermarket: they all keep asking me “Where have you been, when are you coming back? We love you, we miss you. We want you back on the telly.”
And watching that interview was a producer who was trying to get a dating show off the ground.
But his bosses were worried that it would be too much about sex.
As he watched Cilla, he thought what if she was the host?
She wasn’t sexy, she was cheeky, like a saucy postcard.
She’d make it more about fun, not just sex.
And the producer sold the show that way and it got made.
‘Blind Date’ was such a success it was the top-rating show for 18 years.
All because Cilla Black opened her mouth and said what she wanted.
Bruce Forsyth was in a similar situation.
He was an all-round entertainer.
A dancer, a singer, a comedian, a game show host.
His TV career had started in the 1960s as the host of the massively popular Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
Then through the 70s and 80s: The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right, The Price Is Right.
But by the 1990s, TV execs saw him as yesterday’s man.
Bruce Forsyth needed to get himself on their radar again.
One night in 2003, he was lying in bed with his wife watching ‘Have I Got New For You?’
He said to her “I could do that, I’d liven it up a bit”.
And he called Paul Merton and suggested it to him.
For Paul Merton, the older generation of comedians were heroes.
He persuaded the producers it was a good idea.
And Bruce Forsyth hosted Have I Got News For You, he sent himself up, turning it into a game show.
It was a huge success.
Suddenly Bruce Forsyth was back on the radar of the TV execs.
And coincidentally they had a show that needed to be hosted by an all-round entertainer who could dance.
And they’d just seen the perfect person.
Bruce Forsyth hosted ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ for ten years.
And he turned a programme about ballroom dancing into compulsive viewing for the entire nation.
Bruce Forsyth got his career back on track the way Cilla Black did.
They didn’t sit around waiting for the something to happen.
They opened their mouths and made something happen.