From: John Bassett
Among the obituaries and tributes to Sir Bruce Forsyth since his death one thing which may have been overlooked is that Eastbourne played a key part in Bruce’s early career as it was while he was appearing here in a summer season in 1958 that he received the call to replace Tommy Trinder as the compere on the ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’.
As he said in his autobiography ‘I left that dowdy old theatre at the Hippodrome, Eastbourne, where I worked sometimes to only 40 or 50 people to the London Palladium which seated 2,500 people’ and this he did for the rest of the season.
The low audience was partly due to competition from the Fol-de-Rols concert party at the Pier Theatre.
Bruce went on to compere the Palladium show for several years and much of his success was due to his confident handling of contestants in ‘Beat The Clock’, a version of which he had been featuring in his summer shows.
With his busy schedule he rarely if ever revisited the Hippodrome but had he returned in recent years he would have found a vibrant and welcoming theatre maintaining its links with variety through a twice-weekly summer show as well as hosting musical shows from local groups and touring performances from professional comedians, singers and musicians.