Showbiz legend Bruce Forsyth celebrated his 80th birthday in some style today - with a dancing girl on each arm.
The Strictly Come Dancing host arrived at London’s Dorchester Hotel in the company of Miss England Georgia Horsley and Miss Puerto Rico Jennifer Guevara.
“What a way to start a birthday!” Forsyth said as he posed with the pair, who were resplendent in feathers and silver sequins.
The entertainer is throwing a party at the Dorchester this evening for 280 of his closest friends, including Shirley Bassey and his Strictly co-host Tess Daly.
But he found time to hold a birthday press conference, where he shared the secrets of eternal youth.
It helps, he explained, to have a young wife.
The current Mrs Forsyth is Puerto Rican-born Wilnelia, a former Miss World 32 years his junior.
“I’ve got a very, very young wife. We won’t talk about the age gap, that will make me feel tired. But she does keep me young. She’s the most wonderful lady who has a career of her own. She’s been at the forefront of keeping me young,” he said.
“I also have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. If that doesn’t keep you going, what can?”
Winking at the beauty queens seated at his side, he joked: “These two could definitely keep me young.”
Forsyth said of his milestone birthday: “People have made such a big thing of this but I don’t feel any different. What are you supposed to feel when you’re 80?
“It’s not amazing to me, I’ve been looking forward to it for the last 25 years.”
The star was asked if he plans to retire any time soon.
“That’s got to be around the corner,” he admitted. “It could be next week, next month, next year – who knows? I’ve always said, if I become past it, if I’ve gone over the top, I think I’ll know. If I don’t then I’ll rely on my agent, my manager and my wife to tell me it’s time to turn in.”
The star hit out at critics who have jumped on the occasional fluffed line in BBC show Strictly Come Dancing as evidence that he is too old for the job.
He said: “I see little snippets in the paper – ’doddery Bruce Forsyth’. But you try to do live TV for two hours on a Saturday night without mistakes. Other shows have mistakes but they’re not live so they do four takes.
“If I make a fluff I try to get out of it, to make a joke. There’s not that many, maybe one a show, but people like to pick on something.”
Forsyth laughed: “So put this in quotes: ’I’m not doddery.’ Senile, yes, but not doddery.”
Wilnelia has bought her husband two birthday gifts – a This Is Your Life-style book documenting his life in photographs all the way back to childhood (“the most wonderful present I’ve ever had”) and a week at the US Masters tournament in Augusta where he can watch his beloved golf.
Another surprise present came from Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench, who sent a bottle of champagne.
Forsyth was so touched by the note that came with it that he is carrying it around in his jacket pocket.
He revealed: “Yesterday at home I got a lovely bottle of champagne, delivered in a box and beautifully wrapped.
“It came with a note: ’Dear Bruce, I shall be singing Happy Birthday all day, have a wonderful party, with love from Judi Dench.’
“That meant so much to me. I had heard from people that she enjoyed my work over the years, like so many people who have seen me since they were children.
“It meant an awful lot, that’s why I’m keeping it on my person all day. She’s a lovely lady, I admire her so much.”
Forsyth added: “I will keep the champagne for 20 years,” before joking: “Well, that would be pushing it.”
The star may have been eligible for a pension for the past 15 years, but he has never collected it.
“Where do I go to get it? I don’t know where to get it. They probably owe me a fortune!” he laughed. “I must phone Gordon this morning, let’s put that right.”