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Tune into Bradleyvision! Is there anything Walsh can’t do? 

The Bradley Blitz is under way, with actor, singer and presenter Bradley Walsh dominating our TVs. Next week he will be appearing in nearly 90 hours’ worth of TV.

On Saturday nights he is on the BBC with a Blankety Blank revival — and he’s on ITV at the same time with Beat The Chasers (although tonight’s show is off due to international football). And from tomorrow he will be dominating prime-time viewing again playing Pop Larkin in ITV’s The Larkins, a reboot of The Darling Buds Of May.

Indeed Bradley, 61, has borrowed from the TV legends of yesteryear to build his career and £20 million fortune. Alison Boshoff looks at the one-man brand who has taken over TV and reveals whose footsteps he is following in…

A Brucie bonus at the palladium

Light-entertainment legend Bruce Forsyth hosted ITV’s variety show Sunday Night At The London Palladium. Brucie was in charge from 1958 to 1960.

When there was a third revival of the show in 2014, Bradley Walsh was chosen as the presenter, taking on duties on Sunday Night At The Palladium and Tonight At The London Palladium.

Walsh has again followed in Forsyth’s footsteps with his long career of game show hosting. Bruce hosted The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price Is Right.

Walsh said of Forsyth: ‘Talk about triple-threat, you’ve got to go some to beat the great Bruce. Probably had about nine strings to his bow, he could do it all. He was the most amazing talent.’

Bradley Walsh is seen presenting the show

Light-entertainment legend Bruce Forsyth hosted ITV’s variety show Sunday Night At The London Palladium. Brucie was in charge from 1958 to 1960. When there was a third revival of the show in 2014, Bradley Walsh was chosen as the presenter

Always on song like Crooner Des

Bradley has had two hit albums — and nobody has been more surprised by his success than him.

His first album of swing classics, Chasing Dreams, was released in 2016 and peaked at No 10 in the chart, achieving gold status and outselling former One Direction star Zayn Malik’s debut solo album.

It was followed by When You’re Smiling which reached No 11 in 2017. A clue to his dreams came when he appeared as Tony Bennett in Stars In Their Eyes in 2005.

He said: ‘All I wanted to do was make something I could be proud of. I’m not known as a singer, I was more focused on not embarrassing myself.’

In 2016, on Jonathan Ross’s chat show, he sang Stormzy’s hit song Blinded By Your Grace to the rapper. Ross called it ‘one of the weirdest things I’ve seen’.

Bradley has had two hit albums — and nobody has been more surprised by his success than him. He is pictured with Des O'Connor

Bradley has had two hit albums — and nobody has been more surprised by his success than him. He is pictured with Des O’Connor

His singing — and the sceptical reaction to it — brings to mind Des O’Connor (below) who spent 117 weeks in the charts but was also the butt of jokes by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise over his singing voice.

When he met Prince Philip, the Duke asked: ‘Are you really that bad?’

There are other parallels between Walsh and O’Connor — known as one of the nicest in the business. Des started out as a footballer, playing for youth and reserve sides at Northampton — just like Walsh, who appeared for the reserves at Brentford.

Des then worked for Church’s shoes — and Walsh followed him into a factory with an apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce at 16. After the RAF, O’Connor got into showbiz via Butlins, where he was a Redcoat — Walsh was a Pontins Bluecoat— and spent years on the Variety circuit.

His first success was as a singer having hits Careless Hands in 1967 and I Pretend in 1968. He then had a stellar career as a chat show and quiz show host — and again Walsh is following in his footsteps.

Walsh idolised O’Connor, who died in 2020, as a mentor and friend. He launched his career doing stand-up slots on Des’s show. He said: ‘A lady once asked Des, is Bradley Walsh your illegitimate son? And he joked ‘yes’ and it stayed in his act. I’ve got to thank Des as I wouldn’t be where I am without his input and love. He was like a dad to me. He is a sad loss. He is a giant.’

When Bradley was overcome with nerves recording the 1993 Royal Variety Performance, O’Connor told him: ‘Imagine there are no cameras, be yourself. But also, don’t work to the Queen, she’s not interested in comedy, she loves the ballet.’

Imitating Wogan’s winning ways

Terry Wogan was the original host of Blankety Blank, and wielded the ‘wand’ microphone (legend has it, fashioned partly out of a car aerial) from 1979 to 1983.

Walsh was the warm-up act for Les Dawson, who followed Wogan as the next host of the show.

Walsh first hosted Blankety Blank for a Christmas special last year, which was the most-watched programme of the day, drawing six million viewers.

A ten-edition series is now running post-watershed on Saturday nights on the BBC, with Bradley Walsh letting guests run rings around him just as Wogan did. The innuendos also come thick and fast — and he’s just as prone to giggling as Wogan.

Yes, it’s a nostalgic pleasure — as Walsh said: ‘If you are old enough to remember the original, then congratulations on making it this far.

‘I love nostalgic telly and Blankety Blank is one of those formats everyone remembers, so I’m grateful to be back. We’ve had great feedback from viewers — parents and grandparents enjoyed the nostalgia and the kids enjoyed filling in the blanks alongside the celebrity panel.’

Terry Wogan was the original host of Blankety Blank, and wielded the 'wand' microphone (legend has it, fashioned partly out of a car aerial) from 1979 to 1983

Terry Wogan was the original host of Blankety Blank, and wielded the ‘wand’ microphone (legend has it, fashioned partly out of a car aerial) from 1979 to 1983

Walsh first hosted Blankety Blank for a Christmas special last year, which was the most-watched programme of the day, drawing six million viewers

Walsh first hosted Blankety Blank for a Christmas special last year, which was the most-watched programme of the day, drawing six million viewers

3-2-1…Go! Bradley’s on The Chase

Walsh’s hit quiz show The Chase has been running on ITV since 2009.

It is all-conquering, rather like ITV’s clue-based quiz show 3-2-1 which made a household name of Ted Rogers and ran from 1978 to 1988.

A stand-up and singer, South Londoner Rogers made his name on the Billy Cotton Band Show. The show 3-2-1 with Dusty Bin was a huge hit, but didn’t find favour with TV executives.

He was devastated when 3-2-1 was cancelled in 1987, saying: ‘The Oxbridge lot got control of TV and they didn’t want the show. It was too downmarket for them. We were getting 12 million viewers when they took it off. These days if a show gets nine million everyone does a lap of honour.’

Rogers was declared bankrupt in 1992 after failed investments and his home was repossessed. He died in 2001 during open-heart surgery.

Walsh has presented numerous quizzes in his career, starting with an early stint on Wheel Of Fortune, Odd One In and more recently Take Off With Bradley & Holly.

Walsh's hit quiz show The Chase has been running on ITV since 2009. It is all-conquering, rather like ITV's clue-based quiz show 3-2-1 which made a household name of Ted Rogers and ran from 1978 to 1988

Walsh’s hit quiz show The Chase has been running on ITV since 2009. It is all-conquering, rather like ITV’s clue-based quiz show 3-2-1 which made a household name of Ted Rogers and ran from 1978 to 1988

A remake that’s just perfick

David Jason was an established star when he took on the role of Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds Of May opposite Pam Ferris in 1991. 

The drama series made a star of Catherine Zeta-Jones and was based on the novels by H. E. Bates.

Bradley Walsh has acted in Coronation Street and Doctor Who, but says he did hesitate a little about taking on the role, in particular the catchphrase: ‘Perfick.’

‘He says it in the books, but it became such an iconic catchphrase in the 1990s that we decided not to go back there. We used the word once, maybe twice, in the whole series,’ says Walsh (above with Joanna Scanlan as Ma Larkin).

As far as acting goes, although he has no training, he doesn’t seem to suffer from a lack of confidence. 

Walsh, who left school at 16, has said: ‘Comics make good actors. Actors do not make good comics. I said, ‘OK I will try it’ and it has worked.’

Bradley Walsh has acted in Coronation Street and Doctor Who, but says he did hesitate a little about taking on the role, in particular the catchphrase: 'Perfick'

Bradley Walsh has acted in Coronation Street and Doctor Who, but says he did hesitate a little about taking on the role, in particular the catchphrase: ‘Perfick’

David Jason was an established star when he took on the role of Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds Of May opposite Pam Ferris in 1991

David Jason was an established star when he took on the role of Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds Of May opposite Pam Ferris in 1991

Now for something not so different

Former Monty Python star Michael Palin transformed the world of the travel documentary with his 1989 show Around The World In 80 Days With Michael Palin, which was followed by eponymous shows Pole To Pole, Sahara, Himalaya and others.

Palin’s informality and natural rapport with locals around the globe led to a blizzard of travel shows fronted by other funnymen. One of them is Breaking Dad, in which Bradley goes on holiday with his 23-year-old son Barney.

The first of three series — screened in 2019 — achieved five million viewers per episode on average, making it the highest-rating celebrity travelogue in a decade.

Former Monty Python star Michael Palin transformed the world of the travel documentary with his 1989 show Around The World In 80 Days With Michael Palin

Former Monty Python star Michael Palin transformed the world of the travel documentary with his 1989 show Around The World In 80 Days With Michael Palin

Palin's informality and natural rapport with locals around the globe led to a blizzard of travel shows fronted by other funnymen. One of them is Breaking Dad, in which Bradley goes on holiday with his 23-year-old son Barney

Palin’s informality and natural rapport with locals around the globe led to a blizzard of travel shows fronted by other funnymen. One of them is Breaking Dad, in which Bradley goes on holiday with his 23-year-old son Barney

Following Morse’s code

The late John Thaw was best known as Inspector Morse, but also played DI Jack Regan in The Sweeney from 1975 to 1978. 

Walsh brought toughness and vulnerability as DS Ronnie Brooks in Law And Order: UK from 2009 to 2014. Another notable role was as Graham O’Brien, a retired bus driver turned companion in Doctor Who. 

The late John Thaw was best known as Inspector Morse, but also played DI Jack Regan in The Sweeney from 1975 to 1978.

Walsh brought toughness and vulnerability as DS Ronnie Brooks in Law And Order: UK from 2009 to 2014

The late John Thaw was best known as Inspector Morse, but also played DI Jack Regan in The Sweeney from 1975 to 1978. Walsh brought toughness and vulnerability as DS Ronnie Brooks in Law And Order: UK from 2009 to 2014

Teed up for showbiz by golf-mad Tarby

Bradley is a keen golfer and has taken part in numerous pro-celebrity golf tournaments that raise money for charity, including the All-Star Cup in 2006. He competed for Europe in that competition with DJ Chris Evans against an American team including Meat Loaf and actress Jane Seymour.

His enthusiasm is shared by light-entertainment titan Jimmy Tarbuck (right) — himself a previous presenter of Sunday Night At The London Palladium — who has played golf with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Sean Connery among others, and was once captain of Coombe Hill Golf Club.

Walsh says that Tarby has been a good mentor to him. He recalled: ‘He said to me after the Royal Variety Performance, ‘People are going to come up and offer you all sorts of things. Be careful what you take. It’s the stuff you refuse, not the stuff you take’.’

Bradley is a keen golfer and has taken part in numerous pro-celebrity golf tournaments that raise money for charity, including the All-Star Cup in 2006

His enthusiasm is shared by light-entertainment titan Jimmy Tarbuck

Bradley is a keen golfer and has taken part in numerous pro-celebrity golf tournaments that raise money for charity, including the All-Star Cup in 2006. His enthusiasm is shared by light-entertainment titan Jimmy Tarbuck

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