TV veteran Sir Bruce Forsyth has died at the age of 89, his manager has said.

The statement read: “It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.

“A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last eighteen months.

“With a twinkle in his eye, he responded “I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!” Unfortunately, not long after this, his health deteriorated and he contracted bronchial pneumonia.

“The family would like to express their thanks to the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness and know that they will share in part, the great, great loss they feel.

“There will be no further comment at the moment and it would be much appreciated if the privacy of Sir Bruce’s family is respected at this most difficult time.”

BBC Director-General, Tony Hall said: “Sir Bruce was one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known. He has delighted millions of people and defined Saturday night television for decades, with shows like the Generation Game and, most recently, Strictly. His warmth and his wit were legendary.

“I’ve never seen anyone quite like him when it comes to performing in front of a crowd. He had a remarkable chemistry with his audience – that’s what made him such an amazing professional and why he was so loved. He has been part of all of our lives, and we’ll miss him dearly.”

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman paid a touching tribute to her predecessor.

As the news broke on Friday, she posted on Twitter: “He was the King of TV, the Prince of performers and the most generous of people… all toe-tapping twinkle, all kindness, all love….”

She followed it with: “The Bruce you saw really was the man he was. We’ll miss him so much.”

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly said of Sir Bruce: “There are no words to describe how heartbroken I am to be told the saddest news, that my dear friend Sir Bruce Forsyth has passed away.

“From the moment we met, Bruce and I did nothing but laugh our way through a decade of working together on Strictly Come Dancing and I will never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain the audiences he so loved.

“He has been there for me as a co-host, a mentor, but most importantly as a friend, and I’m extremely fortunate to have worked alongside the man who defined Saturday night entertainment for so many decades.

“He was a gentleman and a true legend and I will miss him deeply. My heart goes out to Winnie, his wife, and his beautiful family at this sad time.”

TV host Vernon Kay, who is married to Tess Daly, wrote on Instagram:

“Devastating news that the Entertainment Legend Sir Bruce Forsyth has passed away. It’s been an honour to be able to get to know him as a friend. And we will cherish the times we spent together…

A post shared by @vernonkay on

“He defined Saturday Night telly and re wrote the book on TV Hosting…Will miss his energy and fun both in the studio and on the golf course. Thoughts are with Winnie and his family.”