Bruce Forsyth, the veteran British entertainer and game show host who BBC director general Tony Hall called “one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known,” died today. He was 89. He had been unwell for some time and was in hospital earlier this year with a severe chest infection. His manager confirmed the news on Friday.

“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,” said his manager Ian Wilson in a statement to the BBC. “A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last 18 months. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded ‘I’ve been very, very busy…being ill!”

Forsyth’s long career in show business began when he was just 14, onstage at his local theater. The multihyphenate, who sang, danced and coined the catchphrase “nice to see you, to see you nice,” became well known for hosting a raft of game shows in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s including The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price Is Right. His prolific work saw him become, at one time, Britain’s best-paid TV star.

He also presented BBC One’s biggest show Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly from 2004-14. In 2011, he was knighted after a huge campaign from friends.

“Sir Bruce was one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known,” said BBC director general Tony Hall. “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.”