|Subject: Des O’Connor, UK TV star
dies at 88
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Date Posted: Sunday, November 15, 04:19:01am
DES O’Connor has died aged 88 peacefully in his sleep days after suffering a fall at his home.
Tributes today flooded in to remember the legendary TV star and former host of Countdown.
The veteran entertainer - best known as a chat show host and presenter of Channel 4's Countdown - had enjoyed six decades in the world of entertainment, and made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic.
His longtime agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith said the presenter had passed away on Saturday, days after a fall at his Buckinghamshire home.
Des is survived by his wife Jodie, their son Adam and his four daughters, Karin, TJ, Samantha and Kristina.
Celebs and presenters today have flooded social media with tributes, including Melanie Sykes, his former Today with Des and Mel co-host, who described him as a man with "the kindest of hearts".
Agent Ms Lake-Smith said in a statement: "He had been admitted to hospital just over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire. He was recovering well and had been in great spirits, visited by his family - in accordance with hospital lockdown regulations - and looking forward to going home.
"Unfortunately yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep.
"Des, who was 88, was so well loved by absolutely everyone. He was a joy to work with - he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a total professional.
"He loved life, and considered enthusiasm almost as important as oxygen. He adored his family - they were everything to him."
The agent added: "Jodie's world is shattered, she and Adam and Des's daughters are hurting more than you could possibly imagine.
"Des was the ultimate entertainer. He loved being on stage - entertaining a live audience. He always said the sound of laughter was like the sound of heavenly music.
"He had a fabulous international TV career, presenting his own prime-time TV shows for over 45 years. On stage he starred at almost every leading venue throughout the world."
Melanie Sykes today led tributes for her former co-host, writing: "Des had the softest hands of anyone I ever met and the kindest of hearts.
"He had talent in every fibre of his being and was stubborn as a mule. He was the full ticket as a friend and colleague."
She added that being picked as his co-host for the daytime show was "one the greatest days of my professional life".
The TV star added: "It was an education and a privilege to work with him for the years that followed. We worked long hours but always laughed lots, not least because when it it was showtime he would always tell me I looked like robbers dog!
"These years I will never forget and nor will I forget him. Darling Des you will be forever missed."
Among those to pay tribute was writer and comedian Gyles Brandreth, who wrote on Twitter: "Des O'Connor was such a nice, nice man. The ultimate professional, an impeccable entertainer, skilful, stylish, self-deprecating, fun to be with, lovely to know.
"One of the best. RIP Des - a privilege & a real pleasure to have known you. Thanks for the fun."
ONE OF THE BEST
Red Dwarf star Danny added: "RIP Des O'Connor. A lovely man…"
Gyles Brandreth described Des O'Connor as the "ultimate professional".
In a tweet he wrote: "Des O'Connor was such a nice, nice man. The ultimate professional, an impeccable entertainer, skilful, stylish, self-deprecating, fun to be with, lovely to know.
"One of the best. RIP Des - a privilege & a real pleasure to have known you. Thanks for the fun".
Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: "So sorry to hear of the death of entertainer, comedian and all round lovely man Des O'Connor. Des was the entertainer l saw most on telly when l was a kid growing up, l send my deepest condolences to the Family and Friends of Des. R.I.P."
Call The Midwife star Stephen McGann tweeted: "Now Des O'Connor. ?? Never took himself too seriously, which I always liked. That generation of variety stars are slowly slipping away".
Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness tweeted: "Such sad news. Des O'Connor was never afraid to laugh at himself and that was part of his charm. Whether it was Eric Morecambe ridiculing him, or Freddie Starr smashing his studio set up, Des always laughed along. Another part of my childhood telly viewing gone. RIP Des O'Connor".
The TV legend was born on January 12, 1932 in Stepney, East London but was evacuated to Northampton during the Second World War.
Des enjoyed a brief stint as a professional footballer at Northampton Town FC before working a succession of odd jobs, including as a complaints clerk in a boot and shoe factory.
He kicked off his showbiz career appearing in variety theatres across the country, but got his big TV break in the late 1950s as a presenter for ITV’s ‘Spot The Tune’.
The four-times married star has appeared on stages around the world including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.
He had his own US TV programme and his chat show Des O'Connor Tonight was a British television staple for a quarter of a century.
He also hosted Channel 4 quiz show Countdown with Carol Vorderman, with the pair bowing out together in 2008.
In 1963, he was given his own variety show ‘The Des O'Connor Show’ - and also released music later in the decade including number one hit ‘I Pretend’.
He also recorded a whopping 36 albums as a singer - five of which reached the UK Top 40. His singing career saw him sell 16 million records and spend 117 weeks in top 10 of the charts.
Aged 75 in 2007, he married singer-songwriter Jodie Brooke Wilson, then 38, four years after he first proposed and 17 years after they first got together.
O'Connor was made a CBE for his services to entertainment and broadcasting.
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