Des O’Connor’s celeb pals praise him for making their careers with ‘big break’

Des O’Connor’s celeb pals praise him for making their careers with ‘big break’

A host of comedy superstars say they have Des O’Connor to thank for their big break.

The entertainment legend, who died last month aged 88, was famed for giving ­unknown comics spots on his shows.

Bradley Walsh, 60, said: "I’m not sure I’d be where I am without Des, because he was so generous and he’s helped me and many of my contemporaries. I thank him for that because he is a legend.

"He wanted to pay it forward and he wanted the youngsters to do all right."

Joe Pasquale, 59, added: “He was very ­instrumental in a lot of comedians’ early careers – me and Bradley Walsh included. He would really champion us and get us on the box as much as he could.”

Alan Davies, 54, said: "For me to be on primetime Des O’Connor was a jump into a whole new audience. Not everyone gets into their 50s and 60s and thinks, ‘Look at these kids coming up'."

Even US chat king Jay Leno, 70, credits Des for helping him to make it.

He said: "I was a kid just starting out. I just got a call one day, 'Do you want to do The Des O’Connor Show?' There was some trepidation there, but I got on the plane and went and it was a lot of fun.

"He was exactly the same off screen as he was on screen. You learn from the best and Des was one of the best.

"I appreciate our time ­together. He was a charming man."

Jonathan Ross, 60, who performed with Des, added: "He was always so supportive of new talent.

"It didn’t matter how old they were. It didn’t matter what style they did. If he liked it and it made him laugh, he wanted it on the show."

The stars relive their memories of working with Des in a documentary being shown tonight.

Watch Des O’Connor: The Ultimate Entertainer on ITV at 9pm.

  • ITV

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