Des O'Connor's TV career from Countdown to chat shows after presenter dies

Des O'Connor's TV career from Countdown to chat shows after presenter dies

It is a sad day for the TV industry today after it was confirmed that Des O’Connor has died at the age of 88.

The TV legend’s agent confirmed he died ‘peacefully’ in his sleep on Saturday, after suffering a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.

He was one of Britain’s best-known TV presenters and graced our screens from 1963 until 2012.

Tributes have poured in online for the comedian, with his former co-host Melanie Sykes leading the way.

Mel, who co-host the chat show, Today With Des and Mel said Des had 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. When he chose me to be his co-host on the Today daytime show it was one the greatest days of my professional life,’ she penned in an Instagram post.

‘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 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. Melanie x.’ 

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Des was born on January 12, 1932 in East London and was the son of a Jewish cleaner and an Irish dustman.

He had a brother, William O’Connor, and a sister, Patricia, who was one year his junior.

Des may be famous for his TV roles, but he also had a brief career as a professional footballer with Northampton Town.

After completing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, the host worked as a Redcoat at Butlins, which is where he met his first wife Phyllis.

He got his first big break on television when he was signed up to appear in a variety show at Newcastle’s Palace Theatre in 1953.

During the early stages of his career, Des worked with some big names including – Cilla Black, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Shirley Bassey.

He even toured with Buddy Holly in 1958.

In 1963, Des landed his own TV show called The Des O’Connor Show, which ran for eight series.

This was followed by Des O’Connor Entertains, a show which ran for two series between 1974 and 1976 and featured singing, dancing and comedy sketches.

In 1977, Des presented another show called Des O’Connor tonight, which ran for five years. It was rebooted again in 2002.

The presenter went on to host a number of other shows including – quiz show Take Your Pick, An Audience with Des O’Connor and Today with Des and Mel.

He even hosted Countdown in 2007 alongside Carol Vorderman.

His other TV appearances include The Morecambe and Wise Show, Would I Lie To You? The Chase and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Not only did Des have a successful TV career, but he also had success with music.

He released 36 albums, five of which reached the Top 40 on the albums chart.

Des’ agent and friend Pat Lake-Smith released a statement confirming the news of his death on Sunday.

The statement read: ‘It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O’Connor passed away yesterday. 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. ‘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 statement added.

‘He is survived by his wife Jodie, their son Adam and his four daughters, Karin, TJ, Samantha and Kristina. ‘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.’

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