The beloved entertainer Des O’Connor was a mainstay in the homes of millions of viewers across generations and his death on Saturday at the age of 88 has inspired a flood of tributes and memories of the performer who never took himself seriously but was a seriously great talent.
I’m a Celebrity hosts Ant and Dec called him a “consummate professional and a lovely man” while remarking that he was a regular face on their TVs when they were growing up.
We are very sad to hear of the passing of Des O’Connor, a consummate professional and a lovely man. He was a regular fixture on our TV’s growing up and a gentleman whenever we met. Eric & Ernie will be waiting to have a laugh with you tonight Des. RIP X
— antanddec (@antanddec) November 15, 2020
O’Connor was a gifted singer, comedian and showman. His agent remarked: “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.”
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan described him as a “wondrously talented, warm, funny, charming man”.
RIP Des O’Connor, 88.
A wondrously talented, warm, funny, charming man. Truly one of the nicest people in showbiz.
What very sad news.
Thanks for all the fun, Des. pic.twitter.com/wMQX5nC8c1
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 15, 2020
Presenter Melanie Sykes, with whom Des co-hosted ITV chat show Today with Des and Mel from 2002-2006, wrote on Instagram: “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. 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. Melanie x.”
BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker tweeted: “I once asked a retiring colleague who they had enjoyed working with the most over all their years in TV and they said Des O’Connor without hesitation. We loved watching him as a family growing up. Proper entertainer. My thoughts are with his family this morning.”
Very sad to hear that Des O’Connor has passed away. Such good memories of guesting on his shows in the nineties.
— Alan Davies (@alandavies1) November 15, 2020
Pop star Olly Murs posted: “Very sad news to hear Des O’Connor has died, to be on his show in 2012 was a highlight after watching him throughout my childhood. An icon on TV, a gentleman and one of the best! Rest in peace Des x”
Comedians Omid Djalili and David Baddiel posted a clip showcasing his lack of ego and readiness to be the butt of a joke if the joke was worth it.
Glorious. If you’ve never heard of Des O’Connor I urge you to watch this. Roasting with such mutual respect that Des reads out the extra gags about him that were going to be cut. And Eric referencing Arthur Negus – an antiques expert specialising in furniture – is double gold. https://t.co/J8y2dJymaC
— Omid Djalili (@omid9) November 15, 2020
RadioTimes.com witnessed O’Connor’s self-deprecating humour first hand. At a press launch in the early 2000s, a journalist asked him a slightly improper question about whether or not he was getting too old to be hosting television shows. Without hesitation the entertainer, who was well into his 70s, whipped off his shirt to show off his perma-tanned physique.
“Hardly! Plenty of life left in me,” he quipped, with his trademark grin.
It’s hard to think of any other veteran performer who could have answered the question with such great humour.