Popular British entertainer, Des O’Connor has died at the age of 88, his agent has confirmed. The veteran comedian, singer and television host died on Saturday following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire about a week ago.
He was famed for hosting his own chat show, as well as, Take Your Pick and Countdown; he was also notable for his friendship with comedy duo Morecambe and Wise.
In a statement, his agent said he was “well-loved by absolutely everybody” and “loved life”.
His long-time agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith described him as the “ultimate entertainer” and said he had been recovering from the fall before his condition had suddenly deteriorated.
She said, “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.”
The London-born, O’Connor presented his own prime-time TV shows for more than 45 years but also had success as a singer.
His friendship with comedy duo Morecambe and Wise saw him mocked for his singing ability in sketches despite a successful career which included four Top 10 hits and more than 30 albums.
O’Connor appeared on stages around the world including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.
His fame soared when he was hired to host The Des O’Connor Show, which ran on ITV from 1963 to 1971.
In 1977 he began hosting Des O’Connor tonight, which started on BBC Two before moving to ITV, where it stayed until it ended in 2002.
He later hosted the Channel 4 quiz show Countdown alongside Carol Vorderman, with the pair bowing out together in 2008, and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to entertainment and broadcasting in that year’s birthday honors.
O’Connor was married four times and has described the end of his first three relationships as casualties of his obsession with work.
In 2007, he married long-term girlfriend Jodie Brooke Wilson, who was 37 years his junior and gave birth to their son Adam when O’Connor was 72.
Tributes have been paid following his death, with Countdown co-host Vorderman saying he was a “joy to work with”.
“I will remember him most though for his brilliant chat shows in the days when families would gather around the telly to watch – Des O’Connor was the king,” she said.
Fellow Countdown star Susie Dent described him as a “true gent” while Call the Midwife star Stephen McGann said O’Connor “never took himself too seriously”.
Melanie Sykes, who hosted TV show Today With Des And Mel alongside O’Connor, said it was an “education and a privilege to work with him”.
She 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.”