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TV legend Des O’Connor dies aged 88

UK - Des O'Connor in

Des has died aged 88 (Picture: robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images)

Des O’Connor has died aged 88.

The TV legend’s agent confirmed that he died ‘peacefully’ in his sleep on Saturday in hospital, surrounded by family.

O’Connor was admitted to hospital a week ago after suffering a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.

A statement from his agent and friend Pat Lake-Smith 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.

‘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.

Editorial use only Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/REX (1823202k) Des O'Connor 'The One and Only Des O'Connor' TV Programme - 08 Apr 2012 ITV has commissioned ITV Studios to make a one off televised special with the much loved legendary entertainer Des O'Connor to celebrate his milestone 80th birthday and 50 years in show business. This 90 minute prime time ITV1 show will be hosted by the great man himself, and feature a star studded mix of guests and stars from the worlds of comedy and entertainment. Des will be joined on stage by comedy genius Matt Lucas, the inimitable Paul O'Grady, award winning actress Katherine Kelly, much loved actor Robert Lindsay, Des's on screen presenting partner Mel Sykes and many more. The show will also feature some exciting musical performances and a few surprises for Des along the way.

The star suffered a fall last week (Picture: ITV/REX)

‘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.’

O’Connor was one of Britain’s most loved entertainers, hosting a series of his own primetime shows over his illustrious 45 year career.

Between 1963 and 1971, he presented the variety show The Des O’Connor Show, before going on to host Des O’Connor tonight from 1977 until 2002 – with seven series on BBC Two and a further 17 on ITV.

Editorial use only Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/REX (939620ck) 'Des O'Connor Show' TV Des O'Connor and The Irving Davies Dancers ITV Archive

O’Connor’s career spanned 45 years (Picture: ITV/REX)

In 2002, he began hosting Today with Des and Mel, an afternoon programme which ran until 2006.

The following year, O’Connor replaced Des Lynam as the host of Countdown for two years alongside Carol Vorderman.

He was also known for presenting gameshow Take Your Pick, on which he met his wife Jodie, while he made numerous guest appearances on The Morecambe and Wise Show.

In 2001, O’Connor was honoured with the special recognition award at the National Television Awards for his contributions to television.

Aside from television, O’Connor had a successful music career, recording 36 albums, five of which reached the UK top 40.

He also achieved four top 10 singles, including the song I Pretend, which reached number one in 1968.

Des’s former co-host and friend Melanie Sykes was one of the first to pay tribute to the star, as she shared a picture of them together to Instagram.

She wrote: ‘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.

‘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.’

Dermot O’Leary joined in on the tributes, writing: ‘Ah the saddest news. Proper stalwart and legend. Met him a few times, when I was starting out, and he was always so supportive and generous with his time. Will miss that cheeky knowing smile. Rest in peace Des.’

Gyles Brandreth tweeted: ‘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.’

Credit: Original article published here.

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