TV star Des O’Connor dies after suffering fall at home
Des O’Connor has died at the age of 88 – days after the “ultimate entertainer” suffered a fall at his home.
The TV star, who enjoyed decades in the limelight, died in hospital on Saturday, his longtime agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith said.
O’Connor was a TV fixture with shows such as Today With Des And Mel and Des O’Connor Tonight, and he also hosted Countdown.
His agent said in a statement to the PA news agency: “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.”
O’Connor presented his own prime-time TV shows for over 45 years.
He first fronted his own show in 1963, while the success of his singing career saw him sell 16 million records and spend 117 weeks in the top 10 of the charts.
The four-times married star appeared on stage around the world, including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.
He had his own US TV programme and his chat show Des O’Connor Tonight was a British television staple for a quarter of a century.
He also hosted Channel 4 quiz show Countdown with Carol Vorderman, with the pair bowing out together in 2008.
At 72, the chat show host became a father again with his fiancee Jodie Brooke Wilson.
The couple later married, when O’Connor was 75 and Wilson was 38.
He had four daughters from his three previous marriages.
Melanie Sykes, who fronted Today With Des And Mel alongside O’Connor, paid tribute to him saying it was an “education and a privilege to work with him”.
She wrote on Instagram: “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 x”.
His agent said that O’Connor was “so well loved by absolutely everyone. 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.
“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 made a CBE for his services to entertainment and broadcasting.