'Ultimate' entertainer Des O'Connor dies aged 88, days after fall at home

Entertainer Des O'Connor has died at the age of 88 - days after a fall at his home.

Des O'Connor in costume before starring in Andrew Lloyd's Webber's The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium as The Wizard in 2012.
Des O'Connor in costume before starring in Andrew Lloyd's Webber's The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium as The Wizard in 2012.

The TV star died on Saturday, his longtime agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith said.

She said in a statement to the PA news agency that the "ultimate entertainer" had been recovering from the fall when he died.

"It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O'Connor passed away yesterday," she said.

"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.

The TV star died on Saturday, his longtime agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith said.

She said in a statement to the PA news agency that the “ultimate entertainer” had been recovering from the fall when he died.

“It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O’Connor passed away yesterday,” she said.

“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 was known for shows like Today With Des And Mel and Des O’Connor Tonight.

His agent said: “Des, who was 88, 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.”

Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness tweeted: “Such sad news. Des O’Connor was never afraid to laugh at himself and that was part of his charm. Whether it was Eric Morecambe ridiculing him, or Freddie Starr smashing his studio set up, Des always laughed along. Another part of my childhood telly viewing gone. RIP Des O’Connor”.

Melanie Sykes, who hosted Today With Des And Mel alongside O’Connor, said 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”.

Call The Midwife star Stephen McGann tweeted: “Now Des O’Connor. Never took himself too seriously, which I always liked. That generation of variety stars are slowly slipping away”.

TV star Kate Robbins said Des O’Connor was a “true pro and a gorgeous person”.

She tweeted: “I’m so sad to hear that the wonderful Des O’Connor has died. He was a true pro and a gorgeous person. My love to Jodie and all his family at this sad time. Rest in peace Des. You are sorely missed already #RipDesOConnor”.

Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “So sorry to hear of the death of entertainer, comedian and all round lovely man Des O’Connor. Des was the entertainer l saw most on telly when l was a kid growing up, l send

Gyles Brandreth described Des O’Connor as the “ultimate professional”.

In a tweet he wrote: “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”.

09:3915 Nov 2020

Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules paid tribute to the late Des O’Connor on Twitter, sharing a picture of them together.

Alongside it he wrote: “RIP Des O’Connor. A lovely man…”