Des O’Connor dead: Legendary Countdown host dies in his sleep

Legendary TV personality Des O’Connor is dead, his agent has confirmed.

After a fall at his Buckinghamshire home, 88 years old O’Connor was admitted to hospital last week, and had been “recovering well” in the days before his death.
Sadly, the veteran entertainer died “peacefully” in his sleep on Saturday, November 14.

The former Countdown presenter was an icon of British television, entertaining the nation over the course of six decades on the screen.


In a statement, his agent said: “It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O’Connor passed away yesterday.”

Legendary TV personality Des O’Connor has died aged 88 (Image: Getty Images)

“Unfortunately yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep.

“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.”

The comedian and singer’s career spanned over six decades (Image: Mirrorpix

“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.”

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Born in East London, Des’ started off his career as a professional footballer at Northampton Town FC, as well as training with the Royal Air Force during WWII.

The singer had a number one hit with his song I Pretend in the 60s (Image: Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Having cut his teeth on the variety circuit, his TV break came in the late 50s when he was chosen to host ITV’s Spot The Tune.

1963 saw the launch of his namesake variety show, The Des O Connor Show, which was a staple on Saturday night television.

Alongside his presenting career, O’Connor was an acclaimed singer, with his song I Pretend reaching number one in the charts in the 60s.

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Over the course of his career, he recorded a sensational 36 albums, earning an international fanbase.

The early noughties saw O’Connor host ITV daytime show Today With Des and Mel alongside Melanie Sykes, interviewing celebrity guests and giving light entertainment sketches a platform.

The veteran comic was the beloved host of The Des O’Connor Tonight Show (Image: Redferns)

Upon hearing news of O’Connor’s death, Mel shared a tribute to his legacy, saying she would “never forget him”.

She said: “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.”

In 2007, the presenter replaced Des Lynam as the host of Countdown, joining Carol Vorderman on the show before quitting the following year.

The veteran entertainer is survived by wife Jodie Brooke Wilson and his five children.


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