Des sadly passed away on 14 November 2020. It’s been my great pleasure and privilege to have been associated with Des for over 30 years. He was an amazing, kind and generous person who I miss so very much. The public and the world of showbusiness has lost a wonderful and talented person, but his memory will last forever. Bless you Des and rest in peace.
Des O’Connor was established as one of the world’s most popular and best loved entertainers. Since landing his first television series in the UK in 1963, he starred in his own mainstream television show every year since then – longer than anyone anywhere in the world.
He was born in the East End of London and during the war was evacuated to Northampton.
After National Service in the RAF he entered show business. His first theatre appearances were in variety all over the country before his break into television.
He was one of only a handful of British entertainers to be acclaimed internationally on stage and television; when he was given an American series of his show, it went out to over 40 countries and was seen by 200 million people world-wide. On stage he has starred at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the Sydney Opera House, The O’Keefe Centre, Toronto and over 1000 solo appearances at the London Palladium.
Since 1967, he has been a hugely successful recording star. He had his first hit single with “Careless Hands”, followed by “I Pretend” which went to No 1. Since then his recording career has produced 35 albums with sales of over 16 million and he has spent 117 weeks in the top ten charts.
In 2001 he received the Special Recognition Award at the National TV Awards and his top-selling autobiography “Bananas Can’t Fly” (Headline Publishing) was published the same year.
TV appearances include Des O’Connor Tonight specials; an ITV celebration special to mark Des’ 40th year in prime time television; Des O’Connor Comedy Tonight and a series of prime-time Des O’Connor With one-to-one specials. His award winning ITV1 daily celebrity talk show Today With Des & Mel, with co-host Melanie Sykes, proved such a hit with the viewers that the show more than doubled its audience since it’s launch in autumn 2002 and won an RTS Programme Award. Des went on to present Countdown on Channel 4. On the other side of the camera, Des ran his own TV production company. Des appeared on The Paul O’Grady Show in April 2009, as a guest of Mel Sykes, in her capacity as guest host!
He has met and worked with all the major personalities of the day; from rock and pop stars, actors and TV performers to politicians, princes and luminaries such as Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Liberace, the Beatles, Barbara Streisand, Robert Redford and more recently Hugh Grant, The Spice Girls, Robbie Williams, Mel Gibson, Pavarotti, Sir Elton John, Tony Blair and almost every member of the Royal Family.
Des was delighted and honoured to have been awarded a CBE in June 2008 in the Queens birthday honours.