English comedian, singer and television present Des O’Connor has died.
Des O’Connor once said that all he did was walk on to the stage, chat to the audience and sing a few songs.
It was a formula that made him one of Britain’s best-known stars, an old-fashioned showman who could turn his hand to almost anything – fronting his variety programme, hosting chat shows or presiding over the quiz Countdown.
An almost ever-present face on UK television, he held the record for more mainstream appearances on the small screen than any other performer.
O’Connor, who has died aged 88 after a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire, also carved out a successful career as a singer including four Top 10 hits and more than 30 albums.
Desmond Bernard O’Connor was born on 12 January 1932 in Stepney, East London, the son of a Jewish cleaner and an Irish dustman. He contracted rickets while he was a child which resulted in him having callipers on his legs until he was seven.
He was also badly injured in a car accident and spent some time in an iron lung which disrupted his primary school education.
During the war, the family moved to Northampton where he signed as a schoolboy player with Northampton Football Club although he only made the third team.
It was while working in a local shoe factory that he discovered a talent for making people laugh, once recalling his ability to reduce the firm’s typing school to giggles and to be the main source of entertainment on works outings.
His prowess as a performer came to the fore during his national service with the RAF, when his commanding officer insisted he take part in a talent show. . .