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Desmond Bernard O'Connor, CBE (born 12 January 1932) is a Englishmarker television personality and singer. A former talkshow host, he was the presenter of the long running Channel 4 gameshow Countdown for two and a half years. He has also recorded thirty six albums and has had four top ten singles.

Biography

O'Connor wrote in his autobiography that he is probably the only O'Connor ever to have had a Bar Mitzvah. He was evacuated to Northamptonmarker during World War II. After completing his National Service in the Royal Air Force, he worked as a shoe salesman before entering show business. Before his break in television, his first theatre appearances were in variety, where he appeared in venues throughout the country.

He is one of only a handful of British entertainers to be acclaimed internationally on stage and television. On stage he has starred at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the Sydney Opera Housemarker, The O'Keefe Centre, Torontomarker and has made over 1,000 solo appearances at the London Palladiummarker.

He has met and worked with many personalities of the day, from rock and pop stars, actors and TV performers, to politicians, princes, to luminaries, such as Frank Sinatra, Adam Faith, Sean Connery, Liberace, The Beatles, Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Tony Blair, and members of the Royal Family.

He has toured with Buddy Holly (during Holly's 1958 stay in England) and Jason Donovan.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours.

Television work

At the time of writing in 2007, Des O'Connor has starred in a mainstream TV show in every year since 1963, a feat that only one other television personality has achieved worldwide (US game show host Bob Barker, who hosted mainstream television shows from 1956 until 2007, with 1966-1972 being in syndication). In 2001, he was presented with the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards for his contributions to television.

Notable shows hosted by Des O'Connor:
  • The Des O'Connor Show (1963–1968)
  • Des O'Connor Entertains (1974–1976) - A variety show with guest stars, featuring singing, dancing and comedy sketches.
  • Des O'Connor Tonight (1977–2002) - A celebrity chatshow that also featured music and comedy.
  • Take Your Pick (1992–1998)
  • Des O'Connor Beat School (1999–2000) - A reality show where O'Connor was set the task of turning round the lives of problem children.
  • Today with Des and Mel (2002–2006) - A live afternoon chat and light entertainment show co-hosted by Melanie Sykes. The chemistry between the veteran O'Connor and relative newcomer Sykes made the show immensely popular, notably with students , giving O'Connor a whole new fanbase. However, on 12 May 2006, ITV announced that the show would be one of a number to be axed in a "painful, but utterly necessary" move[23416].
  • Countdown (2007-2008) - On 2 January 2007, Des O'Connor took over from Des Lynam as co-presenter (with Carol Vorderman) of Channel 4's long-running quiz show Countdown. He left the show in 2008 to spend more time on theatre and entertainment-based projects; his co-host Carol Vorderman has also left.
  • He appeared in a 2008 Tescomarker Christmas advert singing 'The Christmas Song'.


Singing career

Des O'Connor has had a successful career as a singer, recording 36 albums, four of which reached the Top 30 charts. His singing ability has been mocked frequently, notably by Britishmarker comedians Morecambe and Wise over many years and, more recently, Ricky Gervais. O'Connor has always taken criticism in good humour, even appearing with Morecambe and Wise on their 1975 Christmas Show in a sketch that mocked him.

In 1969, thirteen of his variety hours were pre-sold to NBC in the United States, as a summer replacement for the network's Kraft Music Hall. This series was broadcast in more than 40 countries and was seen by 200 million people worldwide. O'Connor sang old standards in a pleasant tenor ("Anytime" was his theme), and proved to be a capable light comedian. One of his signature routines is "The Name Song," a parody of Felix Arndt's "Nolamarker". Comedy writer-producer Tony Hawes wrote the clever lyrics, consisting largely of the names of old film stars: "Hillary Brooke, Elisha Cook, Sir C. Aubrey Smith and Freddie Bartholomew..." and so on as O'Connor rattles off the long string of names for several minutes.

Albums

Year Album
UK IRE
1968 "Careless Hands" -
1969 "1 2 3 O'Connor" -


Singles

Year Single Chart positions
UK IRE
1967 "Careless Hands" 6 -
1968 "I Pretend" 1 1
"1-2-3 O'Leary" 4 -
1969 "Dick-A-Dum-Dum" 14 -
"Loneliness" 18 -
1970 "I'll Go On Hoping" 30 -
"The Tips Of My Fingers" 15 -
1972 "Don't Let The Good Life Pass You By" - -
1975 "Feelings" - -
"Three Times A Lady" - -
1986 "The Skye Boat Song" 10 -


Compilations

  • Just For You - 20 Special Songs (Warwick) (1979)
  • Remember Romance - 20 Great Love Songs (Warwick) (1980)
  • Now - 16 Classic Songs (Telstar) (1984)


Personal life

Des O'Connor married his fiancée of 17 years, Australian singer, Jodie Brooke Wilson, on 23 September 2007. She gave birth to their first child (and O'Connor's fifth), Adam Harrison Campbell, in September 2004. He has four daughters from three previous marriages: Karen with Phyllis; Tracy and Samantha with dancer Gillian Vaughan; and Birmingham Universitymarker student Kristina with Swissmarker model Jay Rufer.

References

  1. BBC News Entertainment Des O'Connor to leave Countdown 25 July 2008
  2. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Des O'Connor to leave Countdown
  3. O'Connor weds fourth wife after 17-year romance


External links




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