Des O'Connor

Des O'Connor
Des O'Connor
Born Bernard Desmond O'Connor
12 January 1932 (1932-01-12) (age 79)
Stepney, East London, England
Nationality British
Ethnicity White British
Occupation Broadcaster, musician, comedian
Years active 1956–present
Television The Des O'Connor Show (1963–71)
Des O'Connor Entertains (1974–76)
Des O'Connor Tonight (1977–2002)
Take Your Pick (1992–98)
Today with Des and Mel (2002–06)
Countdown (2007–08)
Spouse Phyllis Gill (m. 1953–1959) «start: (1953)–end+1: (1960)»"Marriage: Phyllis Gill to Des O'Connor" Location: (linkback:// (divorced); 1 daughter
Gillian Vaughan (m. 1960–1982) «start: (1960)–end+1: (1983)»"Marriage: Gillian Vaughan to Des O'Connor" Location: (linkback:// (divorced); 2 daughters
Jay Rufer (m. 1985–1990) «start: (1985)–end+1: (1991)»"Marriage: Jay Rufer to Des O'Connor" Location: (linkback:// (divorced); 1 daughter
Jodie Brooke Wilson (m. 2007–present) «start: (2007-09-23)»"Marriage: Jodie Brooke Wilson to Des O'Connor" Location: (linkback://; 1 son

Des O'Connor, CBE (born Desmond Bernard O'Connor on 12 January 1932) is an English comedian and singer. A former talkshow host, he was the presenter of the long-running Channel 4 gameshow Countdown for two years. He has also recorded thirty-six albums and has had four top-ten singles, including a number one hit with I Pretend.



O'Connor was born on 12 January 1932 in Stepney, East London to Maude (née Bassett) and Harry O'Connor. O'Connor has a sister, Patricia, who is one year his junior. He wrote in his autobiography, Bananas Can't Fly!, that he is probably the only O'Connor ever to have had a Bar Mitzvah. He was evacuated to Northampton during World War II and was briefly a professional footballer with Northampton Town.[1] 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.

O'Connor suffers from an overwhelming fear of Monster Munch, causing major problems whilst on tour in the UK.

On stage he has starred at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the Sydney Opera House, The O'Keefe Centre, Toronto and has made over 1,000 solo appearances at the London Palladium.[citation needed]

He has 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.[citation needed]

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

He was the very first special guest on the second - and most popular - incarnation of the long-running TV guest show This Is Your Life.[2]

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours.[3]


  1. Phyllis Gill (married 1953, divorced 1959); 1 daughter, Karen O'Connor [4]
  2. Gillian Vaughan (married 1960, divorced 1982); 2 daughters, TJ O'Connor, Samantha O'Connor [5]
  3. Jay Rufer (married 1985, divorced 1990); 1 daughter, Kristina O'Connor [6] [7]
  4. Jodie Brooke Wilson (married 16 September 2007); 1 son Adam O'Connor [8] [9]

Television work

Des O'Connor has starred in a mainstream TV show in almost 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 (1963–1971)
  • Des O'Connor Entertains (1974–76) - 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 (1992–98)
  • Today with Des and Mel (2002–06) - A live afternoon chat and light entertainment show co-hosted by Melanie Sykes. 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.[10]
  • Countdown (2007–08) - 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 since left.[11]
  • He appeared in a 2008 Tesco Christmas advert singing 'The Christmas Song'.

Singing career

O'Connor has had a successful career as a singer, recording thirty six albums,[12] five of which reached the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart. His singing ability has been mocked frequently, notably by British comedians Morecambe and Wise over many years and, more recently, Ricky Gervais.[citation needed] 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 forty countries and was seen by 200 million people worldwide.[citation needed]



Year Single Chart positions
UK[13] 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 -


Year Album
UK[13] IRE
1968 I Pretend 8 -
1970 With Love 40 -
1972 Sing A Favourite Song 25 -
1980 Just for You 17 -
1984 Des O'Connor Now 24 -
1992 Portrait 63 -
2001 A Tribute to the Crooners 51 -


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


External links

Preceded by
Michael Miles
Host of Take Your Pick
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Des Lynam
Host of Countdown
Succeeded by
Jeff Stelling

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Des O’Connor — Chartplatzierungen Erklärung der Daten Singles Careless Hands UK: 6 – 01.11.1967 – 17 Wo. I Pretend UK: 1 – 08.05.1968 – 36 Wo. One, Two, Three O Leary UK: 4 – 20.11.1968 – 11 Wo. Dick A Dum Dum (King s Road) UK: 14 – 07.05.1969 – 10 Wo.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Des O'Connor Tonight — Format chat show Presented by Des O Connor Country of origin United Kingdom No. of series 7 (bbc2),  ?? (ITV) No. of epis …   Wikipedia

  • Kraft Music Hall Presents The Des O'Connor Show — was the title given by NBC to the UK ATV Network chat show presented by Des O Connor in the early 1970s. The show was distributed to NBC by ITC Entertainment.Each show was a mixture of music, variety and chat, with O Connor both singing and… …   Wikipedia

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