TV entertainer, Des O’Connor, has died at the age of 88, days after suffering a fall at this home.
The TV star, described as an “ultimate entertainer” who “shared the laughs,” died in hospital on Saturday 14 November.
‘Drifted peacefully away’
O’Connor’s long-time agent and family friend, Pat Lake-Smith, confirmed that the star passed away peacefully in his sleep, after his condition suddenly deteriorated after while in hospital.
In a statement, she said, “It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O’Connor passed away yesterday.
“He had been admitted to hospital just over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.
“He was recovering well and had been in great spirits, visited by his family - in accordance with hospital lockdown regulations - and looking forward to going home.
“Unfortunately, yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep.”
The popular star presented his own prime time TV programmes for more than 45 years, and was best known for the shows Today With Des and Mel and Des O’Connor Tonight, as well as hosting Countdown with Carol Vorderman.
He first fronted his own show in 1963, while the success of his singing career saw him sell 16 million records and spend 117 weeks in the top 10 of the charts.
The star was married four times, and appeared on stages around the world, including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.
Tributes for the star
Friends and former colleagues of O’Connor have paid tribute to the star following the tragic news, with the star remembered as being “so well-loved” and “a joy to work with.”
Entertainer Jimmy Tarbuck, said, “He was a kind person. He is one of the few people in showbusiness who become national heroes.
“Cilla Black was a national hero. The Beatles are national heroes and Des O’Connor was one.”
The pair spoke just 10 days before his death and worked together on stage just last year.
Tarbuck added, “He was terrific… He was frail and he took it easy, but he was terrific. He had the audience cheering at the end and was a pleasure to work with.
“He was very generous in sharing the laughs and not all comedians are like that.
“He had that thing, which is essential – they (the audience) loved him. They relaxed when you said, ‘Here’s Des now.’ Only a few have it.”
At 72, the chat show host became a father again with his fiancee, Jodie Brooke Wilson. The couple later married, when O’Connor was 75 and Wilson was 38. He had four daughters from his three previous marriages.
O’Connor was also made a CBE in 2008 for his services to entertainment and broadcasting.
Melanie Sykes, who fronted Today With Des And Mel alongside O’Connor, paid tribute to him, saying it was an “education and a privilege to work with him.”
She wrote on Instagram, “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.”
His agent said that O’Connor was “so well-loved by absolutely everyone” and that he was “a joy to work with - he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a total professional.”
She added, “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.
“Jodie’s world is shattered, she and Adam and Des’s daughters are hurting more than you could possibly imagine.
“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.”
Comedian Tommy Cannon, 82, said he will “always remember him… like a best pal.”
Cannon, known for performing alongside his late comedy partner Bobby Ball, said that O’Connor was “a lovely man and all I can say is rest in peace mate because both Bobby and I loved you.”
Writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth hailed O’Connor as the last of the “all-round variety entertainers,” stating, “Whatever you wanted in entertainment, Des O’Connor could provide, so he was in a way the last of his kind.”