Des O'Connor at 80: 'I'm ready for another series'

Des O'Connor at 80: 'I'm ready for another series'
Des O'Connor at 80: 'I'm ready for another series' (Image credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima)

Legendary entertainer Des O’Connor talks to TV Times magazine about celebrating his 80th birthday... To mark your 80th birthday, ITV asked you to make a TV special – The One and Only Des O'Connor, which screens on Easter Sunday at 7.30pm... “It’s a nice pat on the back, I’m looking forward to it! It’s going to be a bit of everything – some friends, some surprises and I think there just might be a duet...” We can’t wait! “It’s going to be a fun. I still do concerts and they are the best two hours of the day for me, I just love being out there entertaining.” You had an unlikely start to your career, while completing national service in the RAF... “There was one time I was doing an impression of the commanding officer and all the boys stopped laughing. I heard this slow clapping and the officer was there. He said, 'Very funny O'Connor. I think the entire camp should see that.' I was literally ordered onto the stage!” What would you say is one of the biggest highlights of your career? “It was wonderful filming An Audience with Des O'Connor in 2001. Walking on to 500 famous faces and seeing them all stand up. It made up for all the insults over the years!” This business must have changed a lot since you started 50 years ago... “Of course showbiz has changed and it’s important that the performer changes with it. You cannot do the same old thing year after year and expect to stay on. That’s why I did Des and Mel and then Countdown, which again was different, but a challenge. Madonna has taught us all a lesson – she keeps reinventing herself and you may not approve, but it certainly won’t be boring!” It must be tough sometimes, though... “Have you ever heard of a surgeon getting a standing ovation? A great milkman or postman doesn’t get an award. We get well paid, we’re respected and people like to be in your company. It’s wonderful! I’ve not done a day’s work since I came into showbusiness!” Do you think this could hint at a comeback for you? “I am ready to do another series. Since I did Piers Morgan’s Life Stories the phone keeps ringing and I just feel maybe it’s right to come back again. I’ve also got some solid ideas for series, so we’ll see. You think chewing gum is hard to get off a stage? Get Des on!”

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.