Des O'Connor


By Jeremy Miles

For a man who celebrated his 70th birthday earlier this year, Des O'Connor is in pretty good shape. But the veteran entertainer and talk show host, fit as he is, admits that when it comes to stamina he's nowhere near the Angus Deayton league.

We are talking the day after Deayton's cocaine-fuelled sex romps with a prostitute have been so thoughtfully catalogued by the News of the World.

"Blimey, I'd need 48 hours notice and jump leads to do that," jokes Des.

The comment proves just one thing - that after nearly 50 years in showbusiness Des still cannot resist a good gag.

He scours the papers daily - "not just the News of the World but all of them... The Guardian, The Times and even The Star to keep my stage act topical."

Although many news stories dwell on the seedier side of life, Des is first and foremost a family entertainer.

And that is what the audience who see him when his latest UK tour arrives at the Bournemouth Pavilion tomorrow night will get what he describes simply as "a damn good evening's entertainment".

"It's a family show but not sanctimonious. It gets a little cheeky here and there but there's nothing to shock or offend anybody. It's just a great evening of fun."

It's hard to believe, talking to this self-assured entertainer who has worked all over the world and been on prime-time TV for nearly 40 years, that he once suffered from crippling stage fright.

Yet the first time he played the Glasgow Empire back in the '50s he was so terrified that he fainted.

Today he says he's more relaxed on stage than almost anywhere else. Yet he has no lofty ideas about himself.

"I've never felt like a big star. I don't wake up in the morning and think of myself as being important or famous.

"To be honest, at my age, I'm just glad to wake up at all.

"Seriously though, I do feel that I am very lucky to do what I do.

"I love it and I get paid very well for doing it. Basically I have a damn good life."

© Jeremy Miles 2022