TV legend Des O'Connor dies aged 88

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

TV legend Des O'Connor has died aged 88.

Mr O'Connor had a long career on television and on stage, presenting prime-time shows for more than 45 years

He was admitted to hospital just over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.

He died "peacefully" in his sleep on Saturday.

His agent and family friend said on Sunday morning that Mr O'Connor always believed that the sound of laughter was like the sound of heavenly music.

In recognition for his career in entertainment, in 2008 he was awarded a CBE from the Queen.

A statement from his agent read: "He was a joy to work with – he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a total professional.

"He loved life, and considered enthusiasm almost as important as oxygen. He adored his family - they were everything to him.

Des O'Connor was awarded a CBE for services to entertainment and broadcasting by Queen Elizabeth II. Credit: PA

"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.

"He had a fabulous international TV career, presenting his own prime-time TV shows for over 45 years. On stage he starred at almost every leading venue throughout the world."

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise with Des O'Oconnor to present him with a gold disc for 100,000 sales of his album 'Just For You'. Credit: PA

Melanie Sykes, who hosted Today With Des And Mel alongside Mr O’Connor, said 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. “We worked long hours but always laughed lots, not least because when it it was showtime he would always tell me I looked like robbers dog! These years I will never forget and nor will I forget him. Darling Des you will be forever missed. Melanie x”.

Countdown panelist Susie Dent paid tribute to "true gent" O'Connor, having worked with him when he presented the show for two years.

She said: "We have lost a true gent, one who was never more than a note away from a song or a laugh, and who never failed to say ‘piddle, bum, and stocking tops’ if any of us fluffed a line.

"Countdown audiences adored him - and so did we. Sing on, Des."

Former Countdown star Carol Vorderman paid tribute to Des O’Connor on Twitter, writing: “RIP Des O’Connor. So sad this morning to hear that darling Des has passed away.

“He was the host of Countdown for a couple of years and was a joy to work with. Lively, funny, he ALWAYS wanted to entertain people.

“I will remember him most tho for his brilliant chat shows in the days when families would gather round the telly to watch , Des O’Connor was the King.

“We’d cry laughing when Freddie Starr would pretend to be behaving and things would go badly wrong. Des will surely be entertaining the angels now.

“Rest In Peace & Laughter my friend.”

Comedian Paul Chuckle tweeted: “RIP the brilliant Des O’Connor. From Butlins Redcoat to one of the best comedians AND singers in the business, and such a lovely guy. Sleep peacefully my friend."

Mr O'Connor launched his showbiz career in the mid-1950s and first began fronting his own TV show in 1963.

The four-times married star has appeared on stages around the world including hundreds of shows at the London Palladium.

He had his own US TV programme and his chat show Des O'Connor Tonight was a British television staple for a quarter of a century.

He hosted Channel 4 quiz show Countdown with Ms Vorderman, with the pair bowing out together in 2008.

Aged 75 in 2007, he married singer-songwriter Jodie Brooke Wilson, then 38, four years after he first proposed and 17 years after they first got together.

They had a son three years before the wedding.

He had four daughters from his three previous marriages.

His singing career saw him sell 16 million records and spend 117 weeks in top 10 of the charts.