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15 November 2020 18:35

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How entertainer Des O'Connor was a Norfolk favourite Des O'Connor played one-man shows at Norwich's Theatre Royal. Fond memories of legendary entertainer Des O'Connor's performances in Norfolk and Suffolk have been shared following his death at the age of 88. Des O'Connor (centre) in 1999 with Eric Morecambe (left) and Ernie Wise (right).Picture: PA Archive/PA Wire Des O'Connor (centre) in 1999 with Eric Morecambe (left) and Ernie Wise (right).Picture: PA Archive/PA Wire The television host, singer and comedian was a familiar face to Norfolk and Waveney audiences, having performed in Norwich, Lowestoft, Gorleston, and, most regularly, Great Yarmouth. Mr O'Connor presented prime time television for more than 45 years from the 1960s onwards, and was known for hosting quiz show Countdown, the chat show chat show Des O'Connor Tonight, and his appearances on the The Morecambe and Wise Show. Chris North, a magician who lives in Happisburgh, got to know Mr O'Connor when they performed at the same shows together at the Ladbrokes Caister Holiday Camp in the early 1980s.

How entertainer Des O’Connor was a Norfolk favourite

Mr North said: "He was top of the bill at some of their Sunday concerts and I was his support act. Des O'Connor being light-heartedly restrained by mace-bearing Yarmouth Town Hall staff and civic leaders during one of his summer seasons in the town. Picture: Archant Library Des O'Connor being light-heartedly restrained by mace-bearing Yarmouth Town Hall staff and civic leaders during one of his summer seasons in the town. Debbie Thompson, director of Yarmouth's St George's Theatre, said she remembered seeing Mr O'Connor on stage in Norwich playing Buttons in the panto Cinderella in the late 1960s. Mrs Thompson also fondly remembered his TV appearances on Morecambe and Wise. Des O'Connor in 2008 posing with his CBE for services to entertainment and broadcasting, which was presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, with wife Jodie and four-year-old son Adam. Picture: Johnny Green/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2008 posing with his CBE for services to entertainment and broadcasting, which was presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, with wife Jodie and four-year-old son Adam. Picture: Johnny Green/PA Wire She said: "He was always happy to have a laugh at his own expense. Entertainer Olly Day, from Thorpe St Andrew, also remembered how Mr O'Connor would play the foil to Morecambe and Wise's wit. Mr Day said: "They'd say things like 'I've got something for Des' latest record - it's a hammer. Mr Day saw Mr O'Connor perform in a one-man show at the Norwich Theatre Royal in the 1980s. He said: "He was on stage all night and he was fantastic. Michael Jeal, Great Yarmouth's mayor, also paid tribute to O'Connor having enjoyed his appearances on Morecambe and Wise. Mr Jeal said: "He was very funny. He took the good with the bad, like everyone. A former nostalgia columnist for the Great Yarmouth Mercury, Peggotty, remembered one of Mr O'Connor's very early performances. Des O'Connor arriving for the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the centenary of the London Palladium theatre in 2010. Picture: Max Nash/PA Wire Des O'Connor arriving for the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the centenary of the London Palladium theatre in 2010. Picture: Max Nash/PA Wire The writer said: "In the mid-1950s, I saw the then unknown Des along the A12 at Lowestoft's Arcadia Theatre in a modest show called Jimmy Currie's Water Follies, the finale featuring the entire cast in Highland dress singing by a 'river' crossed by a rustic bridge. After completing his national service with the Royal Air Force, Mr O'Connor had his first brushes with showbusiness when he began to appear in variety shows. Des O'Connor in 2001 with his Special Achievement Award at the National Television Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Picture: Myung Jung Kim/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2001 with his Special Achievement Award at the National Television Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Picture: Myung Jung Kim/PA Wire Mr O'Connor 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 four-times married star appeared on stage around the world. He was a regular part of Great Yarmouth's summer season line-up, performing at the Royal Aquarium and the Wellington and Britannia Piers. SHOWBIZ SUMMER SEASON SHOWFOLK AT GREAT YARMOUTH CIVIC BALL WITH DES O' CONNOR DATED 1964 PLATE P6373 SHOWBIZ SUMMER SEASON SHOWFOLK AT GREAT YARMOUTH CIVIC BALL WITH DES O' CONNOR DATED 1964 PLATE P6373 During the 2000s he appeared alongside fellow presenter Melanie Sykes in Today With Des And Mel, which saw the pair interview celebrity guests and run viewer competitions. In 2007 he took over presenting duties at quiz show Countdown on Channel 4, where he remained for two years. Mr O'Connor was made a CBE in 2008. Des O'Connor, top left, was part of the line-up for a 1964 Midnight Matinee on the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Archant Library Des O'Connor, top left, was part of the line-up for a 1964 Midnight Matinee on the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth. Des O'Connor Theatre Royal Des O'Connor Theatre Royal A cut-out from the Lowestoft Journal, showing Des O'Connor visiting five year old Lesley Slater in Lowestoft Hospital following his show at the Arcadia. Picture: Archant Library A cut-out from the Lowestoft Journal, showing Des O'Connor visiting five year old Lesley Slater in Lowestoft Hospital following his show at the Arcadia. File photo dated 20/08/2001 of Des O'Connor at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire File photo dated 20/08/2001 of Des O'Connor at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. Des O'Connor, 88, sadly passed away on Saturday 14 November. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire File photo dated 02/12/08 of entertainer Des O'Connor receiving a CBE for services to entertainment and broadcasting by Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace, London. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire File photo dated 02/12/08 of entertainer Des O'Connor receiving a CBE for services to entertainment and broadcasting by Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace, London. Entertainer Des O'Connor has died at the age of 88, his agent has said. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2008 with his wife Gillian and children Tracy-Jane, 6, and Samantha, 4, as they left Heathrow Airport, London, to spend Christmas in Barbados. Picture: PA/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2008 with his wife Gillian and children Tracy-Jane, 6, and Samantha, 4, as they left Heathrow Airport, London, to spend Christmas in Barbados. Picture: PA/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2011, arriving at a press event for 'The Wizard of Oz' at the London Palladium. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2011, arriving at a press event for 'The Wizard of Oz' at the London Palladium. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2001 with wife, the singer Jodie Wilson. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire Des O'Connor in 2001 with wife, the singer Jodie Wilson. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire Des O'Connor pictured in 1978. *** Local Caption *** Picture from Library Des O'Connor pictured in 1978. *** Local Caption *** Picture from Library Des O'Connor at the Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Archant Library Des O'Connor at the Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: Archant Library Des O'Connor (right) in 1978 with Eric Morecambe, in the Wellington Hospital, London. Picture: PA Archive/PA Wire Des O'Connor (right) in 1978 with Eric Morecambe, in the Wellington Hospital, London. Picture: PA Archive/PA Wire Des O'Connor signed this programme from his show at The Arcadia. Image: Archant Library Des O'Connor signed this programme from his show at The Arcadia. Image: Archant Library

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