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Gerrards Cross star O'Connor reveals how he stays upbeat
I CAN'T believe Des O'Connor is 80. Seeing him on TV he always seems so much younger with his upbeat personality and sprightly figure. And talking to him on the phone was no different.
The entertainer who was made even more famous in the 70s by being the butt of Morecambe and Wise's jokes lives in Gerrards Cross and is bringing his show to the Wycombe Swan.
He talks about ad-libbing, having an eight-year-old son and what keeps him feeling young. With his trademark laugh it is hard not to giggle when talking to Des O'Connor. He chatty and fun to talk to and seems to be loving life.
He has not long finished a stint in The Wizard of Oz at the Palladium as the Wizard and the Professor, which he said he took a while to get into it.
He said: "It is so different to when you are in a concert. You do it so ad-lib and whatever comes into your head. "The Wizard of Oz was more of an acting part. In a concert it is just me.
"Recently, there is one scene where I walk forward and say: 'There is no other wizard like me.'
"As I walked forward I tripped and I said: 'What kind of a wizard am I? I can't even walk properly.' "Everyone in the audience enjoyed it. When I went backstage the company management said that is not in the script."
And he said he was in every performance he was scheduled for- even Toto the dog got more days off than him. The dad of five, who has four daughters from his previous three marriages and one son with his wife, Jodie, landed his first television series in the UK in 1963 and his career hasn't seemed to relax since then.
He famously appeared regularly as a guest on the Morecambe and Wise show, being the butt of many of their jokes, which he happily played along with. Not only has he had his own TV show for more than 45 years he is also a successful recording artist, having released 36 albums. And it is touring with his own show, which he loves best.
He said: "I really love the live concerts. That is the thing I love best. That is what I am best at. Doing what I am doing. Nothing rehearsed. Just doing it. "In the first part of the show I say has anyone got any personal problems?
"You wouldn't believe the sort of conversations I have.
"I had one woman who said I am having trouble with my man. I thought I better be careful here. I don't know where this is going to take me. "I said you mean he won't put a cupboard up. She said you know what I mean.He's not doing what a man should do.
"I thought I better stop this, this could get out of hand and I mentioned her husband. And she then said: 'It is not my husband it is my man.'"
He said people ask him if is set up but he said of course, it isn't. "Just look at the band, who are in stitches. They couldn't laugh at the same thing every night."
And it is his experience which gives him the ability to walk onstage without a script and enjoy himself.
Des said: "It is a wonderful feeling. That is the best part of it for me. It is just wonderful. It is two hours of fun. I have never done a day's work in my life.
"Not since I came into showbiz. It's work if you hate it. When you hear that laughter and applause it is the best reward anyone can ever have."
And he said he is learning and being offered new challenges all the time. Since starring in the West End he has been offered a comedy drama on ITV. And this is just one of the things which helps keep him young. He said: "There are one or two basic rules. Cliff Richard and I were talking. I said I tell you what I do I only have one meal a day. He said so do I.
"A lot of people eat because it is lunchtime, not because they are hungry."
And he does goes for brisk walks four or five times a week for half an hour.
His eight-year-old son, Adam, also keeps him running around. He said: "I look at my age and think there must be a mistake on my passport. If you think old you are going to be old. I am loving it and looking forward to it."
He of course, was a presenter of Countdown for two years from 2007, which he said was a challenge. He said he can remember on one show saying he had a new album coming out. On that show was an intelligent, young contestant.
Des laughed: "When it came to the commercial break he said: 'Congratulations on your new career and making an album.' I couldn't tell him it was my 36th."
Another time in dictionary corner Susie said she had a seven and an eight word, virginal and tactile, and I said make your mind up.
But ultimately he said: "I missed the thrill of walking out in front of an audience."
He hasn't quite made it to Twitter or Facebook yet, although he was encouraged by his daughters.
His friend and former co-presenter, Melanie Sykes, recently caused a fuss in the media after she flirted quite publicly on Twitter with a fan called Jack Cockings, who she is now happily engaged to.
Des said: "The reason I love Mel is she never stops laughing. From the moment we meet me are giggling."
But back to the show, which is a mixture of songs and jokes. He said: "I am looking forward to High Wycombe. I did the only stage DVD from there in 1995. I must be Methuselah. I have been around for a while. I love the theatre there."
"The other thing you can tell the readers. If they go along to the Swan they needn't worry about swearing. I just don't want to do it. It is family fun entertainment.
"Just come along and listen and I know they will be laughing. I know they will enjoy the music."
He seems a true born entertainer and seemingly doesn't take life too seriously.
He said: "I know it is a cliché but they are all true. Enjoy every single day. Stop worrying about tomorrow, when tomorrow comes it will be today."
Des O'Connor is at the Wycombe Swan on Sunday, October 14 at 7pm. Tickets range from £21.50-£23.50. To book call 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk
For more leisure stories go to www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/leisure for more interviews, I Love My Local and gigs listings.
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