Showbusiness legend Des O’Connor has notched up a 60-year career and recorded 36 albums along the way.
Ahead of his visit to Buxton Opera House this month, we find out from the irrepressible entertainer what’s in store from his audience:
Q. I’ve heard a fascinating statistic about you, you’ve starred in a mainstream television show in almost every year since 1963.
A. That’s true they can’t get rid of me.
Q. What can we expect from your live show?
A. On a couch on TV is one thing, asking questions, occasionally singing a song, it’s not the hardest job in the world. But getting on the stage live with a crowd is a real test of an entertainer. If you said to someone “go on, go and have a go and do two hours by yourself,” it’s not easy. These days I don’t worry about whether the audience will laugh, I know they are going to laugh. Q. Was it more difficult to decide what to leave out of your tour rather than what to put in?
A. You’ve hit the nail on the heade. I’ve been known to start off by saying to the audience, so what do you want to talk about? One night a woman shouted out a request for me to do a certain song and I said, “I’m sorry I haven’t got the sheet music.” And she said, “Well I have” and she was running down the aisle with the sheet music and we had to do it there and then. I Iove all those moments and I think the audience do too. Q. Talking about the singing career, was it blessing or a curse to have Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise being slightly unkind about your talents?
A. People find it hard to believe but we were friends. When I’d just started in the business they were very kind and helpful… we used to joke with one another and I would have tea in their dressing room. So when the insults started suddenly this private little joke became a national campaign. I couldn’t get into a taxi without “You are not going to sing are you, son?” My kids were shouted to at school, ‘your dad’s rubbish’ but I didn’t really mind. I think a lot of us take ourselves too seriously.
Q. Have you been to Buxton before?
A. I’m looking forward to getting back to Buxton, it’s a lovely little theatre.
Q. You and Mel, that was just magic TV, but not a pairing that you would have initially put together.
A. Mel has this wonderful sense of humour and she doesn’t know when she is putting her foot in it. We called it ‘Mel’s moments’. But she was also very well read and intelligent and it was great fun. Q. Of everyone who you’ve chatted to who is your favourite?
A. It’s difficult to pick one out. Tonight ran for 26 years and everybody was on. We were the first to interview Prime Ministers and royalty. The audience in Buxton will see quite a few clips of magic moments.
l Des O’Connor at Buxton Opera House on March 24, at 7.30pm. Tickets £24 to £28.