Mel Sykes leads Des O’Connor tributes as beloved entertainer dies in his sleep
Mel Sykes has led the tributes to the late, great, Des O'Connor, who has died at the age of 88.
The former Countdown presenter died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, having been admitted to hospital one week ago after suffering a fall in his Buckinghamshire home.
Once news of O'Connor's tragic death broke, Mel took to Instagram to pay tribute to her friend and former colleague's legacy, praising his "kind heart".
The pair co-hosted the ITV daytime series Today With Des and Mel from 2002 until 2006, featuring interviews with celebrity guests and on-air competitions.
Mel shared a recent photo of herself and O'Connor, in which she could be seen wrapping him into a hug as they smiled at the camera.
Bidding farewell to her friend, Mel wrote: "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."
ITV star Piers Morgan has also paid tribute to O'Connor's glittering reputation on the screen, reflecting on the singer's charisma and warmth both on and off-air.
He said: "RIP Des O'Connor, 88.
"A wondrously talented, warm, funny, charming man. Truly one of the nicest people in showbiz.
"What very sad news. Thanks for all the fun, Des."
O'Connor's agent confirmed his death in a statement shared on Sunday morning, confirming his family had been able to visit him in hospital in the days before his death.
It read: "Des, who was 88, was so well-loved by absolutely everyone. 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. 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."
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