TV Cream

TV: D is for...

Des O’Connor Show, The

TITANIC UPHILL STRUGGLE between two equally unimpressive vocations jostling perilously inside the one man: to wit, the half-arsed irritating comic (“Dandy Sandy!”), and then the ultra-laidback, treacly baritone (“I Pretend” etc.). Contest played out on the small screen for a whole bloody decadet.



  1. THX 1139

    August 18, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I have a memory of Bernie Winters on a chat show that might have been this one (can’t recall if Des was rolling around on his sofa) where he sang “Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a sausage up your nose!” a la The Sound of Music. This was such a non sequitur that it really made me laugh, but I’ve no idea where he was going with it. Anyone remember that?

  2. Glenn Aylett

    August 18, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    It was revived in 1983 by Thames and ran for several years. Premise was the same, a bit of music, comedians and light actors as guests, and rather a winning formula. Obviously the alternative gang weren’t welcome, but people like Jethro and Duncan Norvelle were regulars.

  3. THX 1139

    August 18, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    I hadn’t noticed there were two long-lasting runs, I was referring to the second one, where Freddie Starr dressed at Hitler would appear every other week. Unless Freddie did that in the 60s and 70s too.

  4. Glenn Aylett

    August 18, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Des O Connor was a popular feature on ITV Wednesday nights after Coronation St for several years in the eighties. Since ITV didn’t have many comedy hits at the time, this show was one way of ITV getting a comedy themed hit and was quite unique as some of the serious guests who would appear on Wogan weren’t welcome on Des’s show.

  5. George White

    November 9, 2020 at 8:39 am

    in 1971-72, shown in the US where it was part of the kraft Music Hall.

  6. Droogie

    November 9, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    I quite liked Des’s BBC2 show in the late 70’s, if only for the fact he’d book a young American comedian on each show. Acts like a young Garry Shandling and Jay Leno appeared , and Kelly Monteith proved so popular he got his own BBC show that ran for several years. This new style of slick observational stand-up was a revelation compared to the old school British acts trotting out the same jokes. Bob Monkhouse presented a similar show in the 80’s and had great acts like Steven Wright and Emo Phillips appear too.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    November 9, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    Des and Bob were the lighter end of the chat show boom of the eighties and while Des still had the old school comedians that appealed more to the ITV audience, Bob on BBC Two often had people like Joan Rivers and her risque humour. It’s amazing how big chat shows were in the decade, Parkinson and Wogan were the undoubted kings of chat and had a huge range of guests from politicians to Hollywood stars, but you had Des O Connor, Bob Monkhouse, Dame Edna and Michael Aspel all fighting for the title.

    • Richardpd

      November 9, 2020 at 11:07 pm

      Not to mention a few others like Russell Harty & Clive James.

      Channel 4 also tried showing RTE’s The Late Late Show & The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson around this time to add to the mix.

      I presume this was the root of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy joke about making a like just appearing on chat shows.

      • Sidney Balmoral James

        November 10, 2020 at 6:35 pm

        The Late Late Show looked excruciatingly shabby to me as a child (although it was legendary in Ireland). The credits at the beginning still had David Niven in them, who had died some years before, there was a clumsy voice over as if the floor manager was on mike – although the phrase ‘Ladies and gentlemen, to whom it may concern’ sticks in the mind – and it had strange cuts (presumably by Channel 4 to fit into a shorter slot). Gay Byrne would walk on, as if to do an introductory spiel, and then it would cut to him sitting down to greet the first guest.

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