TV Cream

TV: O is for...

O’Connor, Tom

No finer embodiment of the affably smart-but-casual manWE’VE BEEN treated to a succession of vehicles for Scouse stand-up and self-styled “Mr Clean” Tom O’Connor down the years, following the man’s graduation from maths teacher via OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS to THE COMEDIANS. First off was THE TOM O’CONNOR SHOW (1976-7) for Thames, which was yer bog-standard frilly-shirted patter. Then came TOM O’CONNOR (1984-87) in which Tom promised to “take the lid off life” in a succession of “quickfire sketches” featuring DEREK GRIFFITHS, MIKE “BLUE RIBAND” BERRY, CHRIS “321” EMMETT and CHERRY “HOT SHOE SHOW” GILLESPIE. Best of all, though, was travelling lunchtime entertainment showcase THE TOM O’CONNOR ROADSHOW (1987), in the slot vacated by DOMESDAY DETECTIVES. This entailed O’Connor and ‘Mill-level guests pitching up at some dismal provincial outpost for a week, meeting “the local characters” and attempting to entertain the few busfuls of pensioners who showed up thinking it was Des O’Connor. Highlight was The Accumulator Game, in which three contestants’ scores were symbolised by cardboard buses trundling across the screen. Still on telly, mostly in Dictionary Corner, but there’s no reason at all why this most genial of gents shouldn’t be, say, hosting the Lottery or The One Show. Fact.



  1. Chris O

    October 4, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    …And the only person to escape from ‘Live Into ’85’ with any semblance of an intact reputation. Even Michael Grade said so.

    Shame we never got to see more of ‘A Question of Entertainment’ with Tommo at the helm. Always felt it could have lasted a fair while under his guidance.

  2. David Pascoe

    October 4, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    The O’Connor reputation seems to have been re-evaluated on TV Cream in recent years, given that on the old site, the entry for “Crosswits” ended with:

    “He’d always finish by saying, “Hey, never a cross word, just for me alright?” Twat.”

    The re-evaluation is welcome because he hosted the seminal ITV midweek gameshow, “Name That Tune” and I always used to enjoy “The Tom O’Connor Roadshow” given that I was one of the few kids in my junior school who used to have home dinners.

    • TV Cream

      October 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm

      TV Cream has always been O’Connor friendly – we just occasionally succumb to the temptation of an idiotic joke when we can’t come up with something genuinely witty (which is fairly often, admittedly). We’re flattered by the idea we’re sophisticated enough to make re-evaluations, though – aside from taking an unexpected shine to Nicky Campbell after he wrote us a really nice email, we’re pretty much stuck in our ways, alas.

    • Applemask

      August 30, 2019 at 10:25 pm

      He’s not a twat, but Crosswits did make a twat of him by making him say that.

  3. goodpudding

    October 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    The Tom O’Connor Roadshow most famous for being interupted by a bomb scare whilst in Belfast… Leading to an announcer flustering for a full 40 minutes whilst no-one knew what was going on… I witnessed the whole thing in Hammersmith Hospital, was surreal at the least…

  4. glam_racket

    October 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    What do you do for a living?

    I’m in oil.

    Are you a sardine?

  5. Angryhead

    October 7, 2009 at 2:48 am

    I agree with TVC’s introduction piece that “there’s no reason at all why this most genial of gents shouldn’t be, say, hosting the Lottery or The One Show”. However, this would only work if he dumped the joke-telling and occasional stabs at witty comments, which were always cringeworthy at best.
    I actually met Tom O’Connor back when I was a young kid. My parents used to own a restaurant in the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth. Between the 50s and 80s many top TV stars appeared there for summer season stints. A huge amount of these Creamy celebs ate at my parent’s ‘gaff’. Tom was one of them. I think it was probably 1977 .. or ’76 (not sure, actually).
    I can also recall him judging our summer fancy dress parade at my local primary school. The poor sod sat on a portable school stage in our playground (anyone remember those portable / movable stages that were in the school hall?) with a selection of teachers for hours watching us parading past him in our garb.
    I’ll never forget the winner of the contest. He was an ‘odd’ fellow at the best of times. He opted for the Simple But Effective approach appearing in a black plastic bin bag with a sign on it which read, “RUBBISH”.
    Pure class….

  6. Glenn A

    October 25, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    He is a nice bloke that the more cynical at the time found it fashionable to knock. So what if he hosted ITV variety shows in the seventies, it was what the punters wanted and the shows were generally well made and very watchable for their time. I wonder what he’s doing now as he was the face of Thames entertainment shows for years.

  7. richardpd

    August 30, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    The Zodiac Game was another of the shows he presented.

    I remember he lost once his database of jokes by leaving the floppy disc they were saved on too close to his microwave.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    August 31, 2019 at 10:26 am

    O Connor was probably the biggest name in light entertainment in the late seventies on ITV. Wednesday At 8/ London Night Out could pull in 18 million viewers and for all some of the guests were past their sell by date, Harry Worth seemed to appear quite a bit, Name That Tune and O Connor’s observational humour were always the best parts. Also worth checking out is Benny Hill sending up Name That Tune on his show.

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