HE WAS on mainstream television for 46 consecutive years and has played at venues all over the world including the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the London Palladium more than 1,000 times – and now Des O’Connor is headed for Dartford.
The veteran TV presenter, crooner and comic will bring his light-hearted show to The Orchard Theatre on for a matinee show on Wednesday, July 17.
The 81-year-old told Vibe that the audience could expect a fun show.
He said: “They can bring their auntie and gran and there’s no f’ing and blinding and swearing.
“The last time I was in Dartford was one of the funniest evenings I have had.
“The first half is very loose – we talk about what’s in the news. I don’t ask them questions because I don’t want to embarrass anybody but I find they join in. I’ll say has anybody got any personal problems? You wouldn’t believe some of the things they come out with. It’s just amazing.
“Sometimes I’ll ask someone to play piano for me. Sometimes they are so bad it is wonderful.
“The second half I have got a really good band with me. They’re wonderful, the best you can get.
“I never sing as bad as Eric (Morecombe) said I did. It is just fun. Over the years, the thing that remains constant is the live show. That’s what I do best.”
Lesser showmen may get nervous about walking on stage without a firm plan, but not Des.
He said: “You can sit down and try and write routines but nothing is funnier than the public and just letting things happen.
“I’m an entertainer more than a talk show host, more than a presenter. When I get on the stage I’m comfortable.
“I don’t worry that’s it’s going to be alright. I just know it. I can guarantee your readers they will go home with a smile on their faces.”
Des has worked with some massive names over the years; The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Robert Redford, and even toured with Buddy Holly. But he is coy on who has been the best to work with.
He said: “At Des O’Connor Tonight I used to look at the bill and think ‘I can’t believe all these people are on the show this week’.
“There was one day I was driving to Teddington and I got this bolt of fear, and I don’t normally get scared. There was Barbra Streisand, Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and Lionel Richie. I thought ‘all that in one afternoon’.”
Though other, more contemporary, performers often fall back on bad language, the former Countdown host is determined to keep it family-friendly.
He said: “There might be kids in the audience, there might be grannies, there might be the local vicar – I don’t want to get up on stage and start swearing.
“You don’t need it. You can just be warm and funny.
“You don’t have to be the most witty, satirical, surrealist comic they’ve heard. Just make them smile, make them laugh and send them home happy that they came out to see the show.
“That’s what I’ve done over the years and that’s what I hope to continue to do.
“I’m not going to retire, that’s for sure.”
See Des O’Connor at The Orchard from 2.30pm on Wednesday, July 17. Tickets cost £19.00, plus a £1.50 per ticket booking fee. Special offers are also available for ticket and pre-show lunch as well as post-show tea and cake. Go to orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.