‘Sorry I do waffle on, don’t I?” says singer and chat show host, Des O’Connor, as he becomes the interviewee rather than the interviewer. But a chatty interviewee is not a problem.
At the age of 80, Des O’Connor seems as bubbly, energetic and full of life as ever and, with a showbiz career spanning 45 years (and counting) he has plenty to chat about.
He is currently looking forward to coming to Northamptonshire on October 6, when he will be taking his An Evening With Des O’Connor tour to The Castle in Wellingborough.
And as someone who was once evacuated from London’s East End to Northamptonshire during World War Two, and then went on to not only work for the famous county shoe firm, Church’s, but also joined Northampton Town FC as a player, this area holds fond memories.
He said: “I lived in Northampton, I played football with the Cobblers and I know that part of the world very well. There is a definite feeling of coming home.
“I worked at Church’s for four years, went into the Air Force and after that I was stationed at Brampton. I used to joke that for two years I was in danger of being posted elsewhere. My mother lived there for 25 to 30 years, until she passed away.”
It was while in the Air Force that Des was asked to take part in a talent competition and won it. This sparked a career in showbusiness.
Despite the fact he has been an undeniably successful recording star, producing 36 albums and selling more than 16 million worldwide, Des’s singing career was often cruelly treated as a bit of a joke.
And, as Des admits good-naturedly, the comedians Morecambe and Wise with their repeated jibes at the singer’s vocal abilities, had a lot of do with that.
He said: “Any Saturday night I couldn’t get into a taxi without the driver saying ‘you aren’t going to sing are you?’ But I think it helped my career become durable. They knew it was a joke that got out of hand, it became a national laugh.”
Most recently his musical flair has seen him take to the stage at the London Palladium where he has been playing the title role in The Wizard of Oz, produced by Bill Kenwright and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Bill and Des go back a long way. He recalled: “I was touring with Buddy Holly and Bill Kenwright said ‘do you know Mr Holly?’ He asked me if I could get his autograph for him. I said I would take him back stage to meet him. Years later he put me in a show called Dreamboats and Petticoats and that went so well that Andrew Lloyd Webber asked me if I would do The Wizard of Oz. I have done 1,284 single performances at the Palladium.”
And now Des is looking forward to his solo show (with band) around the UK.
“I don’t go in and tell jokes,” he said. “I make the audience feel relaxed.
“If they want to tell me about their personal problems they can, it is amazing what people will come out with. There is no secret, I just try to send them home with a smile on their faces.”
The show starts at 7.30pm. To book, log on to www.thecas tle.org.uk or call 01933 270007.