Watch: Tom O'Connor has died at the age of 81
Comedian Tom O’Connor has died aged 81, his family has announced.
The entertainer, born in Bootle, Merseyside , was best known for presenting a number of hit gameshows including Crosswits and Name That Tune.
O’Connor died on Sunday morning, his family confirmed via his agent. In a statement, his daughter-in-law, the former athlete Denise Lewis, said O’Connor had died following a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
His family said his condition had worsened in the past two years.
He leaves a wife - Patricia - and four children.
O’Connor’s comedy career started out in working men’s clubs, however he broke into television on shows including The Comedians and Opportunity Knocks.
He then went on to establish himself as a household name through the 70s and 80s including in Pick Pockets and The Zodiac Game.
O’Connor hosted Name That Tune from 1976 until 1983.
Later in his career O’Connor continued to appear on television, starring in BBC soap Doctors in the early 2000s and the celebrity edition of Come Dine With Me in 2010.
In 2011 he also appeared on the Pointless Celebrities quiz show with his daughter-in-law Denise Lewis - the former Olympic athlete.
Lewis told the BBC there has been “such an outpouring of affection for Tom” following his death.
She added: “His whole mantra was about making people laugh.
“If you met him that’s all he wanted to do, which is make you feel good about yourself, which is a cherished quality which we don’t probably see enough of today.
“He lived with Parkinson’s for about 14 years and we saw him coping very well and in the latter couple of years, it really started to take a hold and it’s tragic.
“But without a doubt, Tom always tried to make light of it and even at the end, when he lost his battle with the disease, you could see that spark in his eyes, that humour still coming through those eyes of his right to the end.”
TV presenter Piers Morgan also paid tribute to O’Connor.
“RIP Tom O’Connor, 81. Comedian, TV game show host, Liverpool legend & a very funny man,” he tweeted.
“Sad news. Thanks for all the laughs, Tom.”
BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker tweeted: “How sad. I had the pleasure of meeting Tom O’Connor and he was kind, funny and a true gent.
“I loved watching him on telly – Crosswits was great. My sympathies are with his family and friends.”
Carl Hunter, bassist in the Liverpool-based group The Farm, tweeted: “Very sad to hear about the passing of Bootle’s Tom O’Connor. I directed this film with him a few years ago. He was great.”
Carol Vorderman, who starred on Countdown with O’Connor when he made guest appearances on the show, said he “made so many of us who knew him smile as soon as he entered the room”.
She added: “Tom was often on Countdown & made us howl laughing all day long. I’ll miss you Tom. You were one of the very best. Rest In Laughter Sir.”
Former boxer Frank Bruno paid tribute to O’Connor in a post on Twitter.
He wrote: “Tom O’Connor RIP I worked with Tom many times over the years a real comical character he was so quick I was still laughing at a previous joke when had told another one, great all round entertainer.”
Liverpool City Council paid tribute to O’Connor in a post on its official Twitter page.
“Sad news breaking about the death of veteran Liverpool comedian Tom O’Connor,” it said.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Thanks for the laughs, Tom.”
Former EastEnders actor Stuart Anthony paid tribute to O’Connor in a post on Twitter.
He wrote: “Very sad to hear that Tom O’Connor has passed away.
“He was a lovely man with some great stories.
“My thoughts are with his family.”
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