Dermot O'Leary: A look back at This Morning star's TV career as he turns 50

The presenter has been on our screens for 25 years

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Dermot O'Leary attends ITV Palooza! at The Royal Festival Hall on November 23, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Dermot O'Leary has turned 50. (Getty Images)

Dermot O’Leary has turned 50, telling fans he marked the milestone with a “wild swim” and some steak.

The TV star posted a photo on Instagram showing him clutching gold balloons of the number “50” as he celebrated his big day.

“Thanks a million for all the lovely messages,” he posted.

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“Wild swim, brunch, walk, steak. 50… not so bad so far.”

O'Leary has now been on TV for half his life – 25 years.

We have a look at what he has done so far.

Acting dreams

O’Leary initially wanted to be an actor but had a lightbulb moment during a play he was in for a GCSE drama exam and changed his mind.

Speaking to The Guardian last year, he admitted that during the performance he realised he “didn’t have what it takes”.

Being a fan of people such as Terry Wogan and Jonathan Ross, he started to set his sights another part of the entertainment world.

Getting his big break

Landing his first job in a competitive industry wasn’t easy, with O’Leary previously sharing in interviews that he sent out hundreds of letters.

However, in 1995 he landed a job as a runner.

He told The Guardian that his big break came when he got the opportunity to show off his skills as he was working on 90s comedy chat show Light Lunch.

Dermot O'Leary outside the Barfly pub in Camden , 1st August 2000, London, England, United Kingdom.
Dermot O'Leary originally thought about an acting career. (PA Images/Alamy)

He explained: “They had sacked the guy who warms up the audience before the broadcast because they’d overheard him on the phone saying, ‘I can’t believe how much money I am getting for doing this!’

"I was asked to step in, without the huge wages, and when Andi Peters came on as a guest we got chatting afterwards.”

O’Leary said Peters told him he was setting up “this thing called T4” and suggested he went along for a screen test.

T4 success

T4 proved to be the launchpad for O’Leary as well as a host of other big names including Alexa Chung, Ben Shephard, Vernon Kay and Nick Grimshaw.

Dermot O'Leary photographed at the Barfly, 2nd August 2000, Camden London, England.
The TV star made a splash on T4. (PA Images/Alamy)

He was a presenter in the scheduling slot, which targeted teens and people in their 20s, from 1998 until 2001 and became a fan favourite.

The rising star also caught the eye of TV bosses at a time when the reality show juggernaut was just getting started.

Big Brother and X Factor

He went on to a hosting role on Big Brother spin-off Big Brother's Little Brother, which he did from 2001 to 2008.

Dermot O'Leary attending the X Factor Press Launch held at Picturehouse Central, London. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Dermot O'Leary was a presenter on The X Factor. (PA Images via Getty Images)

And in 2007 he got the nod from TV and music mogul Simon Cowell, landing an X Factor presenting job.

X Factor axe

Things took a bad turn in 2015 when it was reported that O’Leary had been dropped from the TV singing competition.

"After eight wonderful years on @TheXFactor it's time for me to move on," he tweeted at the time.

Simon Cowell and Dermot O'Leary attending the X Factor photocall held at Somerset House, London.
Simon Cowell with Dermot O'Leary on The X Factor. (PA Images/Alamy)

However, in 2016, he returned to the show.

Cowell was later quoted as saying that there was “probably a misunderstanding”.

“He came out to see me in Los Angeles," he told the Mirror. "He may have thought it was going to be an awkward meeting but it was one of the easiest I’ve have ever had.

"I think there was probably a misunderstanding. I thought he wanted to go and he probably thought I wanted him to leave. Neither of us, being stubborn, spoke to each other and then we realised that we miss him."

Soccer Aid

O’Leary is a massive fan of football and has hosted Soccer Aid since 2010.

He recently said the charity football match can serve up “crazy” moments that you wouldn’t see during a normal game.

The presenter told the PA news agency: “Whenever anyone says ‘anything can happen at live’ it normally means they don’t want anything to happen.

Manchester, UK. 04th Sep, 2021. Soccer Aid Live action featuring Dermot Oleary before the game at the Etihad Stadium 4 Sept 2021 Credit: Sharon Latham/Alamy Live News
Dermot O'Leary is a big part of Soccer Aid. (Sharon Latham/Alamy Live News)

“The great thing about Soccer Aid, as soon as you go live, you can’t control what’s going on on the pitch.”

This Morning

In 2020 rumours started circulating about O’Leary and Alison Hammond taking over from Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on This Morning.

The star, who’d already done some guest slots on the ITV show, was quizzed about it in an interview with Ireland AM but played his cards close to his chest, saying: "There’s nothing confirmed yet, but you know, we enjoyed doing the summer, so we’d like to do more.

The star hosts This Morning with Alison Hammond. (ITV)
The star hosts This Morning with Alison Hammond. (ITV)

"But at the same time, you don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes or treat anyone badly, so you’re always sort of caught between a rock and a hard place on that sort of stuff."

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However, in November that year it was confirmed that he and Hammond were officially joining the show’s regular presenting line-up and they took over as hosts on Fridays from January 2021.

Watch: Alison Hammond and Dermot O'Leary pay tribute to Phillip Schofield after his exit from This Morning