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Melanie Sykes leads tributes following Des O'Connor's tragic death

The TV star was 88

Nichola Murphy

Melanie Sykes is among many friends and fans who have paid tribute to TV star Des O'Connor, after it was confirmed that he passed away following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.

MORE: In memoriam: the celebrities who have passed away in 2020

The London-born comedian and singer, who was known for Des O’Connor Tonight and Countdown, died on Saturday at the age of 88. In a statement, Des' agent Pat Lake-Smith wrote: "It is with great sorrow that I confirm that Des O'Connor passed away yesterday.

"He had been admitted to hospital just over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire.

"Unfortunately yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep."

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Mel took to Instagram to share a photo of herself with her close friend and co-star, writing: "Des had the softest hands of anyone I ever met and the kindest of hearts. He had talent in every fibre of his being and was stubborn as a mule. 

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"He was the full ticket as a friend and colleague. When he chose me to be his co-host on the ‘Today’ daytime show it was one the greatest days of my professional life. It was an education and a privilege to work with him for the years that followed. 

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Melanie Sykes paid tribute to Des O'Connor on Instagram

"We worked long hours but always laughed lots, not least because when it was showtime he would always tell me I looked like robbers dog! These years I will never forget and nor will I forget him. Darling Des you will be forever missed. Melanie x"

Many others shared their own tributes in the comments section, including Kate Thornton who wrote: "Such sad news to wake up to. So sorry for your loss. He was one in a million."

Gaby Roslin commented: "Oh Mel I am so so sorry. Sending you so much love. I know how close you two were and how you adored Des." Another fan commented: "You were fabulous together. Loved you both laughing together. Lots of love."

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The TV star was known for Des O’Connor Tonight

Countdown star Carol Vorderman also described him as "a joy to work with" on the Channel 4 quiz show.

"RIP Des O'Connor. So sad this morning to hear that darling Des has passed away. He was the host of Countdown for a couple of years and was a joy to work with. Lively, funny, he ALWAYS wanted to entertain people. I will remember him most tho for his brilliant chat shows," she wrote on Twitter. 

"In the days when families would gather round the telly to watch, Des O'Connor was the King. We'd cry laughing when Freddie Starr would pretend to be behaving and things would go badly wrong. Des will surely be entertaining the angels now. Rest In Peace & Laughter my friend."

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