Melanie Sykes and Carol Vorderman lead tributes to Des O’Connor

Melanie Sykes has led tributes to her former presenting partner Des O'Connor following his death aged 88.

Sykes and O'Connor, who died in hospital on Saturday after a fall at his home, presented Today With Des And Mel from 2002-2006.

She said O'Connor "had the softest hands of anyone I ever met and the kindest of hearts".

In a post on Instagram, she wrote: "He had talent in every fibre of his being and was stubborn as a mule. 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.

"We worked long hours but always laughed lots, not least because when it 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".

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Des O’Connor
English comedian Des O'Connor (left) with pop singer Cliff Richard during rehearsals for the show 'Stars In Your Eyes' at the London Palladium, 26th May 1960. (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Des O'CONNOR; Des O'Connor performing on tv show (Photo by David Farrell/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Des O'Connor performs on stage in the 1960's. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
Gillian Vaughan, wife of comedian Des O'Connor, had a baby daughter five days ago, their first child. Tracy Jane was photographed with her parents in the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. Tracy has a lot of dark hair and weighed 7lbs 2oz at birth, 26th November 1962. (Photo by Doreen Spooner/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Actor Des O'Connor with wife, actress Gillian Vaughan, and daughter Tracy Jane, 6th August 1963. (Photo by Howard Walker/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Singer and entertainer Des O'Connor with his daughters Samantha and Tracy, at their home in Great Yarmouth, circa 1960-1970. (Photo by Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of Des O'CONNOR; Des O'Connor performing on tv show (Photo by David Farrell/Redferns)
10th November 1969: Queen Elizabeth II meets Mireille Mathieu during the aftershow presentation following the Royal Variety Performance, which had taken place at the London Palladium; also seen here are (left to right) Bernard Delfont, Danny La Rue and Des O'Connor. (Photo by Tim Graham/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
26th August 1971: Irish comedian and singer Des O'Connor in his riding silks at Newmarket stables where he is training for the Epsom Champagne Amateur Riders Derby. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Comedians Eric Morecambe (right) and Ernie Wise with presenter Des O'Connor (centre) on the Christmas special of the BBC television series 'The Morecambe and Wise Show', 1975. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Images)
British pop star Engelbert Humperdinck (c) celebrates with fellow stars Freddie Starr (l) and Des O'Connor (r) at a party in London following a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Des O'Connor plays genial host to his guests Jimmy Tarbuck and Mart Caine. The recording of Des' first ITV Christmas Show was taking place at Thames studios. 18th November 1983. (Photo by Alisdair MacDonald/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Singer and entertainer Des O'Connor in hospital with a broken leg, being visited by friend and fellow entertainer Eric Morecambe, Wellington Hospital, London, February 27th 1978. (Photo by Frank Barratt/Keystone/Getty Images)
LONDON - OCTOBER 23: British television presenter Des O'Connor and his wife and daughter attend the "Royal Television Awards" at the Royal Albert Hall on October 23, 2001 in London. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Janet Jackson interview on Des O'Connor Show, London, 2nd December, 1997. (Photo by Jo Hale/Redferns)
Today With Des And Mel' Tv Programme, Britain - 25 Feb 2004, Des O'Connor And Melanie Sykes (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Des O'Connor arrives at the reception party for Sir Elton John and David Furnish at their Old Windsor mansion, Wednesday December 21, 2005. The couple 'married' in a Civil Partnership Ceremony earlier today at Windsor Guildhall. (Photo by Matt Faber - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) (L to R) Richard Madeley, Judy Finnigan, Des O'Connor and Cilla Black attend a party celebrating the addition of veteran entertainer Des O'Connor to the cast of the West End Production of "Dreamboats And Petticoats" at the Playhouse Theatre on October 20, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

O'Connor, who was famous for shows such as Des O'Connor Tonight and Countdown, was mourned by many from the world of entertainment.

Former Countdown star Carol Vorderman expressed her sadness at the news as she recalled O'Connor saying he was "lively, funny, he ALWAYS wanted to entertain people".

In two posts on Twitter, she wrote: "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 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."

Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness tweeted: "Such sad news. Des O'Connor was never afraid to laugh at himself and that was part of his charm. Whether it was Eric Morecambe ridiculing him, or Freddie Starr smashing his studio set up, Des always laughed along. Another part of my childhood telly viewing gone. RIP Des O'Connor".

TV star Kate Robbins said Des O'Connor was a "true pro and a gorgeous person".

She tweeted: "I'm so sad to hear that the wonderful Des O'Connor has died. He was a true pro and a gorgeous person. My love to Jodie and all his family at this sad time. Rest in peace Des. You are sorely missed already #RipDesOConnor".

Radio presenter Tony Blackburn told Times Radio: "It's very sad news... he was a very, very lovely man and very gentle.

"He was a very light comedian, very gentlemanly. His Des O'Connor shows were great. He was very good at interviewing and also of course he didn't mind taking the mickey out of himself like on the Morecambe and Wise Show. They were always taking the mickey out of his singing, which wasn't bad.

"He was just a nice person to be around and a real professional".

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