Melanie Sykes has led tributes to the late Des O'Connor, admitting he had "talent in every fibre of his being".
The 50-year-old TV presenter co-hosted 'Today with Des and Mel' alongside the small screen legend - who passed away on Saturday (14.11.20) aged 88 - from 2002 to 2006, and she has admitted it was "an education and a privilege" to work alongside the star.
Mel wrote on Instagram: "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.
"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 robber's dog!
"These years I will never forget and nor will I forget him.
"Darling Des you will be forever missed. Melanie x. (sic)"
Several other stars of the small screen and beyond took to social media to recognise Des' talents.
TV presenter Eamonn Holmes tweeted: "He was that rare combination of being a Star and a really nice man. Rest in Peace Des."
'Good Morning Britain' co-host Piers Morgan wrote: "RIP Des O’Connor, 88. A wondrously talented, warm, funny, charming man. Truly one of the nicest people in showbiz.
"What very sad news. Thanks for all the fun, Des. (sic)"
Carol Vorderman - who worked alongside Des on 'Countdown' - posted: "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...1/2
"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 (sic)"
Comedian Jason Manford wrote: "So gutted to hear about Des O’Connor. Another cracking English entertainer gone. So many lovely memories of watching him with my grandparents & parents. Absolute legend. I’ll be watching some of his Morecambe & Wise sketches today (sic)"
Singer and actress Elaine Page posted: "So upset to hear the breaking news that Des O’Connor has died. A true gentleman & all round entertainer! I first met in the early 80’s on his TV show & last saw him in August last year. The lights will dim in Showbizland tonight. RIP dear man. Sending hugs to Jodie & his family. (sic)"
Des' agent confirmed his death yesterday (15.11.20), saying in a statement: "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. He was recovering well and had been in great spirits, visited by his family - in accordance with hospital lockdown regulations - and looking forward to going home.
"Unfortunately yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep."
The chat show host landed his own programme, 'The Des O'Connor Show', in 1963, and the show ran for 10 years.
He later fronted 'Take Your Pick' from 1992 to 1999, and took the reins on 'Countdown' from 2007 to 2008.
As well as fronting TV shows, Des was also a singer and had four top 10 UK singles - including number one 'I Pretend' - and he recorded 36 albums.