Des O’Connor spent years being teased mercilessly about his singing by comedy duo Morecambe & Wise but he later admitted he was in on the jokes and actually wrote many of them himself.
The telly presenter, who died on Saturday aged 88, was also a keen vocalist and released 36 albums over the course of his career.
He was famously ribbed over his singing skills by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, who regularly included jokes about his performances on The Morecambe and Wise Show.
Their jibes included “Des has just done a one-man show. Let’s hope two turn up next time” among others.
Another started with Ernie declaring: “I’ve got some great news,” and Eric would reply: “What? Has Des O’Connor got a sore throat?”
However, Des took it all in good spirits and later admitted he not only played along, he also helped write the gags for them.
Speaking to Weekend magazine, he explained: “I remember when the police in Nottingham found a car – this is a fact not a joke – upside down in the River Trent and they said my CD was still playing in it.
“So I’d write something stupid like that, send it to the boys, and more often than not, it would end up on the show.”
He went on to reveal he was actually very good friends with Eric and Ernie.
Des added: “You can laugh at life or let it bug you. Eric, Ernie and I were actually very, very close.
“I think a lot of people actually believed I was as bad at singing as Eric said, but his wife Joan told me that she went into his study one evening… and he was listening to one of my records.”
Back in 2014, Des revealed the sparring between him and Eric, who died in 1984, continued even throughout the bleakest of times.
He told the Daily Mail: “When Eric had his first heart attack in 1968, I was doing a show in front of 2,000.
“I went for a sip of water and the stage manager said, ‘Eric Morecambe’s had a heart attack. He’s dying’.
“I went back on and, at the end of the show, I said, ‘If you believe in such things, please remember Eric in your prayers. He’s not well.’
“Happily he recovered and six weeks later he was in a meeting with some journalists.
“One of them said, ‘Are you aware Des O’Connor asked his entire audience to pray for you?’ Eric said, ‘Well, those six or seven people probably made a difference’.”
Des later joked of the comedy war: “It became like a national campaign. There were 36 newspaper cartoons about it. ‘The Iraqis are retreating! Send more of Des’s records!'”
Eric died in 1984 after suffering a heart attack minutes after stepping off stage at a comedy show. Ernie died in 1999 from heart failure.
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