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RIP Tom O'Connor - game show host and comedian

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  • RIP Tom O'Connor - game show host and comedian

    Tom O'Connor, the game show host and comedian has died from compilations of Parkinson's Disease at the age of 81.

    O'Connor was a former school teacher of Mathematics from Bootle, Merseyside who was mostly famous for light entertainment shows such as Wednesday at Eight for Thames which also contained the Name That Tune segment that he also presented. His other game shows involved The Zodiac Game for Anglia (in which he obviously got to work with Russell Grant), and also the Pontoon-themed show Gambit for the same company, taking over from Fred Dinenage. He was seen as the Mr Clean of light entertainment, never telling jokes which were "out of bounds" to a family audience but he appealed to anyone from 5 to 105.

    Turning professional courtesy of Opportunity Knocks, O'Connor was doing stand up comedy on television as early as 1976 when he was aged just 36 - on The Comedians, he broadly performed amongst other comics such as Bernard Manning, Jim Bowen and Frank Carson, even though his humour wasn't politically incorrect enough to match those of Manning or Bowen. Even as early as 1970 he was credited for the Granada school drama Roll On Four O'clock, repeated as part of the Granadaland evening on BBC Two in December 1992.

    In the 1980s and 1990s he became the host of Crosswits, taking over from original host Barry Cryer. The crossword-themed game show for Tyne Tees shown at 9.25 am (repeated after Calendar in Yorkshire on weekday evenings) on spring weekday mornings until moving to afternoons in 1995 where different ITV regions put it anywhere between 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm. Crosswits was a show where one was greeted by a crossword puzzle patterned TV studio. Here, a member of the public was paired with a celebrity of the opposite gender in order there for the week of five editions to win prizes such as a cordless telephone or a week in a health spa, trying to answer clues to crosswords seen in daily newspapers, finding key words and all that.

    As host of Crosswits, O'Connor sported colourful sweaters while greeting an audience of mostly pensioners. Here, he signed off at the end with catchphrases such as: "never a cross word, just for me, alright?" and: "if there is a crossword in your house, make sure it is written and not spoken". In 1998 I wrote to Tyne Tees asking for a signed photograph of the man himself, and they had sent me an application form for Crosswits itself! I sent it back and then I got a picture of the man himself a week later.

    Also for Tyne Tees, in around 1988 he did a pilot of a snooker-based game show called Pick Pockets which never seemed to be transmitted, not even in the Tyne Tees region itself - it was rumoured that some of the production staff behind the programme were also responsible for the snooker quiz Big Break debuting on the BBC a few years later. I believe that it was supposed to do for snooker what Bullseye did for darts and was supposed to premier in an identical Sunday teatime slot.

    In later years he guested on various TV shows - I saw him as a guest on RTE's Late, Late Show in around 1995 when Channel 4 briefly showed some episodes of the Irish chat show. He came across to me as a true gentleman when on television with no ounce of bitterness or bad temper, and did not have to use bad language to get any laughter - he earned it that way, unlike the most recent breed of TV hosts. I also think that he was like an ordinary person who would talk to ordinary people and was not seen as a showbiz stereotype that a lot of performers and game show hosts had become in the 1970s and 1980s.

    O'Connor also got a honorable mention in the "name a famous Irishman" round during an infamous "Turkey" Johnson family Max Bygraves episode of Family Fortunes, just like his namesake Des - we lost Des O'Connor last year and now Tom O'Connor (despite not being related to each other) has also gone.

    A very popular and respectful person - never a crossword said about him, ever.
    Last edited by George 1978; 2 weeks ago.
    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

  • #2
    When Des O'Connor got his obituary thread on here last year, it got so many replies, so I am wondering why his namesake Tom hasn't got as much response - perhaps he was far too ordinary as an entertainer? I know that comedians that do "decent" material these days are seen as being out of date and old fashioned - if you are nice then no one will find you funny, it seems.

    If he had been a blue comedian like Bernard Manning was, perhaps he would have been more interesting? Just an observation.

    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

    Comment


    • #3
      Great post george always got mixed up with des and tom o connor.
      R i p tom
      a sad loss.

      FOR THE HONOUR OF GRAYSKULL

      Comment


      • #4
        Not to mention Andrew O'Connor as well...
        I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
        There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
        I'm having so much fun
        My lucky number's one
        Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

        Comment

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