DES AND TARBY AT THE DOUBLE
Veteran performers on the patch
Des O’Connor is an instant tonic. Whether it’s his irrepressible sense of humour, his quick-witted oneliners or his quirky rhymes, he has a charming sense of fun.
The audience at his forthcoming Norfolk show can look forward to double the laughs and twice the entertainment - as Des is sharing the stage with another showbiz giant, Jimmy Tarbuck. Their performance at Norwich Theatre Royal on June 20 is part of a UK tour prompted by the popularity of a one-off show ‘Sunday Night at The London Palladium with Des O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck’ in October 2015. It was such a hit with the audience and critics that the pair realised they had strong onstage chemistry.
“It just works,” Des explains. “We only started this out as a one-nighter for the Royal Variety Charity. It was jam-packed full - fantastic audience, absolutely wonderful. And so after that we did another six, and we’re currently in the middle of another 12!”
Des is no stranger to East Anglia. He has performed in Suffolk, including at Ipswich and Lowestoft, and knows Norfolk well too.
“As a matter of fact, the very firstever one-man-show that I did was at the Theatre Royal, Norwich,” he says. “It was great. I’ve done them all around the world since then, so Norwich has one little, special part of my heart, you know.
“I know that part of the country very well anyway because I got an amateur jockey’s licence, but I never actually rode because they banned me - I was at The Palladium at the time and that was
deemed to be a dangerous sport. But I used to get up every morning, sometimes between 5am and 6am, drive to Newmarket and then sometimes on to Norwich.
“And, of course, I’ve played Great Yarmouth enough times. I love that part of the world.”
He adds, in a pitch-perfect local accent: “They know how to laugh boi, I’ll tell you that!”
At the Norwich show, Des’s affable anecdotes and singing prowess will be matched with Jimmy’s charming banter and gag-a-minute routines. The pair will share stories and memories in the show which will be mixed with music and video.
Des says: “I really am not absolutely certain what we’ll do, because he’s a bit naughty with me. He’s a wonderful little performer, gets lots of laughs. He’s a very funny guy and he knows how to make an audience laugh, but he does wind me up a little bit - and I don’t mind it because I’m used to it.
“He’s never rude, he’s never crude, he’s never crass, but he’s inclined to be a bit cheekier with his stuff.
“The first part of the show is mainly Jimmy - it’s me but it’s mainly Jimmy -and then I do the second part of the show. And then we get together at the end as well.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything – something for everybody there, I think. We’re both hams! We love to hear the sound of laughter and Jimmy will provide that. I certainly will as well.
“I really do look forward to it – and I know he does.”
Since landing his first television series in the UK in 1963, Des starred in his own mainstream television show for more than 45 years - longer than anyone anywhere in the world.
He is one of only a handful of British entertainers to be acclaimed internationally on stage and television. His American series was shown in more than 40 countries and seen by 200 million people world-wide.
On stage he has appeared at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, The
They know how to laugh boi, I’ll tell you that!
Sydney Opera House, The O’Keefe Centre, Toronto and more than 1,200 solo performances at the London Palladium.
“In my study now I’ve got a lot of gold plaques which were given to me at the Palladium,” he says.
“If you did a week then and it did well they would give you a little plaque and I’ve got one to note ‘his 1,000th performance’ and they gave me this in 1972!”
Now 85, but still with a boundless enthusiasm for showbusiness, Des remains busy. As well as his shows with Jimmy, he is also touring alone in his new show, The Ultimate Des O’Connor, this year.
“That’s the nice thing about showbusiness - you never, ever get to do it all,” he says. “There’s always something you can improve on, somebody you can learn from... It’s a lovely job. It’s better than working!”
Des still clearly loves entertaining people and will continue to do so, as long as they want him to.
He says: “When I figure they’re not going to buy records, they don’t like me singing, they don’t like the jokes – whenever that happens I’ll just get on my bike, pedal over the hill and say ‘Cheerio, it’s been nice knowing you’.”
Somehow, showbiz would lose some of its sparkle without Des, so we can only hope that day is not for a long while yet.
Des O’Connor at the Norwich Theatre Royal
Des O’Connor shares his showbiz memories of East Anglia.
Jimmy Tarbuck pictured in Ipswich in May 1966.
Jimmy Tarbuck photographed at the Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe in the summer of 1983.
Des O’Connor has a long association with the Norwich Theatre Royal..
Des O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck are coming to Norwich.
Des O’Connor meeting fans at Felixstowe, in July 1982.