Tom O’Connor, Legendary Comedian and TV Host, Dead at 81

by Clayton Edwards

British Comedian and TV host Tom O’Connor passed away on Sunday, July 18th. His family confirmed that he died in a Buckinghamshire hospital last night. O’Connor was 81 and had been fighting Parkinson’s disease for over a decade.

Fans of British television know Tom O’Connor for his many television hosting gigs. He hosted game shows such as Crosswits and Name That Tune. However, he was also an actor. His stage debut came in 1991 with the role of Pike in The Perils of the Pond. But, fans of his acting knew him best for his TV appearances. He was in Zig & Zag: Entertainment Cops, a made-for-TV movie back in 1994. His most recent acting gig was a recurring role on the British series Doctors. He played Father Tom in 28 episodes of the show from 2000 to 2004.

Tom O’Connor’s son, Steve, spoke out after his father’s passing. He remembered his father, professionally, as, “a unique comedian who was light years ahead of political correctness.” He went on to say that his father always kept his comedy clean so that the whole family could share in the laughter, according to a report from Popculture.

Tom O’Connor honed his performance skills as a singer in the working-class clubs of Bootle, Merseyside. Later, he added comedy to his act and found his niche. However, the cleanliness of his comedy probably stemmed from his day job. O’Connor was a math and music teacher at a school in Bootle.  

His big break came in the early seventies. Tom O’Connor hosted shows like The Zodiac Game and Pick Pockets. His presence on those game shows made him a household name in the United Kingdom at the time.

Tom O’Connor is survived by his wife, four children, sixteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

 More About Tom O’Connor

Many people know him as the host of quiz shows today. However, Tom O’Connor was on the other side of the show when he started. Much like Ken Jennings, he rose to prominence through game show wins. O’Connor won Opportunity Knocks three times, according to a BBC report.

In a video on his website, Tom O’Connor summed up his feelings about his career. About that, he said, “When I grew up as a kid in wartime Merseyside, I never dreamed I’d have a career that started as a schoolteacher, went to folk singer, then country and western singer, stand-up talker, and TV presenter. I’ve been lucky.”

So, it seems that Tom O’Connor never took his success for granted. He grew up in some of the most harrowing years of England’s history. As a result, O’Connor learned how to overcome adversity in his youth. Then, went on to have a resume that included some of the biggest game shows on British television.

His fans, friends, and family will keep his spirit alive through the years. Tom O’Connor is gone but far from forgotten.