Tom O’Connor, the comedian, game show host and actor, has died aged 81, his family has said.
O’Connor, a “unique comedian who was light years ahead of political correctness” died on Sunday morning in Buckinghamshire, his family confirmed via his agent.
His brand of humour, his family said in a statement, “was 100% clean and always totally family friendly”.
O’Connor’s daughter-in-law, Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, said that, having watched him all those years as a child with her mum on a Saturday night, she was “so overwhelmed” at how sweet, genuine and kind he was.
“It was exactly the person we saw on TV day and night,” she said.
O’Connor, who was born in Bootle, Merseyside, started out as a teacher, before launching a comedy career in working men’s clubs.
He first came to public attention as the only comedian to win Opportunity Knocks three times running.
The entertainer became a regular on The Comedians show and established himself as a household name through the 1970s and ’80s including in Pick Pockets and The Zodiac Game.
He presented Name That Tune between 1976 and 1983, Crosswits and the Tom O’Connor Roadshow for the BBC.
Later, he turned his hand to straight acting, taking on the role of Father Tom, a Catholic priest, in the BBC daytime soap Doctors in the early 2000s.
No stranger to the stage, he performed many times at the Royal Performances at The London Palladium.
He appeared in the celebrity edition of Come Dine With Me in 2010 and the following year joined Lewis on the Pointless Celebrities quiz show.
Liverpool City Council paid tribute to O’Connor in a tweet, saying: “Thanks for the laughs, Tom.”
TV presenter Piers Morgan called him a “Liverpool legend & a very funny man”.
BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker tweeted that O’Connor was “kind, funny and a true gent”.
He leaves behind his wife Pat, four children, 16 grandchildren and one great granddaughter.
O’Connor fought a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and his family thanked “everybody that has cared for Tom through his Parkinson’s diagnosis and treatment and of course his final days in hospital”.