There’s an old saying which goes, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I suppose it’s too general because who, for example, would want to say something nice about, say, Hitler, Stalin or Boris Johnson? So, on that basis, I won’t say anything not nice about Des O’Connor, the entertainer who has died at the age of 88.

But then, how could you say anything not nice about O’Connor? He made a highly successful career by being himself, a really nice bloke who was entirely relaxed on stage or on television and dealt only in shades of light.

A modestly talented comedian and singer, O’Connor made the best of what he had. TV executives realised that here was a man who could talk to people on telly, get them to talk and then make people laugh. It really was as simple as that. You didn’t watch O’Connor in order to watch a heated political debate. You watched because, whatever was going on in the world, you would feel better at the end of the show than you did at the start.

I first became aware of Des O’Connor in the 1960s, when he has a succession of hit records with songs that were completely out of kilter with the explosion of this newfangled ‘Pop’ Music.

‘Dick-A-Dum-Dum’ was a particularly horrific ear worm which still haunts me today, as did ‘1–2–3 O’Leary’. He even had a number one hit, something I never realised until this morning; a song called ‘I Pretend’. Best of all, O’Connor sang ‘Careless Hands’, a song adopted by the Kop at Anfield when Leeds United’s accident-prone goalkeeper Gary Sprake literally threw the ball into his own net. By the 1970s, O’Connor’s musical career, at least in terms of hit records, fizzled out, although I read that in 1988 his cover version of the TV show theme to Neighbours peaked at 100 in the charts.

Today, anyone can be a TV presenter and it doesn’t seem to matter if you are a good one. But Des O’Connor was a good presenter, learning and honing his skills in an old school show business way. He just wanted to make people smile and did it better than almost anyone else.