MELANIE Sykes has paid tribute to her "darling" friend Des O'Connor.
She said the 88-year-old entertainer – who died in his sleep last night – had the "kindest of hearts" and will be "forever missed".
Melanie – who hosted chat show Today With Des and Mel alongside the legendary star – shared a photograph of the pair smiling together.
She wrote on Instagram: "Des had the softest hands of anyone I ever met and the kindest of hearts.
"He had talent in every fibre of his being and was stubborn as a mule.
"He was the full ticket as a friend and colleague.
"When he chose me to be his co host on the ‘Today’ daytime show it was one the greatest days of my professional life.
"It was an education and a privilege to work with him for the years that followed.
"We worked long hours but always laughed lots, not least because when it it was showtime he would always tell me I looked like robbers dog!
" These years I will never forget and nor will I forget him.
"Darling Des you will be forever missed. Melanie x."
The veteran entertainer enjoyed six decades in the world of entertainment, and made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic.
Des was best known in the UK as a chat show host and as presenter of Channel 4's 'Countdown'.
His longtime agent and family friend Pat Lake-Smith said the presenter had passed away on Saturday, days after a fall at his Buckinghamshire home.
She said in a statement: "He had been admitted to hospital just over a week ago, following a fall at his home in Buckinghamshire. He was recovering well and had been in great spirits, visited by his family – in accordance with hospital lockdown regulations – and looking forward to going home.
"Unfortunately yesterday evening his condition suddenly deteriorated and he drifted peacefully away in his sleep.
"Des, who was 88, was so well loved by absolutely everyone. He was a joy to work with – he was talented, fun, positive, enthusiastic, kind and a total professional.
"He loved life, and considered enthusiasm almost as important as oxygen. He adored his family – they were everything to him."
He is survived by his wife Jodie, their son Adam and his four daughters, Karin, TJ, Samantha and Kristina.
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