Tom O’Connor has become a household name through the realms of television, hosting his own shows - “Tom O’Connor”, “Wednesday At Eight”, “Night Out At the Casino”, “London Night Out”, “The Tom O’Connor Show” and “The Tom O’Connor Roadshow”. He has emerged as one of the most popular entertainers in the country and one of Britain’s funniest comedians.
Not only that, Tom has carved out a fine reputation for himself as a most accomplished quiz and game show host with no less than seven successful series to his credit - “Name That Tune”, “Gambit”, “Zodiac”, “Password”, “I’ve Got A Secret”, “Cross Wits” and “A Question of Entertainment”.
Tom was born in Bootle in 1939. His father was a docker and it was in Liverpool that Tom later became a schoolmaster. Whilst working as a maths teacher and assistant headmaster at the St. Joan of Arc School in Bootle, he developed his unique comedy routines.
In actual fact, the school’s headmaster had a lot to do with the progress of Tom’s career in comedy. When his pupils showed very little interest in the academic side of mathematics, the headmaster told him “Never mind the algebra and logarithms - just remember you are saving souls”.
It had a great effect, for Tom found a distinctive way of teaching his subject and communicating with his charges. “The only way I could think of getting through to them was to encourage them to tell jokes” says Tom. “It worked a treat ...... and that’s really how the comedy all started. I actually started my showbusiness career as a singer and would have been quite happy doing that but I soon found out that comedians got paid more money than singers, so I gradually introduced the comedy into my act and concentrated on talking to the audience about people, and observing life. Real life can be very funny. It really took off from there”.
For several years Tom O’Connor lived a double life - teaching his pupils by day and entertaining club audiences at night. As his reputation spread throughout showbusiness, it soon became obvious that he had to make a decision about his future career.
“I was working very late at night, sometimes getting home at three or four in the morning”, says Tom. “I had to be up at seven to go to school. So I had to decide whether to give up teaching and concentrate on a full-time showbusiness career ..... or forget the entertainment industry in favour of school. Actually, it wasn’t much of a gamble to take, for when I had twelve months work in my engagement book, I took the plunge”.
In 1974, Tom hung up his cap and gown for good to become a professional entertainer. He hasn’t looked back since.
Success rapidly followed success. He made such an impact on television - winning three separate shows on “Opportunity Knocks” - that within a year of his TV debut, he was hosting the Thames series “Wednesday At Eight”, followed by his own series, “The Tom O’Connor Show”. A year later, he received the highest accolade in the theatrical profession, when he was invited to appear in the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium. In 1977, Tom was the subject of Thames Television’s “This is Your Life”.
Tom’s success, however, has not only been confined to television. In cabaret, he starred at every major night-spot in the country and headlined his own successful summer season shows in the country’s top resorts. His work has taken him to most English speaking countries including America, where he featured at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in Manhattan.
Tom is in constant demand for corporate functions both in this country and abroad and, as a result of his two best selling humorous golf books “From the Wood to the Trees” and “One Flew over the Clubhouse”, he receives countless invitations to appear as guest celebrity speaker at golf society functions. Tom has also published his autobiography “Take A Funny Turn”.
He lives in Berkshire with his wife, Pat. They have four children, Ann, Stephen, Frances and Helen.