HE’S a light entertainment institution and has been an ITV mainstay for decades. Des O’Connor is one of only a handful of British entertainers to be acclaimed internationally on stage and television.

Since landing his first television series in the UK in 1963, he has starred in his own mainstream television show for over 45 years – longer than anyone in the world.

Tonight at Lighthouse Poole, Des will be joined by another light entertainment legend to share a host of memories in the Des O’Connor & Jimmy Tarbuck Show.

Accompanied by music and video, the two showbiz grandees will reminisce about their careers, sharing a wealth of anecdotes from their life and times in the spotlight, including countless television shows. I got a chance to have a chat with the 87-year-old star to find out more....

You could be forgiven for putting your feet up by now! What drives you to keep performing?

“It’s true I’m not a kid any more,” he laughs. “But I still really, really enjoy it. Jimmy and I just chip away at each other and have a bit of fun together. I never know what he’s going to say. He knows he can embarrass me. We just get up there and have giggle.

“I’m also hoping my son Adam who is 14 will join me on stage. He is a star in the making. He plays five different instruments. He doesn’t know it yet though, but if he’s back in time I might just throw him in the deep end!”

How much preparation goes into a show like this?

“We never know how it’s going to go, so you can expect the unexpected! It’s improvisation mainly. I’ve known Jimmy forever. We’ve done stuff on the telly together many times, but this is the first time we’ve been on stage together.

“Anything can happen. I go on wondering what’s going to happen. I couldn’t stand it if we had to go on and say the same thing night after night, that would drive me insane.

“And a stage show is more fun because you don’t have to keep watching the clock and you can say what you want within reason. We are cheeky but nothing too naughty. You could bring the vicar along if you want to!”

You always look so relaxed on television – do you ever get nervous before a big show?

“I used to be very nervous when I first started out, but these days I look forward to it. The punters have to pay, but we get to enjoy ourselves for nothing!”

You’ve performed at nearly all the main venues across the region. Do you have any anecdotes from previous visits to the area?

“Yes I think I have performed at most of the venues now as I’ve been at it some time if you’ll pardon the expression! But I’ve loved every minute of it.

“I remember falling off the stage at the Mayflower – I can’t remember how it happened. It got a laugh but it wasn’t part of the act!”

Can you give us a taste of some of the anecdotes you will be sharing?

“There are some stories people expect to hear about like my time with Morecambe and Wise. They made me really.

“I also enjoyed working with Mel [Sykes on Today with Des & Mel] Mel was a naughty girl! She had a great sense of humour. Nobody believed we didn’t have a script. I remember her saying to me the first time – what are we going to be talking about for two hours? I said, just smile at the camera and enjoy yourself.”

So what do you think is the secret to your longevity?

“I think people know when you’re genuine so it’s important to be yourself. It’s great to know you’ve got a crowd out there who have come to see me and Jimmy.

“But the most important thing of all is to send people home with a smile on their faces. And I can guarantee that people will have a laugh tonight.”

* Des O’Connor & Jimmy Tarbuck Live at Lighthouse Poole, 7.30pm tonight.