DES O'Connor is witty, charming and more in demand than ever as he nears his 85th birthday.

He laughs a lot, has showbiz tales aplenty, is brimming with enthusiasm and has me chuckling along to a selection of his limericks.

His favourite is a take on the TV programme Who Do You Think You Are?

“I did some genealogy, but I think I got it wrong, because according to me, I’m 103, and my grandma’s alive in Hong Kong!" he recites before bursting into a fit of giggles.

A foray into poetry is the latest string to a varied showbiz bow which has seen him clock up over 45 years starring in his own mainstream TV show - longer than anyone anywhere in the world - and record 36 albums.

"I couldn't believe it was a success," he laughs, remembering the way Laughter Lines, his first collection of comic verse, shot to the top of the poetry best-sellers list at Christmas 2014.

"Adam (his 11-year-old son) came home from school one day with a poem about a glow worm and it made me laugh so much, I thought I’d give it a try.

"'I wish I were a glow-worm, I never could be glum, how could I be miserable when the sun shines out of my bum!'

"It's all good fun. People worry too much about things that will never happen."

A second book of verse is in the making and Des is considering an offer to write a second volume of his much-loved autobiography Bananas Can't Fly.

"I wrote that when I was 71 or 72 and in the last 11 or 12 years, quite a lot has happened. I've got married (to his fourth wife, talented singer Jodie Brooke Wilson, who is 37 years his junior) and had a son. I've never had a son before, I've got four daughters.

"I was given a CBE by The Queen and was in a musical for the first time (The Wizard of Oz). Given the time, I'd like to start writing again. I'll probably call it As I Was Saying. That will keep me out of mischief!"

Des describes tabloid reports that he'd like to have more children as 'ludicrous', but he is a doting father to young Adam - even when it comes to the school sports day.

"I went along and the headmistress says, 'Oh, Mr O’Connor, how lovely to see you, and how sporting of you to volunteer!’

"I’m thinking, 'Volunteer? What on earth did I volunteer for?’ Turns out, I’ve been volunteered for the fathers’ race. At this point, I had to ask if they had any grandfathers’ races, because I think that might be more my thing!

"But I get on with it. And do you know who was on the starting line? I am genuinely not joking now, it was Linford Christie! They made him carry a bucket of water, but he still won by half a county!"

Des has always played sport, playing semi professional football for Northampton when he was evacuated there from his East End London home during World War II and even played a celebrity match at The Dell.

"That was a lovely little ground," he says. "You were so close to the crowd. I scored a good goal that day. Sean Connery was the centre forward and his language. Well!"

That wasn't his only visit to Southampton. He was a regular Mayflower visitor during its previous incarnation as The Gaumont.

"I fell off the stage there once!" he chuckles. I was quite sober I hasten to add! I can't even remember what happened, but I ended up gazing up. I haven't fallen off stage since though."

Des is talking to me ahead of his latest appearance at Mayflower Theatre next weekend. Last year, he starred in Sunday Night at The London Palladium with Des O’Connor & Jimmy Tarbuck. The two legends of The Royal Variety Performance and The London Palladium appeared live on stage to raise funds for the Royal Variety Charity. Following the show's success,Des and Jimmy will be appearing together again in a mini tour of major venues.

"I've known Jimmy for I wouldn't like to say how long and between the two of us, we've been on stage for nearly 140 years!

"We've got lots of things to talk about. I talk about having worked with Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra and about the talk show. I had Barbara Streisand, Tony Blair, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lionel Richie all on in one afternoon. And Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't want to meet in the corridor as they'd had an argument about Planet Hollywood!

"There will be a couple of surprises as well. I like to find out who lives locally and drag them along!

"It isn't rehearsed. We just build up a rapport with the audience and instinctively know if they want more music, more singing or what. Whatever happens, happens. That's why I choose an orchestra of four or five guys I've worked with before so we can busk into something and hopefully we will finish together!

"We try to create a mood of laughter and good clean fun. Bring Granny, bring the vicar if you like. We'll have lots of laughs."

With a career spanning more than 50 years, does he still have any burning unfulfilled ambitions?

"I've done most things. I was even a clown in the circus for one day! I've done repertory and I played to 25,000 people in Canada.

"The only thing I've never done or been asked to do in any shape or form is a film. My daughter says I'm always smiling and that I should play an evil swine!"

Retirement doesn't seem to be on the cards either.

"When you reach my age - nearly 50! - you can't help but think about it. But I'll only give up when the theatres aren't full and the records don't sell.

"That's such a shame when people are giving their best. But at the moment I feel like I play to a room full of friends.

"I'm very fortunate. Don't tell anybody, but I'd do it for nothing! I absolutely love it."

Des O'Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck Live on Stage is at Mayflower Theatre on Sunday April 10.

Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or