Lynam at a book signing
17 September 1942 |
Ennis, County Clare, Ireland
|Spouse(s)||Susan Skinner (m. 1965–1974) (divorced)|
|Children||Patrick (b. 1970)|
Desmond Michael "Des" Lynam, OBE (born 17 September 1942, Ennis, County Clare, Ireland) is an Irish-born British television and radio presenter based in the UK. In a broadcasting career spanning more than 40 years, he has hosted television coverage of many of the world's major sporting events, presenting Grandstand, Match of the Day, Wimbledon, The Grand National, Sportsnight, the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games, as well as presenting other non-sporting programmes such as Holiday, How Do They Do That? and Countdown. He has also presented programmes on BBC Radio.
Desmond Michael Lynam moved with his family to Brighton at the age of six. He recalled having a strong Irish accent at the time, but eventually lost it. He passed the eleven-plus in 1954, to attend Varndean Grammar School. After sitting his A-levels, he went into the insurance business, working as a salesman, where he remained for most of the 1960s.
Lynam started his career in broadcasting as a freelance radio journalist, on BBC Radio Brighton (1968–1969). He quickly joined national BBC radio in London, originally specialising in commentating on boxing, and went on to anchor Sport on Two and Sports Report (1969–1978) on BBC Radio 2. From 1974–1976 he co-presented the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on three mornings each week.
Lynam moved to television in 1977 starting off with Sportswide as part of Nationwide continuing until the series ended in 1983, and then presented Grandstand (1979–1991, occasionally until 1999), Sportsnight (1991–1997) and Match of the Day (1988–1999) on the BBC for many years, and also fronted BBC coverage of Wimbledon (highlights 1985–1990, main presenter 1991–1997 and 1999), The Grand National (1985–1999), the Football World Cup (1982–1998) and the Olympic Games (1980–1996).
Lynam made a return to radio on 19 July 1986 to commentate for the BBC on the Frank Bruno vs. Tim Witherspoon WBA Heavyweight World Title fight at Wembley Stadium. In 1988 and 1989, Lynam presented the BBC series Holiday.
Between 1988 and the end of the 1991–1992 season, the BBC had lost the rights for top flight league matches to ITV, although the BBC retained rights for the FA Cup. Lynam presented Match of the Day on FA Cup weekends for four years until the end of the 1991–1992 season. In August 1992, at the start of the new formation of the Premier League, the BBC regained highlights of top flight league matches. Lynam presented Match of the Day highlights of Premier League matches on the BBC until 1999.
Throughout his time on the BBC, Lynam was praised for his witty and down-to-earth style. An example of this was after the 1998 World Cup Final he narrated the famous Rudyard Kipling poem "If—" on the BBC's ending credits.
Lynam moved from the BBC to ITV in August 1999, to present ITV's live football coverage, including coverage of the midweek UEFA Champions League. Lynam said at the time: "Leaving the BBC after 30 years was not an easy decision to make, but it was time for a new challenge – and it's no secret that live football is what I love best." A month earlier Lynam had complained in a newspaper interview about BBC1's late scheduling on a Saturday evening of Match of the Day, which had sometimes been shown with a late start time of 10.50pm. Lynam said: "The moment you put it past 10.30 I start fuming."
ITV later gained a deal to air Premier League highlights. In 2001, Lynam presented The Premiership, which was first aired on ITV at 7pm on 18 August 2001. After disappointing viewing figures in the first couple of months for The Premiership on ITV, a decision was made to shift the programme from its original 7pm slot to a permanent later time of 10:30pm, from 17 November 2001. The programme ran until May 2004.
Lynam continued to present football coverage for ITV until 2004. He decided to retire from presenting live sport after the Euro 2004 football championships. Soon afterwards the BBC announced that Lynam would present a new weekly radio programme, Des Meets..., on BBC Radio Five Live from August 2004.
In May 2005, Lynam presented the BBC1 programme 'We'll Meet Again', marking the 60th anniversary of VE Day and which celebrated the end of the second World War. The following month, he presented an episode of Have I Got News For You on BBC1, the third time he had presented the show, having twice hosted the show the previous year.
In June and July 2005, Lynam co-presented (with Sir David Frost) the series The World's Greatest Sporting Legend on Sky One. In the summer of 2005, Lynam also covered Wimbledon for BBC Radio Five Live.
In October 2005, Lynam published his autobiography I Should Have Been at Work. The title of the book is a reference to when Lynam said "Good afternoon. Shouldn't you be at work?" when introducing coverage of an England match at 2pm on a Monday afternoon during the 1998 Football World Cup finals.
In 2005, Lynam admitted that he regretted his decision to move to ITV from the BBC in 1999. Lynam said: "If it was a decision I had to make now I probably wouldn't do it. I went from being a great broadcaster, or at least a very acceptably good one, to being a somewhat inadequate one overnight".
In 2005, Lynam replaced Richard Whiteley as the host of Channel 4's Countdown, with his first episode airing on 31 October 2005. Although his contract was to last until December 2007, Lynam left Countdown after less than 18 months at the end of 2006, because he regularly needed to travel to Leeds where Countdown was recorded, while his home is in West Sussex, about 250 miles away. He was replaced by Des O'Connor.
In December 2012, Lynam contributed to a short series of programmes broadcast on BBC Radio 4 about unusual sports such as real tennis.
He married Susan Skinner in 1965 and had one son, Patrick (born 1970); however by 1973 the marriage began to break down owing to Lynam's career commitments, and they divorced in 1974. Lynam has never remarried, but he has lived with Rose Diamond, his long-time partner, for many years.
- "New Year Honours List 2008". Honours.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
- "Des Lynam Biography". Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Debretts: Desmond Lynam, Esq, OBE".
- Millward, David (15 Jun 2000). "It's all over for Match of the Day". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Kipling captures World Cup spirit". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Smoothie Des joins Radio 2".
- "Des Lynam moves to ITV". The Guardian. 2 August 1999. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "ITV Premiership ratings plunge". BBC News. 27 August 2001. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- Boshoff, Alison (23 October 2001). "ITV relegates The Premiership". Mail Online. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "Des Lynam makes BBC radio return". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Des Lynam, David Frost join Sky One". Digital Spy. 9 March 2005. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "Profile: Des Lynam". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Des Lynam regrets move to ITV". Digital Spy. 26 November 2005. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "Countdown's Des quits show". The Sun. 30 September 2006.
- "O'Connor to be new Countdown host". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Hillsborough remembered - Des Lynam". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- Viner, Brian. "The Brian Viner Interview: Des Lynam". The Independent.
- "Des Lynam endorses UKIP and rewrites Send in the Clowns". BBC News. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
|Regular Host of Grandstand
|Regular Host of Match of the Day
|Regular Host of Sportsnight
|Host of Countdown
|Awards and achievements|
|RTS Television Sport Awards
Best Sports Presenter