Dermot O'Leary

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Dermot O'Leary
Dermot Oleary by Walterlan Papetti.jpg
O'Leary in 2014
Sean Dermot Fintan O'Leary Jr.

(1973-05-24) 24 May 1973 (age 46)
NationalityBritish, Irish
Years active1998–present
Dee Koppang (m. 2012)

Sean Dermot Fintan O'Leary Jr. (born 24 May 1973), better known as Dermot O'Leary, is a British-Irish television presenter for ITV and a radio presenter for BBC Radio 2.

O'Leary's radio career began when he worked as a disc jockey at Essex Radio, but he is best known for being the presenter of The X Factor on ITV, a position he has held every year since 2007 with the exception of 2015, when he stepped down to pursue other ventures. He was then briefly replaced by Olly Murs and Caroline Flack.[1]

Early life[edit]

O'Leary was born in Colchester, North Essex, England to parents Seán and Maria, who had moved to the United Kingdom from Ireland. He is "extremely proud" of his Irish roots and holds dual British and Irish citizenship.[2] O'Leary attended primary school in Marks Tey and later St Benedict's Catholic College in Colchester. He admits that his relaxed attitude at school caused him to fail all but two of his GCSEs.[3] Following that, O'Leary re-took his school leaving qualifications, allowing him to later start his A Level courses at Colchester Sixth Form College. He eventually studied for a degree in Media Studies with Politics at Middlesex University.[4][5]

Growing up, O'Leary was a member of The Boys' Brigade Christian youth organisation.[6]


Early career[edit]

O'Leary started as a disc jockey at BBC Essex,[7] based in Southend-on-Sea, before becoming a runner on the TV show Light Lunch with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and then a presenter at Channel 4 as part of the original presenting line-up of the channel's T4 strand, before moving on to present Big Brother's Little Brother (the companion show to Big Brother) on E4 from 2001 onwards. Also in 2001, O'Leary appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank.[8]


On 29 March 2007, it was announced that O'Leary would replace Kate Thornton as the new host of ITV's The X Factor for at least two series. While presenting the show, he reportedly upset Celine Dion, later saying that he "literally had to shut her up."[9]

On 27 March 2015, O'Leary confirmed that he had quit The X Factor after 8 years to pursue other projects. Via his Twitter account, he said:

Good afternoon. After eight wonderful years on The X Factor it's time for me to move on. I'd like to thank ITV, Simon, The X Factor family and particularly the viewers, all of whom have been a big part of my life for so long. I'd like to wish the team all the best for the future, especially whoever takes over from me.

It was announced on 16 April 2015, that O'Leary's replacements would be Olly Murs and Caroline Flack, who previously co-hosted The Xtra Factor, the X Factor's behind-the-scenes companion programme, together in 2011 and 2012. [10]

On 29 March 2016, O'Leary returns as a presenter to replace Olly Murs and Caroline Flack and admitted he was "flattered" to have been approached to take the reins again.[11]

From 2010 to 2019, O'Leary presented the National Television Awards for ITV. In 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, O'Leary hosted Soccer Aid on ITV, a celebrity football match in aid of the charity Unicef. In 2011, O'Leary hosted the Saturday night entertainment show The Marriage Ref on ITV. In September 2013, O'Leary hosted BRITs Icon: Elton John, a one-off music celebration for ITV.

In 2013, O'Leary presented the ITV campaign From the Heart, which encouraged viewers to consider organ donation. In January 2014, O'Leary filled in for Phillip Schofield for a week when he guest presented This Morning opposite Holly Willoughby.[12]

In 2017, O'Leary co-presented the 37th BRIT Awards with Emma Willis. In March 2017, O'Leary guest-presented nine episodes of The Nightly Show on ITV.

Channel 4[edit]

On 27 November 2007, it was announced that Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack was to be O'Leary's last series of Big Brother, and that he would not return in summer 2008. After seven years, he made his final Big Brother appearance on 28 January 2008.

In March 2007, O'Leary signed a year-long contract with Channel 4 to appear on Hollyoaks. However, this was shortened after a series of disputes on set. Jim Rowe, a series writer at the time, said, "He couldn't follow even the simplest commands. It goes to show how vastly different presenting is to acting". O'Leary hasn't acted since. In 2009, O'Leary presented an episode of The Paul O'Grady Show, standing in for Paul O'Grady.

In March 2014, O'Leary made a return to Channel 4, where he presented the Live From Space season for three consecutive nights.[13]


O'Leary was a presenter for Comic Relief in 2005, 2011 and 2013. He also presented Sport Relief in 2012. In August 2006, O'Leary signed a deal to present the game show 1 vs. 100, which aired on Saturday nights on BBC One in combination with The National Lottery Draws.

In May 2009, O'Leary became the presenter of Matt Lucas and David Walliams's show Rock Profile on BBC.[14]

In March 2010, O'Leary hosted a spin-off edition of the BBC One show Question Time aimed at first time voters, which aired on BBC Three.[15] He also presented Dermot Meets..., a series which saw him interview the likes of David Cameron, Gordon Brown, and Nick Clegg.

In November 2015, O'Leary replaced Terry Wogan on Children in Need due to Wogan's cancer-related ill health, from which he died a couple months later.[16]

In 2016, O'Leary presented the BBC One Saturday night game show The Getaway Car. The series was filmed in November 2015 and began airing in January 2016.[17] He has also guest-presented two episodes of The One Show with Alex Jones.


O'Leary joined London's indie rock station XFM in 2001, firstly presenting weekday mid-mornings from 10 am to 1 pm, before moving to a Saturday evening show in mid-2002, where he remained until late 2003.

O'Leary joined BBC Radio 2 in September 2004, presenting a Saturday afternoon show titled Dermot's Saturday Club, which ran from 2 pm to 4 pm. Following a number of changes to the length and timing of O'Leary's programme, due in part to the arrival of Chris Evans to Radio 2 and his role as presenter of The X Factor, his show was broadcast between 3 pm and 6 pm from April 2009[citation needed] until its end on 21 January 2017. It focused on new music and had featured live sessions from the likes of Oasis, Supergrass, the Raconteurs, Massive Attack, Kasabian, the Guillemots, Beck, Lily Allen, Foo Fighters, Bloc Party, and Kate Nash. O'Leary also hosted Radio 2's coverage of the Brit Awards and South by Southwest. He won Sony Gold Awards for Music Programme of the Year in 2008, 2010, and 2013.[18].

Since March 2017, O'Leary has presented the Saturday morning breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 between 8 am and 10 am, taking over the slot from Brian Matthew.[19]

Other work[edit]

In March 2009, O'Leary introduced Michael Jackson to an audience of fans at The O2 in what turned out to be Jackson's final public appearance before his death.[20][21]

In 2015, he was named one of GQ's 50 Best Dressed Men in Britain.[22]

He has voiced television advertisements for Amazon Prime. In 2017, he released a children's book called Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape.[23]

Personal life[edit]

O'Leary supports Arsenal, Celtic and London Irish RUFC. He can be heard on the 'Footballistically Arsenal' podcast with his friends and fellow Arsenal fans Dan Baldwin and Boyd Hilton; on the show, it was mentioned that he owns shared in the club. He supports Wexford GAA in Gaelic games, having attended matches in the past. During a studio guest appearance on Fantasy Football Euro 2004, O'Leary spoke of his support for the Republic of Ireland football team and Ireland Rugby Union team.

When O'Leary was in his late teens, he played American football for his local team, the Colchester Gladiators, and the Ipswich Cardinals, where he wore the number 32.

In 2005, O'Leary ran the London Marathon for the third time, completing it for his first time under four hours. In 2007, he was an usher at the wedding of Holly Willoughby.[24]

O'Leary is a practising Roman Catholic.[25] He has expressed political support for the Labour Party, identifying himself as a socialist.[26]

On 19 November 2011 during an episode of The Xtra Factor, it was announced that O'Leary was engaged to his long-term girlfriend Dee Koppang. They married at St Mary's Church, Chiddingstone, Kent on 14 September 2012, arriving at the church in a Mercedes-Benz Pagoda.[27][28][29][30] With reference to starting a family, O'Leary has stated that he would like to have children, but that his career was "hectic."

O'Leary co-owned the Fishy Fishy restaurants in Brighton[31] and Poole. The Poole restaurant closed in 2013,[32] and the Brighton restaurant closed in 2016.[33]


O'Leary is one of nine presidents of the Young People's Trust for the Environment.[34]

Dermot is a patron of the international children's film festival CineMagic, a registered charity for young people, based in Belfast.[35]

O'Leary has campaigned on behalf of Make Poverty History, and has visited Sierra Leone with CAFOD accompanied by his father. He is also a patron of the male cancer awareness campaign Everyman. In 2003, he played in a charity match for the Colchester Gladiators as a punt returner, helping to raise £2,500 for the Barnardo's children's fund.[36][37]

On 7 March 2014, along with Jeremy Kyle, Bill Bailey, John Prescott, Richard Osman, Rizzle Kicks, Louis Smith, Levi Roots, and Ricky Wilson, O'Leary went commando for charity to raise awareness of testicular cancer. The promo was released on 24 February 2014.[38]

For Red Nose Day 2015, O'Leary participated in a 24-hour dance to raise money for Comic Relief.[39]



Year Title Channel Role Notes
1998–2001 T4 Channel 4 Presenter
1999 The Dog's Balearics Presenter
2002–2003 Re:covered BBC Choice, BBC Three Presenter
2000, 2008, 2009 Never Mind the Buzzcocks BBC One Guest team captain/Guest presenter 3 episodes
2001–2008 Big Brother's Little Brother Channel 4, E4 Presenter
2003 Teen Big Brother: The Experiment Presenter
2004 Shattered Channel 4 Presenter 7 episodes
2005, 2011, 2013 Comic Relief BBC One Co-presenter 3 episodes
2006 Morning Glory Channel 4 Presenter
2006–2007 1 vs. 100 BBC One Presenter 2 series (16 episodes)
2007–2014, 2016–present The X Factor ITV Presenter 10 series (306+ episodes)
2008 Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack E4, Channel 4 Presenter
2009 The Paul O'Grady Show Channel 4 Stand-in presenter 1 episode
2010—present Soccer Aid ITV Co-presenter 4 episodes
2010 Question Time: First Time Voters BBC One Presenter One-off episode
Dermot Meets... Presenter 1 series (4 episodes)
2010–2019 The National Television Awards ITV Presenter 10 ceremonies
2011 Live from the Royal Wedding BBC One Presenter One-off episode
The Marriage Ref ITV Presenter 1 series (7 episodes)
2012 Sport Relief BBC One Co-presenter 1 episode
2013 From the Heart ITV Presenter One-off episode
BRITs Icon: Elton John Presenter One-off episode
2014 This Morning Stand-in Co-presenter 4 episodes
Live From Space Channel 4 Presenter 3 episodes
2015 Children in Need BBC One Co-presenter Replaced Sir Terry Wogan
2016 The Getaway Car Presenter 1 series (12 episodes)
The One Show Guest presenter 2 episodes
2017 BRIT Awards ITV Co-presenter 37th event
The Nightly Show Guest presenter 9 episodes
2018 The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle BBC One Commentator 2 episodes
2019 Icons: The Greatest Person of the 20th Century BBC Two Category presenter ("Advocate") 2 episodes, explorers category and live final
2019–present Small Fortune ITV Presenter 1 series
2019 The X Factor: Celebrity ITV Presenter 1 series
2019 The X Factor: All Stars ITV Presenter 1 series


Year Network Slot Notes
2001–2002 XFM Weekday mornings
2002–2003 Saturday evenings Show called The Weekender
2004–2005 BBC Radio 2 Saturdays 2 – 4 pm Show called Dermot's Saturday Club
2005–2006 Saturdays 5 – 7 pm
2006–2007 Saturdays 4:30 – 6:30 pm 2 pm – 4 pm (during The X Factor months)
2008–2009 Saturdays 2 – 5 pm
2009–2017 Saturdays 3 – 6 pm
2017– Saturdays 8 – 10 am Show called Saturday Breakfast with Dermot


  1. ^ "Dermot makes dramatic return to host X Factor". Digital Spy. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  2. ^ "O'Leary talks about his Irish roots". RTÉ News. 15 May 2010.
  3. ^ Sims, Fiona (12 June 2009). "Fishy Fishy: Dermot O'Leary's restaurant is the reel deal". London: The Times. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  4. ^ "Daily Mail: We're too busy for kids but I do want my career-hungry girlfriend to marry me reveals Dermot". 21 August 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Colchester's Dermot O'Leary marries on Friday". Essex County Standard. 13 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Dermot discusses his dancing - Live Week 5 - The Xtra Factor 2013". YouTube. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 26 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 25 February 2001. ITV.
  9. ^ "Dermot O'Leary upsets Celine Dion". RTÉ Entertainment (14 December 2007)
  10. ^ "The X Factor returns… and Dermot O'Leary is back".
  11. ^ "Dermot O'Leary returns 'home' to The X Factor". BBC News. United Kingdom: BBC. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Dermot O'Leary to guest present This Morning in January - TV News". Digital Spy. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Dermot O'Leary fronts Live from Space Season for Channel 4 - TV News". Digital Spy. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  14. ^ Rock Profile:Peter Andre & Jordan Pt.1 Archived 29 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine Funny or Die
  15. ^ O'Leary to host episode of Question Time. RTÉ Intertainment. 12 February 2010.
  16. ^ "Dermot O'Leary replaces Sir Terry Wogan on Children in Need". BBC News. 13 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Lost in TV - free tickets to your FAVOURITE television shows". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015.
  18. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Dermot O'Leary". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  19. ^ Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 (10 February 2017). "Radio 2 announces schedule changes - Media Centre". BBC. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  20. ^ Youngs, Ian (5 March 2009) 'Final curtain call' for Jackson BBC News Online
  21. ^ "Michael Jackson announces O2 Arena London gigs - and retirement?" NME 5 March 2009
  22. ^ "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015. Archived from the original on 7 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape: Book 1 eBook: Dermot O'Leary, Nick East: Kindle Store". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  24. ^ Holly Willoughby exclusive: Why she loves wearing those revealing dresses[permanent dead link]. Daily Mirror.
  25. ^ Stanford, Peter (11 February 2008). "Dermot O'Leary: The real Dermot stands up". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  26. ^ Rookwood, Dan (7 February 2003) Small Talk: Dermot O'Leary, The Guardian
  27. ^ Bull, Sarah (14 September 2012). "Sealed with a kiss! Dermot O'Leary gives bride Dee a smooch as pair wed after 10 years together". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  28. ^ Fulton, Rick (30 September 2005) Relax, Girls, Dermot Is Not Getting Married The Daily Record
  29. ^ Williams, Andrew (23 July 2007) 60 SECONDS: Dermot O'Leary Metro
  30. ^ "My Secret Life: Dermot O'Leary, broadcaster" Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent 28 July 2007
  31. ^ "Dermot O'Leary pledges future to Brighton". The Argus (Brighton). 24 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  32. ^ "Dermot O'Leary 'forced to close' fish restaurant - ITV News". 10 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  33. ^ "Dermot O'Leary's Brighton restaurant Fishy Fishy hits the rocks".
  34. ^ "Our Team - Presidents, Trustees and Staff - Young People's Trust For the Environment". Young People's Trust For the Environment.
  35. ^ "Dermot O'Leary - Cinemagic".
  36. ^ "Team History". Colchester Gladiators American Football Club. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
  37. ^ "Colchester Gladiators - 20th Anniversary Reunion Game". Britball Now. 19 October 2003. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
  38. ^ "John Prescott, Dermot O'Leary, Bill Bailey and Keith Lemon go commando for Male Cancer Awareness Campaign | The Drum". 24 February 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  39. ^ Austin, Ellie. "Disco Dermot: Why I chose to dance for Comic Relief". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 March 2015.

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