Desmond Michael Lynam, OBE (born 17 September 1942) is an Irish-born British television and radio presenter. In a broadcasting career spanning more than forty 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 World Cup and Olympic Games, as well as presenting non-sporting programmes such as Holiday, How Do They Do That? and Countdown.
Lynam in 2005
Desmond Michael Lynam
17 September 1942
|Spouse(s)||Susan Skinner (1965–1974; divorced) |
Rosemary Diamond (m. 2011)
|Children||Patrick (b. 1970)|
Desmond Michael Lynam was born in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, and moved with his family to Brighton, England, at the age of six. He recalled having a strong Irish accent at that 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.
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, and went on to anchor Sport on Two and Sports Report (1969–1978) on BBC Radio 2. From 1974 to 1976, he co-presented the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on three mornings each week. He was also the radio boxing commentator for 20 years.
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 (with Gerald Williams), main presenter 1991–1997 and 1999), the Grand National (1985–1999), the Football World Cup (1982–1998) and the Olympic Games (1980–1996).
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. In 1998, Lynam made a brief return to BBC Radio 2, presenting the 5–7pm Drivetime show on Fridays only. During this period, Johnnie Walker presented the show from Monday to Thursday.
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. During the show Tara McDonald performed the song "We'll Meet Again" live. 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 the Wimbledon Championships 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. Some people said I went from being a great broadcaster, or at least a very acceptably good one, to being a somewhat inadequate one overnight".
Also that year, Lynam replaced Richard Whiteley as the host of Channel 4's Countdown, with his first episode airing on 31 October 2005, following Whiteley's death. 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 was in West Sussex, about 250 miles away. He was replaced by Des O'Connor.
From 2011 to 2013, Lynam co-hosted with Christopher Matthew three series of Touchline Tales on BBC Radio 4, a humorous look at sport.
In an interview, he stated that "I liked the radio boxing commentaries very much, especially following Muhammad Ali around the world. That was a great period of my life."
He married Susan Skinner in 1965, and they 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 married his long-term partner, Rosemary Diamond, in 2011.
- "New Year Honours List 2008". Honours.gov.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Des Lynam (2005). I Should Have Been at Work. HarperCollins Entertainment. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-00-720544-8.
- "Des Lynam Biography". Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Debretts: Desmond Lynam, Esq, OBE". Archived from the original on 23 May 2013.
- Millward, David (15 June 2000). "It's all over for Match of the Day". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Smoothie Des joins Radio 2".
- "Des Lynam moves to ITV". The Guardian. London. 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". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "Des Lynam makes BBC radio return". BBC. 10 July 2004. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Des Lynam, David Frost join Sky One". Digital Spy. 9 March 2005. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Des Lynam (2005). I Should Have Been at Work. HarperCollins Entertainment. ISBN 978-0-00-720544-8.
- "Profile: Des Lynam". BBC. 30 September 2006. 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. London. 30 September 2006.[dead link]
- "O'Connor to be new Countdown host". BBC. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Hillsborough remembered - Des Lynam". BBC. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- Stevenson, Andy (19 February 2015). "Vox in the Box: Des Lynam". thesetpieces.com. Alma Media, Totally & Crisp Sports. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Viner, Brian (23 June 1999). "The Brian Viner Interview: Des Lynam". The Independent. London.
- "Profile: Des Lynam". BBC News. 29 December 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- "Des Lynam endorses UKIP and rewrites Send in the Clowns". BBC News. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
- Taylor, Matthew (10 May 2013). "Des Lynam endorses Ukip ... in song!". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 October 2014.