Dermot O'Leary
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Dermot O'Leary

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

(1973-05-24) 24 May 1973 (age 47)
  • Television presenter
  • radio DJ
Years active1998-present
Dee Koppang
(m. 2012)

Sean Dermot Fintan O'Leary Jr. (born 24 May 1973) is an English television presenter and radio DJ who currently works for ITV and BBC Radio 2. His 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, during which he stepped down to pursue other ventures.

Early life

Sean Dermot Fintan O'Leary Jr. was born on 24 May 1973 in Colchester, Essex, the son of Irish parents Maria and Seán and he holds both British and Irish citizenship.[1] He attended primary school in nearby Marks Tey and later joined St Benedict's Catholic College in Colchester. His relaxed attitude at school caused him to fail all but two of his GCSEs.[2] 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.[3] Growing up, he was a member of The Boys' Brigade Christian youth organisation.[4] When he was in his late teens, he played American football for the Colchester Gladiators and the Ipswich Cardinals, where he wore the number 32.


Early career

O'Leary started as a disc jockey at BBC Essex,[5] 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.[6]


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. On 27 March 2015, O'Leary confirmed that he had quit The X Factor after eight 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.

O'Leary was replaced by Olly Murs and Caroline Flack, who previously co-hosted The Xtra Factor, the behind-the-scenes companion programme, together in 2011 and 2012.[7]

On 29 March 2016, O'Leary returned to The X Factor as a presenter, replacing Murs and Flack, for the show's 13th series. In a statement, he said:

"I'm very flattered to be asked back to The X Factor, and am currently dusting off my dancing shoes. There is nothing more exciting than hosting live TV on a Saturday night. The show is naturally very close to my heart, after having hosted it for 8 years. I'm really looking forward to it, and excited to be back."[8]

From 2010 to 2019, O'Leary presented the National Television Awards for ITV. In 2010, 2012, 2014 2016 and 2020, 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.[9]

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

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.[10]


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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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 10am to 1pm, 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 2pm to 4pm. 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 3pm and 6pm from April 2009[] 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.[15]

Since March 2017, O'Leary has presented the Saturday morning breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 between 8am and 10am, taking over the slot from Brian Matthew and Sounds of the 60s, which moved to an earlier time of 6am with Tony Blackburn as presenter.[16]

O'Leary sits in for Zoe Ball's Radio 2 breakfast show when she's off for a holiday or on a break.

Other work

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.[17][18]

In 2015, he was named one of GQ's 50 Best Dressed Men in Britain.[19]

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.[20]

Charity work

O'Leary is one of nine presidents of the Young People's Trust for the Environment[21] and is a patron of the international children's film festival CineMagic, a registered charity for young people based in Belfast.[22] He has campaigned on behalf of Make Poverty History, and 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.[23][24]

In 2005, O'Leary ran the London Marathon for the third time, completing it for his first time under four hours.

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" (wearing no underwear) for charity to raise awareness of testicular cancer. The promo was released on 24 February 2014.[25]

For Red Nose Day 2015, O'Leary participated in a 24-hour dance to raise money for Comic Relief.[26]

Personal life

O'Leary married his long-term girlfriend, Dee Koppang, in Chiddingstone in September 2012.[27][28] They have one son, who was born in June 2020.[29]

O'Leary identifies as a fan of the Socialist Workers Party but has said that they would "take all of [his] money" so he instead supports the Labour Party.[30] He supports Arsenal FC, Celtic FC, and London Irish RFC. 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 shares in the club. He supports Wexford GAA in Gaelic games. During a studio guest appearance on Fantasy Football Euro 2004, he spoke of his support for the Irish national football team and the national rugby union team.

In 2007, O'Leary was an usher at the wedding of Holly Willoughby.[31] He is a practising Roman Catholic.[32] In an interview with Peter Stanford of the Daily Telegraph in February 2008, he "cheerfully" admitted using contraception while living with his future wife: "I do get it in the neck from some Catholics who say I am a buffet Catholic, picking and choosing the bits I like or don't like."[33]

O'Leary co-owned the Fishy Fishy restaurants in Brighton and Poole.[34] The Poole restaurant closed in 2013,[35] and the Brighton restaurant closed in 2016.[36]


Year Title Channel Role Notes
1998-2001 T4 Channel 4 Presenter
1999 The Dog's Balearics Presenter
2000 The Barfly Sessions 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
2002-2004 SAS: Are You Tough Enough? BBC Two Presenter 3 series (18 episodes)
2002-2003 Re:covered BBC Choice, BBC Three Presenter
2003 Teen Big Brother: The Experiment Channel 4, E4 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, 2016-2019 The X Factor ITV Presenter 11 series (320+ 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: The Band ITV Presenter 1 series
2020 One World: Together at Home BBC One Co-presenter One-off special
2020 Big Brother: Best Shows Ever E4 Himself Guest appearance
2020 Goodwood SpeedWeek ITV/ITV4 Presenter
2020-present This Morning ITV Co-presenter Fridays & School holidays; with Alison Hammond


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


  1. ^ "O'Leary talks about his Irish roots". RTÉ News. 15 May 2010.
  2. ^ Sims, Fiona (12 June 2009). "Fishy Fishy: Dermot O'Leary's restaurant is the reel deal". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009.
  3. ^ "Colchester's Dermot O'Leary marries on Friday". Essex County Standard. 13 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Dermot discusses his dancing - Live Week 5 - The Xtra Factor 2013". YouTube. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 2014.
  5. ^ [1] Archived 26 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 25 February 2001. ITV.
  7. ^ "Dermot makes dramatic return to host X Factor". Digital Spy. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Dermot O'Leary returns 'home' to The X Factor". BBC News. United Kingdom: BBC. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Dermot O'Leary to guest present This Morning in January - TV News". Digital Spy. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ "Dermot O'Leary fronts Live from Space Season for Channel 4 - TV News". Digital Spy. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  11. ^ Rock Profile:Peter Andre & Jordan Pt.1 Archived 29 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine Funny or Die
  12. ^ O'Leary to host episode of Question Time. RTÉ Intertainment. 12 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Dermot O'Leary replaces Sir Terry Wogan on Children in Need". BBC News. 13 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Lost in TV - free tickets to your FAVOURITE television shows". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015.
  15. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Dermot O'Leary". 1 January 1970. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 (10 February 2017). "Radio 2 announces schedule changes - Media Centre". BBC. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Youngs, Ian (5 March 2009) 'Final curtain call' for Jackson BBC News Online
  18. ^ "Michael Jackson announces O2 Arena London gigs - and retirement?" NME 5 March 2009
  19. ^ "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015. Archived from the original on 7 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape: Book 1 eBook: Dermot O'Leary, Nick East: Kindle Store". Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ "Our Team - Presidents, Trustees and Staff - Young People's Trust For the Environment". Young People's Trust For the Environment.
  22. ^ "Dermot O'Leary - Cinemagic".
  23. ^ "Team History". Colchester Gladiators American Football Club. Retrieved 2008.
  24. ^ "Colchester Gladiators - 20th Anniversary Reunion Game". Britball Now. 19 October 2003. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 2008.
  25. ^ "John Prescott, Dermot O'Leary, Bill Bailey and Keith Lemon go commando for Male Cancer Awareness Campaign | The Drum". 24 February 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  26. ^ Austin, Ellie. "Disco Dermot: Why I chose to dance for Comic Relief". Radio Times. Retrieved 2015.
  27. ^ "My Secret Life: Dermot O'Leary, broadcaster" Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent 28 July 2007
  28. ^ Gordon, Naomi (14 September 2012). "Dermot O'Leary marries long-term girlfriend Dee Koppang - picture". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2020.
  29. ^ Hegarty, Tasha (4 July 2020). "Dermot O'Leary confirms baby son's name in adorable radio show link". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2020.
  30. ^ Rookwood, Dan (7 February 2003) Small Talk: Dermot O'Leary, The Guardian
  31. ^ Holly Willoughby exclusive: Why she loves wearing those revealing dresses[permanent dead link]. Daily Mirror.
  32. ^ "Cheerful soundtrack to Dermot O'Leary's happy life". Retrieved 2019.
  33. ^ Stanford, Peter (11 February 2008). "Dermot O'Leary: The real Dermot stands up". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016.
  34. ^ "Dermot O'Leary pledges future to Brighton". The Argus (Brighton). 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  35. ^ "Dermot O'Leary 'forced to close' fish restaurant - ITV News". 10 March 2013. Retrieved 2014.
  36. ^ "Dermot O'Leary's Brighton restaurant Fishy Fishy hits the rocks".

External links

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