O'Leary in January 2014
Sean Dermot Fintan O'Leary Jr.
24 May 1973
Colchester, Essex, England
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.
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. 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. 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. Growing up, he was a member of The Boys' Brigade Christian youth organisation. 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.
O'Leary started as a disc jockey at BBC Essex, 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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. He also presented Dermot Meets..., a series which saw him interview the likes of David Cameron, Gordon Brown, and Nick Clegg.
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. 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.
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.
O'Leary is one of nine presidents of the Young People's Trust for the Environment and is a patron of the international children's film festival CineMagic, a registered charity for young people based in Belfast. 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.
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.
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. 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. He is a practising Roman Catholic. 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."
|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-present||This Morning||ITV||Co-presenter||Fridays & School holidays; with Alison Hammond|
|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|