Graham Norton has led tributes to TV and radio presenter Dale Winton, who has died at the age of 62.
Norton thanked him for the “the best bit of showbiz advice I ever got – don’t quit the hit!”
The former Supermarket Sweep host died at his home on Wednesday, his long-term agent Jan Kennedy said.
His death remains unexplained although at this stage, police are not treating it as suspicious. A post-mortem will be scheduled in due course.
Police said they were called by the London Ambulance Service at approximately 16:10hrs on Wednesday following the death of a man, aged in his 60s, at a residential address in Whetstone, north London.
Winton spent nearly a decade hosting the ITV daytime hit Supermarket Sweep but also hosted the BBC’s lottery show In It To Win It and game show Hole In The Wall.
Friend and fellow TV presenter Davina McCall described him as a “lovely, warm, kind, sensitive, generous soul with a touch of naughty!”
Comedian David Walliams said he was “heartbroken” to hear of the death of his friend.
Winton’s agent said: “While we know many will share this terrible loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this time of grief.”
Speaking on her morning show on ITV, Lorraine Kelly said she initially thought news of her friend’s death was a hoax, adding: “You go into denial, and think this can’t be real.
“He was a good guy and there wasn’t another side to him.
“We remember him with huge affection and when we see those clips and pictures, you just laugh.”
What it was like to work with Dale by BBC producer, Elizabeth Needham-Bennett
“Morning, darlings!” Dale breezed through the office in his pink shorts and crisp white cotton shirt, his fake tan freshly topped-up. He was the mid-morning show presenter at Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton in the late 80s/early 90s. It was before he became a national name but even then he twinkled star quality.
As a student I was working as his assistant. “Get me a good one” he would say as he opened up the phone lines to read the horoscopes to that day’s chosen Scorpian or Libran, riding the faders, toying with his audience, teasing with a measure of double entendre.
Dale was a total professional even then. He taught me, a teenage aspiring broadcaster, that dedication, hard work and energy made a difference but that it was important to have fun, too. He was never happier than when he was playing Dusty Springfield at full volume in the soundproof studio, his Etienne Aigner aftershave and Evian water atomiser beside him. He adored Dusty.
Off air, there was a vulnerability and personal sadness he always kept private. His mother Sheree had died when he was a young man and Dale had found her dead in her room.
Caught off-guard there was often a sadness in his face. Publicly, he openly discussed his struggle with his weight.
Sometimes he could be acerbic, but that was usually if I or others failed to come up to his standards.
We left Beacon Radio at the same time, sharing our leaving do at the small York Hotel opposite the station. All he wanted was to be a television and radio celebrity. He was funny, generous and kind and I am sad his life is over.
And I can play hide and seek with my fears / And live my days instead of counting my years (Dusty Springfield – Goin’ Back)
In October last year, FremantleMedia, the company behind Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor, announced it was going to bring back Supermarket Sweep after buying the global rights.
There have been no updates since then and there was no indication as to who the presenter might be in the revamp.
The UK version was based on the original US show, which spawned many international versions.
Other friends and celebrity colleagues have also paid tribute to the TV star on social media.
Singer and friend Boy George said he was “shocked” to hear of the death and described Winton as “a sweet man”.
Actor and presenter Sherrie Hewson, who worked with Winton “many times” said: “So very sad about the gorgeous Dale Winton… 62 is no age it’s hard to believe he’s gone.”
Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker, who appeared in a celebrity special of Winton’s show The Other Half, said Winton was a “gorgeous bloke”.
Former Family Fortunes host Les Dennis said Winton was “a lovely, warm man who posed charm”.
TV presenter Paddy McGuinness said: Winton was “the perfect host” and made presenting look “effortless”.
James McCourt, who presented the National Lottery show with him, said he was “a lovely man.”
Some of Dale Winton’s biggest TV moments
- Supermarket Sweep – probably Dale’s most famous show, it was a big hit and had a huge student following. It ran from 1993 until 2001. It was rebooted for a series in 2007
- In It To Win It – the National Lottery quiz show, which ran from 2002 until 2016.
- Hole in the Wall (2008 – 2009) – based on a Japanese game show, celebrity contestants dressed in silver suits and tried to fit through different shaped holes in a moving wall. Contestants included Andi Peters, Scott Mills and Bobby Davro. It was recommissioned in 2009 with Strictly’s Anton Du Beke, a former team captain, hosting it.
- Pets Win Prizes (1994 to 1996) – contestants’ pets competed in tests of agility etc. It ran for two series – the first was hosted by Danny Baker but Dale took over for series two.
- Celebrity Fit Club – Dale hosted three series of the Noughties fat loss show, which featured celebrities including Anne Widdecombe, Russell Grant and Julie Goodyear.
In 1995 he also appeared in the video for Britpop band Sleepers’ single Inbetweener, peering above the shelves of, not surprisingly, a supermarket.
A year later, his cult status was complete with a cameo appearance in Danny Boyle’s film Trainspotting about heroin addicts in a poverty-stricken area of Edinburgh, starring Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Milller.
In 2000, he was surprised by Michael Aspel on the set of the National Lottery for the now defunct show, This Is Your Life.
He also presented Winton’s Wonderland and Dale’s All Stars.
Kate Phillips, controller of entertainment commissioning at the BBC, said Winton was “an immensely well-loved individual” and praised his “wonderfully unique and special energy” that he brought to TV programmes.
Winton started his career as a DJ in London leading to work on local radio and went on to work on BBC Radio 2, which released a statement saying everyone there was “deeply saddened” to hear about his death.
“He was hugely popular as the host of Pick of the Pops for a decade. We are thinking of his family at this time and send them our love and best wishes,” the statement added.
Winton was born in Marylebone, London in 1955. His mother, Sheree Winton, who was an actress, died from an overdose shortly after his 21st birthday.