Saturday 24 February 2018

Heartbroken Thelma Mansfield tells of 'a partnership that was made in TV heaven'

Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Thelma Mansfield has told of her heartbreak at the death of her former screen partner Derek Davis.

She and Derek co-hosted RTE's long-running flagship Live at Three show, which ran from 1986.

Derek Davis with Thelma Mansfield on ‘Live at Three’
Derek Davis with Thelma Mansfield on ‘Live at Three’
Derek Davis backstage at the the Rose of Tralee in 1995
Derek Davis with his wife Una
Big softie: Derek Davis

Their on-screen partnership that lasted 11 years, but they also remained firm friends down through the years.

"It was a partnership made in heaven really," was how Thelma described their time on the popular show. "We always stayed in touch since," a deeply saddened Thelma said.

The death of Mr Davis (67) was announced at noon yesterday. He suffered a stroke on Sunday.

"It is particularly sad. It's just a shock - I'm in disbelief and very heartbroken," Thelma told the Herald.

derek b/w

Derek brought his journalistic edge to Live at Three

"He was an extraordinary character. He was wonderful. He was one of the most professional men you could ever work with, and so reliable.

"He would know your mood immediately and if you needed a little bit of cheering up, that is exactly what he would do.

"He was a highly intelligent man, very witty, full of ideas and energetic.

"He made every day easy, because he brought that wonderful humour in. He just made you feel good.

"Derek was polite and courteous, and he had a really generous nature. He was a listener. I can't say enough good things about him. He was a real friend who you could depend on.

"He would always stay in touch. We only had lunch together just a few months ago, and we just never stopped talking for three hours. He was in wonderful spirits.

Read more: President leads tributes to RTÉ 'gentleman' Davis

"He had done so much in his life, and we shared so much in common.

"We liked boats, and nice food and fashion. He was such a wonderful dresser. We got on so well."

Speaking to the Examiner this morning, she said: "I'm utterly brokenhearted. I thought he'd outlive us all. I can't believe it."

Speaking about the success of their programme, Thelma recalled: "It was a good show. It had a good combination of subjects every day, lots of good music and it was all very professionally done. We just seemed to be the right hosts for it."

Television presenter Daithi O'Se, who presents the Today Show with Maura Durrane, also paid tribute to Derek, saying he was a really warm person.

He said that the longevity of Live at Three was "testament to Mr Davis, along with Thelma Mansfield".

"I remember coming home from school, and my mum used to have it on every evening. It was a staple diet of every Irish household during the '80s."

Read more: Tough guy exterior hid a heart bigger than the man himself 

Both men hosted the top-rating Rose of Tralee competition, and O'Se reflected on the challenges both he and Derek faced.

"He was a very likeable person. When you are the host of the Rose of Tralee, you need to have people on your side, and I think that is why he was a huge success," Daithi said.

Anthony O'Gara, executive chair of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, offered his sympathies to the family of Mr Davis, who presented the show in 1995 and 1996.

"Derek Davis was a gentleman and a professional broadcaster," he said.

Noel Curran, director general of RTE, said Mr Davis was full of humour and warmth, and was one of the most versatile presenters RTE has seen.

"But at heart he was always a journalist, and he brought that inquisitive sense of journalism to everything he did," he said.

READ MORE: Tributes as veteran TV presenter Derek Davis (67) dies after a short illness

"From Live at Three to the Rose of Tralee, from Liveline to regional reports on the 2007 General Election for Drivetime, Derek Davis' popular approach was always rooted in that strong journalism which had marked his earlier years as a reporter and newsreader."

Mr Davis is survived by his wife Una, children Michael, Colm and Sean, daughter-in-law Georgina and grandson Mikey, and family and friends.

He will be reposing at his south Co Dublin home on Sunday from 2pm to 8pm.

His removal will be next Monday to the Victorian Chapel at Mount Jerome for a 2pm funeral service.

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