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Val Doonican
Birth name Michael Valentine Doonican
Born 3 February 1927 (1927-02-03) (age 82)
Waterford, Ireland
Genres Traditional pop music
Years active 1951–present
Labels Decca, Pye, Philips
Website Official website

Val Doonican (born Michael Valentine Doonican, 3 February 1927, Waterford, Ireland) is an Irish singer. From 1964 to 1986 he was a regular fixture on the BBC Television's schedule with The Val Doonican Show, which featured his own singing performances and a variety of guest artists.


Early life

Doonican was the youngest of eight children. His father died when he was a teenager, so it was necessary for him to leave De La Salle College, Waterford and get jobs in factories fabricating steel and making orange boxes.

Singing career

He was from a musical family and started performing in his home town and in a summer season at Courtown Harbour. He was then featured on Irish radio and appeared in the first television broadcast from Waterford. He then joined a band which toured Ireland playing the drums. In 1951 he moved to England to join another group, The Four Ramblers, who toured and performed on BBC Radio shows broadcast from factories.

He eventually went solo and had a radio show as well as performing concerts and cabaret. In 1963 he was booked to appear on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. As a result of this performance, Bill Cotton, then Assistant Head of Light Entertainment, offered him his own show on BBC television, lasting for over twenty years. It featured his relaxed crooner style performance sitting in a rocking chair, as well as a number of comic Irish songs, notably "Paddy McGinty's Goat", "Delaney's Donkey", and "O'Rafferty's Motor Car", on which he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. He often wore cardigans and jumpers (similar to Ben Trayford), which together with the rocking chairs he often sat in became his trademark, and he was sometimes compared to American singer Perry Como, though he has claimed his main influence was Bing Crosby. As a variety show, there were a number of other acts featured and performers such as Dave Allen had early exposure on the show.

The Palladium performance also kick-started his recording career. Between 1964 and 1973 Doonican was rarely out of the UK Singles Chart, his greatest successes including the singles "Walk Tall", "The Special Years", "What Would I Be", "If The Whole World Stopped Loving", and "Morning"; and the albums 13 Lucky Shades of Val Doonican, and Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently. He also sang the theme song to the film Ring of Bright Water.

Current activities

Doonican still performs but now enjoys spending a lot of free time in Spain, where he has a second home, and is a keen golfer. He lives in Knotty Green, Buckinghamshire.

Doonican is cited as a member of the eclectic (and fictional) "orchestra" in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's recording, The Intro and the Outro, where he is credited "as himself".

UK Top Ten hits

  • 1964 "'Walk Tall" (#3)
  • 1965 "The Special Years" (#7)
  • 1966 "'Elusive Butterfly" (#5)
  • 1966 "What Would I Be" (#2)
  • 1967 "If the Whole World Stopped Loving" (#3)


  • "Val Doonican". Legends (BBC Four). 2007-12-04.

External links



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