Legendary game show hostess Adriana Xenides died this afternoon in a Liverpool hospital, aged 54.
The former Wheel of Fortune co-host was admitted a few days ago with ongoing intestinal problems.
Argentinian born Xenides worked on the show for 18 years, winning her a place in the Guinness Book of Records until US hostess Vanna White eventually pipped her.
She also appeared as a panelist on Beauty and the Beast, and joined Celebrity Big Brother in 2002 where she was memorably seen in pyjamas clutching fluffy toys.
Behind the scenes she battled depression, and suffered a gastro-intestinal disorder which caused a bloated stomach to more than double its normal size.
“It is a type of pain that honestly, when you hear someone scream in agony, you can’t help but voice it. It takes you down to your knees,” she once said.
The disorder affected her heart, kidney and liver, which led to a health makeover.
As a co-host she always strived to present an elegant figure in glamorous gowns. After she was briefly replaced during a period of medical attention she said producers told her a ‘little bit of class’ finally returned to the show.
Xenides maintained her long relationship with John Burgess for years after the show’s demise. He visited her in hospital yesterday.
When Nine returned its short-lived remake of Wheel of Fortune, she said of Burgess, “We were talking, reminiscing about the tricks we used to get up to and we said, ‘hey the show’s back isn’t it great.’
“And I’m so thrilled and proud that the big boys have allowed her (co-host Kelly Landry) to expand the role of co-host,” Xenides said. “Rather than in our day where we talked for a few minutes at the beginning and the end.”
“It’s incredibly sad,” said John Burgess in a statement. “She was a great friend and a TV legend. A statement will be released with her family shortly.”
Seven’s Director of Programming and Production, Tim Worner said, “Adriana was a wonderful performer. It was no accident she held the world record for the longest running co-host of Wheel Of Fortune.
“She brought something very special to the show. Her charm and her warmth were always shining brightly and she was her bubbly self with one and all – the same with contestants, audience members or crew.
“The lady was a class act and her many friends at Seven will miss her.
“We are really sad to hear the news and our thoughts are with Adriana’s family and friends.”