Paul O'Grady dead: Lily Savage star passes away 'unexpectedly' aged 67

Paul O’Grady dies aged 67: Lily Savage star, TV presenter and radio DJ passed away ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ last night, his partner reveals

  • Star shot to fame as drag act Lily Savage and hosted shows on both TV and radio
  • His partner Andre Portasio revealed he passed away on Tuesday night aged 67

TV presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady has died at the age of 67, his partner Andre Portasio has said.

The TV star, also known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage, died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ on Tuesday evening Mr Portasio said in a statement.

Mr Portasio said in his statement: ‘It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.’

‘We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.

‘He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion.

TV star Paul O’Grady died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ on Tuesday evening, his partner said

Paul and Amanda Holden chat to Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall, outside Buckingham Palace in July last year during a reception for Battersea Dogs Home, which he was closely associated with through his show For The Love Of Dogs

‘I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.’

O’Grady and Portasio were married during a low-key wedding ceremony in 2017.

The star’s cause of death was not immediately revealed, however he had previously spoken of surviving heart attacks in 2002, 2006 and 2014, and also kidney failure.

During his career, he hosted The Paul O’Grady Show, Blind Date and Blankety Blank, as well as ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.

He also hosted ITV celebrity game show, Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up.

O’Grady took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla Black, who died in 2015, as he hosted the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017.

Last year he was joined by the Queen Consort in a special one-off episode of For The Love Of Dogs to mark 160 years of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organisation for which he was an ambassador.

In August of 2022 he presented his final BBC Radio 2 show having hosted the Sunday afternoon programme for nearly 14 years, later saying the station’s drive for younger listeners ‘doesn’t make sense’.

Born in Birkenhead, on the Wirral, Merseyside, O’Grady’s mother’s maiden name was Savage – which is believed to have inspired his famous drag alter ego.

He began his career performing as Lily Savage in the 1970s whilst working as a peripatetic care officer for Camden Council, going on to tour northern England as part of drag duo the Playgirls.

He later settled into a solo show as Savage that ran for eight years at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and made a name for himself speaking out about LGBT issues.

O’Grady’s career as Savage took off with TV and radio appearances in character and he was eventually asked to take over from Paula Yates as The Big Breakfast presenter as Savage from 1995 to 1996.

Paul hosted classic TV quiz show Blankety Blank as his alter-ego Lily Savage

Paul first found fame as transvestite prostitute Roxanne on The Bill, a role he played three times between 1988 and 1990

He took on chat show The Lily Savage Show for the BBC for a short run in 1997 and later that year had success as the host of a revived version of gameshow Blankety Blank, which ran until 2002.

His self-titled teatime programme The Paul O’Grady Show aired on ITV from 2004 to 2005, later moving to Channel 4 as The New Paul O’Grady Show.

Throughout his career O’Grady won numerous accolades including a TV Bafta, a British Comedy Award, and a National Television Award for The Paul O’Grady Show.

He was made an MBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to entertainment.

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