Tributes are being shared on social media for the presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady after he died suddenly at the age of 67.
His partner Andre Portasio confirmed his passing in a statement saying he died “unexpectedly but peacefully on Tuesday evening”.
The beloved TV personality from Birkenhead rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s through his drag persona Lily Savage.
He then went on to host a series of programmes including The Paul O’Grady Show, Blankety Blank, For The Love Of Dogs and his BBC radio 2’s Paul O’Grady on the Wireless which concluded in 2022 after 14 years.
In 2005, O’Grady was awarded an Honorary Fellowship to Liverpool John Moores University and was made an MBE in 2008 for services to entertainment.
'I don't think there's anyone who does the job that I do that doesn't class Paul as an icon'
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) March 29, 2023
Drag Queen, Danny Beard who grew up on the Wirral, said that Paul was an icon and that he was “the most important person in British culture for drag, for the queer community”, during an interview with BBC news this morning.
O’Grady performed as his persona Lily Savage and had an eight-year residency at the famous London gay club The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
There, O’Grady became a voice for the drag community.
Such sad news. Paul O’Grady – funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed. A really special man.
— Lorraine (@reallorraine) March 29, 2023
ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly has described O’Grady as a “really special man”.
The Scottish broadcaster paid tribute to O’Grady this morning on Lorraine recalling his love for animals and that “there was one thing he couldn’t stop, adopting wee dogs.”
We’re deeply saddened to learn that our wonderful, kind friend and beloved Ambassador Paul O’Grady MBE has passed away. He will be so dearly missed by all of us at Battersea. Our love and thoughts go out to all of Paul's family and friends at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/hjfwBcu7sz
— Battersea (@Battersea_) March 29, 2023
Battersea Dogs Home, the location for O’Grady’s multi-award-winning ITV show For The Love Of Dogs shared that they are “deeply saddened” of his passing.
O’Grady became an ambassador for Battersea in 2012, following the success of ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs and then came to win the award for Outstanding Contribution to Animal Welfare at the RSPCA’s Animal Hero Awards in 2016.
He was a fearless campaigner for LGBT+ equality & animal rights.
Our sincere condolences to his partner Andre and to all who loved him. pic.twitter.com/ZveND7puCY
— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) March 29, 2023
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has also shared a tribute to O’Grady who was a patron of the Peter Tatchell Foundation which promotes LGBT+ Rights, he was also due to lead a campaign for a police apology following past homophobia.
In 1987 during the AIDS crisis the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was raided by 35 policeman and O’Grady was arrested by police wearing rubber gloves.
In a tweet shared two years ago, which marked 34 years since the raid, O’Grady said: “I remember saying something like ’Well, well, looks like we’ve got help with the washing up’. They made many arrests but we were a stoic lot and it was business as usual the following night.”
— Malcolm Prince (@malprin) March 29, 2023
Malcolm Prince, producer of the Paul O’Grady show had visited O’Grady the day before his death and shared that he was “surrounded by his beloved dogs, he was laughing, smiling and full of life.”
Paul O’Grady has died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at the age of 67, according to his partner. The iconic performer behind drag queen Lily Savage appeared as Miss Hannigan in the @edinplayhouse production of Annie just last week. #CapitalReports 📸 @edinplayhouse pic.twitter.com/oXThfS0zpm
— CapitalScotland News (@CapitalScotNews) March 29, 2023
Tributes have also been shared from theatre-goers as O’Grady had recently been on tour playing Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie and had played a show in Edinburgh just three days before his death.
O’Grady was scheduled to continue the tour in Southampton, Liverpool, Wimbledon and Bristol.
I am beyond sadness at the passing of my lovely outrageous talented friend. #PaulOGrady He is so loved by the British public and has done some much for the entertainment industry and his passion for animal. There will never be another like him. I will miss Paul & Lilly for ever pic.twitter.com/chOVugOShC
— Pete Price (@PeteCityPrice) March 29, 2023
Pete Price, Liverpool broadcaster and friend of O’Grady has shared a heartfelt tribute on twitter this morning and broke down in tears during an interview with GBNews this morning saying that O’Grady “totally changed teatime television” and that “he was one of the gang”.
Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O’Grady, who worked closely with Her Majesty in support of @Battersea_, providing lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories. pic.twitter.com/N13aBuBYCm
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 29, 2023
Queen Consort Camilla has shared that she is “deeply saddened to hear of the death of Paul O’Grady” and recalls many “waggy-tailed memories.”
The Queen Consort joined Camila during a special Christmas episode last year to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home which was established in the 19th century.