Paul O'Grady
British comedian, actor and television presenter
Paul O'Grady
Paul James Michael O'Grady MBE is an English comedian, television presenter, actor, writer and radio DJ. He is best known for presenting the daytime chat television series, The Paul O'Grady Show and, more recently, Paul O'Grady Live, as well as his drag queen comedic alter ego, Lily Savage, as whom he performed in various television series including Blankety Blank (1997–1999) and Lily Live! (2000–2001).
Biography
Paul O'Grady's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Paul O'Grady from around the web
Why Gladys won’t be putting on the Ritz!
Horncastle News - almost 2 years
She’s raised thousands of pounds for charity and now Horncastle’s very own Gladys Tingle can count Paul O’Grady among her fans.
Article Link:
Horncastle News article
Go go Gladys off to The Ritz after Paul O’Grady Show stardom
Horncastle News - almost 2 years
Lights, cameras and action! Horncastle’s very own ‘marathon queen’ Gladys Tingle had a taste of TV stardom yesterday (Tuesday).
Article Link:
Horncastle News article
If Homophobia Was a Winter Olympic Sport, Russia Would Be a Gold Medal Contender
Huffington Post Sports - about 3 years
This Friday, the Winter Olympics open in the Russian resort of Sochi amid great controversy over the Putin regime's homophobic policies, which clearly violate the anti-discrimination Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. For me, queer freedom knows no borders. Over the last decade or so, amazing positive gains have been won by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Britain. We've gone from being the country with the largest number of homophobic laws in the world in 1999, to having some the best laws on sexual orientation and gender identity today. But I am an internationalist, not a nationalist. We must not give up the fight until every LGBT person on this planet has equal human rights, respect, dignity and opportunity. That's why I am passionately opposed to what is now happening to LGBT people in Russia. L-R Peter Tatchell and Stephen Fry at the recent protest outside the Russian Embassy in London After a brief period of post-communist liberalisat ...
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Huffington Post Sports article
Stokenchurch rescue dog to feature on TV
Bucks Free Press - over 3 years
A DOG waiting for a new home in Stokenchurch Dog Rescue’s kennels will have a big day in the national spotlight next Monday when he appears on ITV1’s Paul O’Grady Show.
Article Link:
Bucks Free Press article
O'Grady joins 'Holby City'
breakingnews.ie - over 3 years
Presenter and funnyman Paul O’Grady is to join the cast of BBC drama 'Holby City'.
Article Link:
breakingnews.ie article
It’s music to our ears
The Gazette - over 4 years
We all know Blackpool’s got talent, but it could help if local venues take advantage of a change in licensing laws later this year. The Live Music Bill, already law, will be introduced formally in October. It will cut the red tape which put bands on the run after clubs, pubs, village halls and other premises were put off by the layers of bureaucracy introduced by the Licensing Act 2003. Blackpool has long been associated with big name entertainers. But within the music trade, it’s known as the town which gave so many stars an early, or even first, break. The town is a training ground for talent. Impressionist Joe Longthorne honed his skills at Layton Institute – which celebrates 100 years this year – and returned the favour with a gig there at the height of his TV success. Paul O’Grady, as Lily Savage, did much the same. Take That stars Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams have also paid tribute to the grounding given on the resort’s clubland circuit. Russell Watson was another risi ...
Article Link:
The Gazette article
DUNCAN BARKES So-called celebs take the shine off star status
Bognor Regis Observer - almost 5 years
Comedian, actor and former addict Russell Brand addressed a group of MPs on the subject of addiction last week. He turned up in ripped clothing and enough bling to satisfy the keenest Elizabeth Duke devotee. He looked a mess. But it wasn’t just sartorial elegance that he lacked. Despite his celebrity status he was missing something that today has virtually disappeared: star quality. Where have all the stars gone? All we have now, mainly, are hundreds of so-called celebrities who have become famous (or infamous) as a result of sordid behaviour or, at best, for doing very little of any note. These days you can be tagged a ‘celebrity’ for behaviour that only a few years ago would be classed as utterly shameful. We now have ‘celebrities’ whose only claim to fame is to have bedded a premiership footballer. To become famous nowadays you simply need to appear on some dreadfully contrived reality TV programme and demonstrate your low IQ or general ignorance, or be generally obnoxious and u ...
Article Link:
Bognor Regis Observer article
Comment on Barking blonds: Paul O’Grady, Peter Egan and an unofficial hotel for dogs by Somerset2
The Independent - almost 5 years
Great blog and great photo!
Article Link:
The Independent article
Comment on Barking blonds: Paul O’Grady, Peter Egan and an unofficial hotel for dogs by Sharon Webley
The Independent - almost 5 years
Glad you both enjoyed Crufts.  Was great to see you both up there yesterday. You always make me laugh
Article Link:
The Independent article
Barking blonds: Paul O’Grady, Peter Egan and an unofficial hotel for dogs
The Independent - almost 5 years
It is impressive to see dog and owner competing competently in the agility class. Especially when one has legs like a Queen Anne chair and the other like 'Twizzle'.
Article Link:
The Independent article
Paul O'Grady: Guests Were 'Coked Off Their Minds'
The Huffington Post - about 5 years
Paul O'Grady has claimed some celebrity guests on his chat shows were high on drugs. The TV host says he quit his Friday night show last year because he couldn't stand the guests - and many snorted cocaine before coming on to plug their books or films. More...
Article Link:
The Huffington Post article
Coronation Street Stage Show to Premiere March 2012 Hosted by Paul O'Grady
News On News - about 5 years
Reckless Entertainment, in association with ITV Studios and SMG Europe, has announced “Street of Dreams”, a major live musical event in celebration of Coronation Street which will debut in Manchester for a spectacular world premiere next March starring faces from the street  - past and present and hosted by Paul O’Grady.   After more than fifty years on air, Britain’s best-loved soap has a glorious heritage of unforgettable stories and iconic characters which have been handpicked and now carefully crafted into this brilliant musical event by award-winning musical writer, composer and lyricist, Trisha Ward.   BAFTA winning film and stage Director, John Stephenson OBE (“5 Children & IT” and “Animal Farm”), will direct the live musical tribute, which is to be staged on an ambitious scale with a spectacular set and special visual effects at Manchester’s M.E.N Arena. A 25 piece orchestra, a West End cast and choreography from Olivier award winning Stephen Mear will complete the dazzling ...
Article Link:
News On News article
Paul O'Grady: Lady Gaga Wanted Lily Savage In One Of Her Music Videos - Gigwise
Google News - over 5 years
Paul O'Grady has revealed that Lady Gaga wanted his drag character Lily Savage to appear in one of her music videos. The TV presenter, who met the singer when she first appeared on tea-time edition of The Paul O'Grady Show, said Lady Gaga was a big fan
Article Link:
Google News article
Glad the Hoff faces BGT axe? - The Sun
Google News - over 5 years
"Let's have Jimmy Tarbuck, Bruce Forsythe and Paul O`Grady, true entertainers who know the business and guarantee a good laugh!" itsmemarko found the Hoff repetitive: "Is David Hasselhoff really a man or is he a giant kids' toy that just repeats the
Article Link:
Google News article
PAUL O'GRADY FORGETS MARRIAGE - Express.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
By Daily Express Reporter WHILE some may wish they could forget they were married Paul O'Grady had to be reminded of his own marriage by his manager. The star walked down the aisle in 1977 with a work chum – as a favour. The gay star married barmaid
Article Link:
Google News article
Daniel Sloss says TV recognition won't turn him into Mr Big - stv.tv
Google News - over 5 years
The 20-year old has already appeared on The Paul O' Grady show and 8 out of 10 cats and has worked alongside established comedians such as Frankie Boyle, Rob Brydon and David Walliams. Making his fourth Edinburgh festival appearance this year with new
Article Link:
Google News article
Analysis: Lady Gaga show sponsored by taxpayer - Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Google News - over 5 years
On June 17 this year, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – better known as Lady Gaga – appeared on a special edition of ITV1's chatshow Paul O'Grady Live. What hit the headlines the next day was the singer revealing her bald head
Article Link:
Google News article
Why do gay people make such good talk show hosts, asks Tom Allen - Edinburgh Festivals
Google News - over 5 years
His is in addition to Friday night on television where all three prime-time chat shows hosts are gay (Graham Norton, Paul O'Grady and Alan Carr). Not to mention the longest serving chat show host of all time, Gay Byrne, who, although not gay,
Article Link:
Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Paul O'Grady
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2016
    Age 60
    In September 2016, O'Grady was recognised for his work with animals when he won the award for 'Outstanding Contribution to Animal Welfare' at the RSPCA's Animal Hero Awards.
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    In June 2016, O'Grady presented a 90-minute programme for Channel 4 called Paul O'Grady's 100 Years of Movie Musicals.
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    The series, called Paul O'Grady: The Sally Army & Me aired on Sunday evenings from 27 March until 1 May 2016.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 2015
    Age 59
    In December 2015, O'Grady appeared in Our Cilla, a one-off programme about the life of Cilla Black.
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    In 2015, O'Grady presented Bob Monkhouse: The Million Joke Man, a three-part factual series for Gold, exploring the life of comedian and presenter Bob Monkhouse.
    More Details Hide Details The show looked back over the life of entertainer Bob Monkhouse.
    In October 2015, following his work on Animal Orphans, O'Grady became a patron of Orangutan Appeal UK.
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    In September 2015, O'Grady's fourth book Open the Cage, Murphy was released.
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    In September 2015, it was announced that O'Grady would present a new six-part series for BBC One, following the work of The Salvation Army.
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  • 2014
    Age 58
    On 31 December 2014, O'Grady appeared in the one-off ITV documentary Rita & Me celebrating Barbara Knox's fifty years as Rita Tanner in Coronation Street.
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    In December 2014, O'Grady appeared as Santa Claus in a short Birds of a Feather sketch for ITV's Text Santa appeal.
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    In 2014, he appeared in a Gogglebox special for Stand Up to Cancer.
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  • 2013
    Age 57
    In November 2013, O'Grady suffered an angina attack and underwent further heart surgery.
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    On 16 October 2013, O'Grady presented The One and Only Cilla Black, a 90-minute ITV special celebrating Cilla Black's 50 years in show business.
    More Details Hide Details The show was later repeated shortly after Cilla Black's death in August 2015, with O'Grady presenting a short tribute to her to introduce the show.
    On 15 & 22 August 2013, O'Grady presented two-part BBC documentary series Paul O'Grady's Working Britain, which was nominated for a National Television Award in January 2014.
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    On 31 October 2013, O'Grady recorded a non-broadcast pilot for a BBC One sitcom called Led Astray, starring alongside Cilla Black.
    More Details Hide Details The show was not commissioned for a full series due to the pair's busy schedules.
    In 2013, O'Grady guest starred as cancer patient Tim Connor in three episodes of Holby City.
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    On 14 April 2013, O'Grady presented a documentary about burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee as part of ITV's Perspectives series.
    More Details Hide Details That month, he also presented ITV's British Animal Honours award ceremony.
    On 3 July 2013, O'Grady narrated the ITV documentary programme, Me and My Guide Dog following the work of Guide Dogs.
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    In April 2013, O'Grady expressed his support for the Labour Party, championing Labour leader Ed Miliband as a better candidate for UK Prime Minister than Conservative incumbent David Cameron.
    More Details Hide Details He lambasted the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government then in power, describing them as "absolutely disgusting. They have no idea what the common working man and woman are doing. They are not in touch with the working classes. They have led privileged lives – they've had public schools and have never been on the shop floor." O'Grady has supported philanthropic causes supporting carers. Since 2008, O'Grady has been an ambassador for Save the Children. In 2012, O'Grady became an ambassador for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home following his series For the Love of Dogs, which was filmed in the home. In 2013, he took part in the Pedigree Feeding Brighter Futures campaign with Amanda Holden, which aimed to give a million meals to rescue dogs nationwide. In 2014, O'Grady co-starred in a Dementia Friends TV advertisement campaign to raise awareness about the disease.
  • 2012
    Age 56
    In April 2012, O'Grady presented The One and Only Des O'Connor, a one-off special for ITV which looked back on the life of Des O'Connor.
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  • 2011
    Age 55
    In October 2011, O'Grady played Mr Slattery in a stage performance of Drama at Inish at the Finborough in Earl's Court.
    More Details Hide Details That month, ITV axed Paul O'Grady Live. O'Grady stated that ITV had asked him to return for a third series, but that he had refused, claiming that he had had enough of the chat show format. He remarked that he had become fed up with the "interference" from the show's producers and the fact that certain guests had appeared on air while under the influence of the illicit drug cocaine. O'Grady later commented that having to interview some A-list celebrities was akin to conversing with a "relative you felt obliged to visit." Since 3 September 2012, O'Grady has presented the ITV documentary series Paul O'Grady: For the Love of Dogs, covering life at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. O'Grady commented that he had wanted to do such a show for years and that he took to it with an "enthusiasm that surprised everyone except me". Although scheduled to initially film at the centre for six days, he stayed as a volunteer for six months. At the end of the first series, O'Grady was invited to become an ambassador of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and a bronze statue of his late dog, Buster, was erected on a plinth at the centre. He also adopted a dog from the home; a Jack Russell-Chihuahua cross named Eddy. In 2015, O'Grady stated that the show wouldn't return for any future series. Despite this claim, For the Love of Dogs returned for a fifth series of eight episodes, beginning in September 2016.
  • 2010
    Age 54
    O'Grady also voiced his support for student protesters who had occupied and vandalised the headquarters of the Conservative Party at Millbank Tower on 10 November 2010.
    More Details Hide Details There was so much interference. They'd want this guest or that guest. Every question had to go through the lawyers. The show was picked up for a second series from April to July 2011. A special devoted to American pop star Lady Gaga also aired; O'Grady described Gaga as a "thoroughly decent human being", and labelled himself one of her "greatest admirers." Straight after, O'Grady holidayed in China with Brazilian boyfriend André, visiting Shanghai, Hong Kong and Lhasa. O'Grady found himself caught up in the News International phone hacking scandal when police from Operation Weeting informed him that News of the World reporter Glenn Mulcaire had hacked his mobile phone. Disappointed, he decided not to sue.
    Ofcom received several complaints over the incident, though his Bambi quote was soon after quoted by Peter Taffe at the Socialism 2010 conference.
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  • 2009
    Age 53
    On 18 December 2009, Channel 4 broadcast the final episode of The Paul O'Grady Show, after 11 series.
    More Details Hide Details In 2005, Liverpool John Moores University awarded O'Grady an honorary fellowship for services to entertainment, and in 2010, he received an Honorary Doctor of Arts from De Montfort University, Leicester, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to television, radio and the stage. In the autumn of 2013, O'Grady began hosting a revival of his teatime chat show The Paul O'Grady Show on ITV. The series was produced by his own production company Olga TV filmed at The London Studios.
    Also in November 2009, O'Grady reunited with Yvette Fielding to take part in a 2 part paranormal investigation series called Death in Venice where he and Fielding investigated haunted locations in Venice.
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    On 30 November 2009, O'Grady was a guest presenter on GMTV Limited's GMTV with Lorraine, in celebration of Lorraine Kelly's 50th birthday.
    More Details Hide Details He has guest starred on Livings paranormal show, Most Haunted Live!, after presenter Yvette Fielding was a guest on his show and invited him on.
    On 14 October 2009, O'Grady agreed to an £8 million deal with ITV to host a Friday prime-time chat-show, to rival that of BBC One's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross from 2010, after budget talks broke down with Channel 4.
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    On Monday 21 September 2009, O'Grady returned to present the 11th (including ITV series) and final series of The Paul O'Grady Show.
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    On 6 June 2009, the Daily Mirror confirmed that O'Grady signed a new two-year contract with Channel 4 in autumn 2009 to keep his show on air until the end of 2011.
    More Details Hide Details However, Channel 4 told O'Grady that his show would face huge budget cuts, with his salary most likely halved.
  • 2008
    Age 52
    In September 2008, he appeared in a two-hour-long show, called Ghosthunting with Paul O'Grady & Friends, filmed in Sicily, with fellow Liverpudlians Jennifer Ellison, Philip Olivier and Natasha Hamilton.
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    On 28 June 2008, O'Grady appeared in the Doctor Who episode The Stolen Earth.
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    O'Grady has received a variety of awards, among them honorary degrees and an MBE in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment.
    More Details Hide Details O'Grady's father, Patrick "Paddy" Grady (died 1973), had grown up on a farm in Ballincurry, County Roscommon, Ireland, before moving to England in 1936, in search for work, settling down in the working class area of Birkenhead, Cheshire (now Merseyside). His name was changed from Grady to O'Grady in a paperwork mistake when he joined the Royal Air Force; he kept this altered name. Patrick married Mary Savage (1916–1988), born in England to Irish migrants from County Louth. Patrick and Mary were devout Catholics and brought up their children in the faith.
  • 2006
    Age 50
    In an interview with the Daily Mirror in 2006 O'Grady admitted that smoking 40 cigarettes a day had contributed to his two heart attacks.
    More Details Hide Details Publicly known for his "trenchant opinions", O'Grady is critical of the British Royal Family, having been raised by his father to view them as social parasites; the exception in his mind was Diana, Princess of Wales, whom he came to respect for her charitable work with those living with HIV/AIDS.
    In June 2006, O'Grady suffered a second massive heart attack while at his Kent home; he was taken to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where he underwent angioplasty surgery.
    More Details Hide Details Following the incident, he received around 7000 get-well-soon cards and letters from fans and well-wishers. He returned to work for the second series of The New Paul O'Grady Show in September, during which the show's viewing figures hit a new peak. To deal with his health issues, he began taking a week off mid-series, where he was replaced by guest presenters such as Cilla Black, Brian Conley, Lorraine Kelly, and Vernon Kay. The tabloids tried to re-ignite the "chat wars" by claiming a rivalry between O'Grady and other daytime television shows such as The Sharon Osbourne Show and The Brian Conley Show, but O'Grady refused to participate. He subsequently won the Ten Years at the Top award at the TV Quick and TV Choice awards.
  • FORTIES
  • 2005
    Age 49
    After a second series of The Paul O'Grady Show was commissioned, in March 2005 it was awarded Best Daytime Programme by the Royal Television Society, and O'Grady himself was subsequently awarded Best Entertainment Performance at the BAFTAs.
    More Details Hide Details In his personal life, O'Grady was devastated when his manager and best friend Brendan Murphy contracted brain cancer; O'Grady hid the diagnosis from the press and cared for Murphy at his Kent home; he later commented that "To watch someone you love, a healthy, eloquent man, unable to speak or walk is hideous." Murphy died aged 49, two days before O'Grady's fiftieth birthday, and was buried in the local Kentish churchyard. O'Grady subsequently became embroiled in legal arguments surrounding Murphy's will, although continued working to distract himself from his grief. In August 2005 a furore enveloped the show when it was publicly revealed that the staff member responsible for interviewing prospective child reporters had written derogatory notes on many of them, such as "I think he is special needs", "common and thick", and "Black girl: NO". O'Grady was on holiday when the story hit the tabloids, proceeding to offer a public apology, sending a card and flowers to those affected, and firing the staff member responsible.
  • 2004
    Age 48
    In winter 2004, O'Grady again performed in pantomime, this time in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the West End's Victoria Palace; his contract attracted attention due to the fact that he was being paid £70,000 a week in addition to profit-related bonuses.
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    The show first aired on October 2004 from 5-6pm and saw O'Grady interviewing celebrity guests, representing "a glorious mix of seemingly unscripted banter, chat and slapstick humour".
    More Details Hide Details In producing the show, O'Grady worked with many of his old friends, including warm-up man Andy Collins. The series was a hit, attaining between 2.5 and 2.7 million viewers daily, which was better than ITV had anticipated. According to O'Grady biographer Neil Simpson, "The show was unashamedly populist, a riotous, endearingly kitsch romp with no pretensions to be anything other than pure entertainment. In some ways it was pure vaudeville There were novelty acts, talking dogs, whistling goldfish, extraordinary stories. His audience laughed like drains at his anecdotes and were brought right into the heart of the show." The inclusion of his dog, Buster, on the show proved particularly popular with audiences. The show gained a devout following, with an "extraordinary hardcore of fans who try to be at as many recordings as possible", in many cases arriving at the studio gates two hours before the advertised starting time to get the best seats. O'Grady's biographer Neil Simpson commented on the crowds coming to see the show being recorded when he related that "Groups of middle aged women dominate – but they are joined by beautiful twenty-something women with flawless make-up, flash City boys with Louis Vuitton briefcases, hip-looking students out for a good time and pensioners just wanting a laugh in the afternoon." In many cases, fans queuing to see the show had to be turned away because too many had turned up, and for live shows as many as a hundred often had to be turned away.
    ITV executives deemed this such a success that they offered him his own daytime chat show, with news of his agreement going public in autumn 2004; the result would be The Paul O'Grady Show.
    More Details Hide Details There was initial press scepticism and concern that O'Grady's style of adult humour would not be appropriate for a daytime slot, but ITV's controller of entertainment, Mark Wells, declared that "Paul is one of the funniest people on television – he deserves to be on it far more than he is."
  • 2003
    Age 47
    O'Grady ended 2003 with a pantomime performance at the Bristol Hippodrome.
    More Details Hide Details There are always enough things in life to worry and get depressed about. O'Grady had gained experience as a daytime television presenter by standing in for Des O'Connor in nine episodes of ITV's lunchtime chat show Today with Des and Mel. Having got on well with co-presenter Melanie Sykes, he enjoyed the feeling of presenting live.
    Filming two pilot episodes in 2003, both O'Grady and the production team were unhappy with the result, with O'Grady leaving the project.
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    In 2003, O'Grady appeared in Celebrity Driving School, a BBC Comic Relief show in which he learned to drive alongside friends Nadia Sawalha and Jade Goody.
    More Details Hide Details He earned his driving licence shortly after the show culminated, and was nominated for a Best Television Moment of the Year Award for one of his tantrums on the show. He received an invite to appear on Gordon Ramsay's Hells Kitchen but declined, citing his strong dislike for reality television. He had also received various offers to star in a sitcom, a genre that he typically disliked. However, after reading the show's script, he agreed to appear in the new BBC sitcom Eyes Down. Set in a Merseyside bingo hall, he played the manager, Ray, humorously commenting that "He's an evil, twisted man who hates everything that moves. Not exactly a challenge for me". Screened in the prime Friday night slot at 9 pm, the show received poor and mediocre reviews although was popular with viewers, and was renewed for a second series. The BBC were also planning on reviving The Generation Game, and brought O'Grady in as its presenter.
  • 2002
    Age 46
    In April 2002, O'Grady suffered a heart attack, and was rushed to St. Thomas's Hospital in South London, where doctors attributed it to a combination of a congential family heart problems with stress, heavy smoking and caffeine.
    More Details Hide Details Spending several weeks recovering, he missed the Heritage Foundation Awards ceremony, where he was to be awarded television personality of the year award. Returning to work, he appeared as the Child Catcher in a twelve-week run of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, where he co-starred with Michael Ball and Brian Blessed. It was his first theatrical performance where his character was not largely based on Lily Savage, and earned him good reviews. He followed this with a pantomime performance as the Wicked Queen in Snow White at Manchester Opera House. O'Grady gave up smoking for two years after his first heart attack.
  • 2001
    Age 45
    He recovered in time to perform alongside Cilla Black and Barbara Windsor in a burlesque rendition of "You Gotta Have a Gimmick" at the 2001 Royal Variety Performance; the televised event attracted 11.5 million viewers.
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  • 2000
    Age 44
    This show also proved a success, earning O'Grady nominations for both the Best Comedy Entertainment Personality and Programme at the 2000 British Comedy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details However, O'Grady had tired of appearing as Lily, and decided to try to make a career for himself out of drag. He first appeared as himself in an advert campaign for Double Two shirt-makers, before he pitched a proposed six-part travelogue series to ITV, who agreed to part-fund it. The project resulted in Paul O'Grady's Orient, for which he travelled throughout East and Southeast Asia, visiting Shanghai, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Bangkok, Bali and Singapore. Although poorly received by the tabloid press, it achieved good ratings, and ITV commissioned a second series, Paul O'Grady's America, in which he visited New York City, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Again it received poor tabloid reviews. Although then believed to have assets totalling £4 million, O'Grady found that his newfound material wealth brought him little comfort and for a time suffered with clinical depression.
  • 1999
    Age 43
    Deciding on a move to the countryside, in 1999 O'Grady purchased a house in Aldington, Kent for £650,000 from comedian Vic Reeves, proceeding to decorate it in an art nouveau style and establish a smallholding in which to keep various animals.
    More Details Hide Details Screened on primetime Saturday night, Blankety Blank proved a ratings winner for the BBC, attracting an audience of 9 million. Rival company ITV then purchased it, offering O'Grady a two-year deal for £1 million. ITV let him be more risque in his use of humour on Blankety Blank, and also commissioned a new comedy series, Lily Live!
  • 1997
    Age 41
    They selected O'Grady to present the show in the role of Lily Savage, allowing him to ab lib rather than strictly follow a script, filming a pilot episode in 1997; after this pilot was a hit, they commissioned a full series.
    More Details Hide Details With his increased public profile, O'Grady was invited on to many other television chat shows, such as Richard and Judy, while in the guise of Lily, and agreed to appear in a Christmas special of cookery show Ready, Steady, Cook alongside his friend Barbara Windsor. Continuing with his theatre work, he went on an eight-week tour as Lily, before starring as Mrs Hannigan in a West End performance of the musical Annie, for which he appeared in six evening performances and two matinees per week. He subsequently accompanied the show on its tour of the UK, before appearing in a pantomime in Birmingham that winter.
  • 1996
    Age 40
    In April 1996, O'Grady filmed a performance at the LWT Tower as An Evening with Lily Savage, broadcast on ITV in November.
    More Details Hide Details A hit, it attracted 11.2 million viewers and earned an award for Best Entertainment Program at the 1997 National Television Awards, although was publicly criticised as being bawdy and in bad taste by both the Daily Mail and the drag queen Danny La Rue. ITV then offered him a weekly show that would air on Wednesdays at 8 pm, although O'Grady turned down the offer, believing that the pre-watershed slot would force him to drastically alter his act into a form of light entertainment. With Murphy he then established a production company, known as Widlflower. Returning to theatre, he performed The Lily Savage Show for a sixteen-week sell-out run at the North Pier Theatre in Blackpool, and after a month break returned to the town to perform Lily's Christmas Cracker at the Blackpool Opera House. At this juncture, he agreed to appear as Lily in a series of adverts for the Ford Escort, earning him £150,000, and would subsequently appear in ad campaigns for Pretty Polly tights and a bingo company. O'Grady had earned a substantial sum of money through these performances, enabling him to move out of his Vauxhall council flat and into a luxury apartment near to Tower Bridge in central London. Through contacts made in showbusiness, he became friends with many A-list celebrities, among them Elton John and Cher.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1994
    Age 38
    At the time, O'Grady had been making greater attempts to get to know his teenage daughter; both her existence and that of O'Grady's wife were discovered by the Daily Mirror tabloid, who treated them as a headline scandal in autumn 1994.
    More Details Hide Details Critical of the media, O'Grady condemned them for solely referring to him as a drag queen; he commented that "Barry Humphries is never called a drag act because he's a heterosexual male. But I'm called one because I'm a gay man. It's homophobic and it's wrong as there is nothing remotely sexual about what I do. I dress up as a woman for financial purposes, nothing else."
    Reflecting his increasing success in mainstream British comedy, in 1994 he was nominated for both Top Live Stand-Up Comedian and Top Television Comedy Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details Some in the South London gay scene from which O'Grady emerged were critical of where he had taken his career, accusing him of being a sell out; O'Grady fiercely denied these accusations, stating that "I've done nearly ten years on the factory floor and now I feel I deserve a shot in the office." After Paula Yates resigned as presenter of the Channel 4 morning television program The Big Breakfast, its production company Planet 24 employed O'Grady to replace her. He was initially commissioned to present the show, to be termed Lie-in with Lily, for four weeks in what was to be treated as a trial run. As Lily, O'Grady ignored the suggested questions of PR agents, instead asked personal questions of his guests, in doing so attracting a 30% share of the morning audience, with 2 million viewers; realising his popularity, Planet 24 renewed his contract to keep him on as presenter. However, O'Grady found the early morning starts difficult to deal with, particularly as he had signed up to appear as Lily in a musical version of Prisoner in Cell Block H at the Queen's Theatre in London's West End. Juggling both rehearsals and The Big Breakfast proved incredibly exhausting for O'Grady. When the musical went on a tour of the UK, O'Grady accompanied it, taking a break from The Big Breakfast to do so.
    Given top billing at the LGB rights charity Stonewall's 1994 Equality Show in Albert Hall, he also played the role of Nancy in the London Palladium's performance of the musical Oliver!
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    In October 1994, he was invited on to an episode of BBC television series The Steve Wright People Show as Lily, where he proved popular and was invited back for a later episode.
    More Details Hide Details In November, he made a cameo as Lily in the soap Brookside, while he was also invited to guest present an episode of BBC music show Top of the Pops as Lily. Employed to narrate the BBC 2 series Life Swaps, which with low ratings was not renewed for a second series, he was also given his own late-night Channel 4 series, Live from the Lilydrome, which was filmed in a working men's club in Blackpool.
  • 1993
    Age 37
    Also moving into film, he travelled to Dublin, Ireland to play the role of an inmate in the 1993 film In the Name of the Father; although not in the Lily character, he was credited as "Paul Savage".
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  • 1990
    Age 34
    In 1990 he appeared in the ITV miniseries Chimera as Tony Donaldson, a social worker skilled in signing for the deaf; during filming he became friends with co-star Liza Tarbuck.
    More Details Hide Details He followed this with a performance as Marlene Dietrich in an episode of Rik Mayall's ITV comedy The New Statesman. After leaving the RVT, O'Grady continued to tour as Lily and released VHS videos of his performances. After gaining further public exposure through an appearance on the popular late-night Channel 4 comedy show Viva Cabaret!, he was invited to appear on an episode of BBC quiz show That's Showbusiness. Travelling to the Manchester studio where it was filmed, he accidentally left his Lily costume on the train, subsequently appearing on the show out of character. Moving into radio, as Lily, he began making regular appearances on Woman's Hour and Loose Ends.
  • 1988
    Age 32
    O'Grady obtained his breakthrough into television when he played the character of a transvestite prostitute informant, Roxanne, in three episodes of ITV's police drama The Bill between 1988 and 1990.
    More Details Hide Details Just before filming on the first episode, O'Grady's mother died and he proceeded to return her house to the landlord.
    In April 1988 he took part in a 30,000 strong march against Section 28, a policy introduced by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher that the gay community denounced as homophobic.
    More Details Hide Details Regularly doing charity fundraisers for HIV/AIDS research, many of his friends died as a result of AIDS-related complications. In 2015 O’Grady said "I’ve lost about everybody I know", and talked about having to pretend to some of their families that they were dying of cancer as he nursed them. "People my age will never get over the horrors." He performed in a play about the disease at the King's Head Theatre in Islington; it was there that he befriended co-star Amanda Mealing.
    In 1988, he performed as Madame in The Scythe of Reason, and appeared at the Glasgow Mayfest, where he developed a lifelong friendship with actor Ian McKellen.
    More Details Hide Details From 1989 to 1992, O'Grady performed annually as Lily at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, gaining increasing recognition for his act. As a result, he was nominated for the 1991 Perrier Award alongside Jack Dee, Eddie Izzard, and Frank Skinner, although the latter ultimately won the award. O'Grady followed this with a show titled Lily Savage Live from the Hackney Empire, which proved to be a sell-out and which was the first time that his performance was recorded. O'Grady used his act to publicly speak out against the treatment of Britain's LGBT community by the mainstream media, government and police, particularly during the HIV/AIDS crisis that hit the community during that decade. On a number of occasions, police raided pubs that he was working at; he was quoted in the Capital Gay newspaper as calling on LGBT people to riot against their mistreatment.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1985
    Age 29
    In February 1985 he obtained his own council flat in Vauxhall's Victoria Mansions, moving in with his pet cats and friend Vera.
    More Details Hide Details During the mid-1980s, O'Grady met Brendan Murphy, known as "Murph" or "Murphy" to his friends, who was the manager of a gay sauna near the Oval, Kennington, and they entered into a long-term relationship. Murphy would subsequently become O'Grady's manager. Eventually appearing at the RVT three times a week, on Sundays O'Grady began performing at the Union Tavern in Camberwell and the Goldsmith's Tavern in New Cross, where he often preceded Vic Reeves' three-hour show Vic Reeves Big Night Out. On a number of occasions he performed at the Madame JoJo's club in Soho. Quitting his council work, he focused full-time on his career as Lily, taking his act across the United Kingdom and also abroad to countries like Israel and Finland. Befriending American drag queen Divine and his manager Bernard Jay, Jay booked O'Grady to appear in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As Divine had done, O'Grady also recorded his own Hi-NRG song, "Tough at the Top", which was produced by DJ Ian Levine.
  • 1984
    Age 28
    In 1984, O'Grady began work as a barman at the Elephant and Castle, a Vauxhall gay pub.
    More Details Hide Details As Lily, he became compere of Ladies Night every Tuesday, where amateur drag acts would perform. As compere, he tried out comedy routines, becoming known for insulting both the acts and the audience, describing it as "one of the best times of my life." Becoming increasingly popular, the show began attracting crowds and he was interviewed by artist Patrick Procktor. After six months, O'Grady transferred his act to the nearby Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) gay pub, whose manager offered him £50 a show over the £15 that the Elephant and Castle paid; he re-opened his show on Thursday nights as "Stars of the Future".
  • 1983
    Age 27
    Moving into the Victoria Mansions flats in Vauxhall, in March 1983 he joined the Equity union, allowing him to take a role in the theatrical adaptation of If They'd Asked for a Lion Tamer at the Donmar Warehouse.
    More Details Hide Details The Playgirls gained bookings to appear across London, and also in Amsterdam and Copenhagen; O'Grady and Hush joined with drag artist David Dale to form an act known as "LSD", which stood for "Lily, Sandra and Doris", devising an act that parodied Andy Pandy, they gained bookings across London and in Edinburgh.
  • 1981
    Age 25
    Amid mass unemployment, O'Grady briefly lived off the dole before resurrecting the Playgirls with his friend Vera; initially performing in Liverpool, where they were caught up in the 1981 Toxteth riots, they began touring other parts of Northern England until deciding to quit and return to London.
    More Details Hide Details Returning to work as a support worker for Camden Council Social Services, O'Grady began caring for an old woman who lived several doors down from serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Regularly moving flats, from Vauxhall to Brixton and then Battersea, he was reunited with Hush, and they began performing as the Playgirls again, devising an act based upon the cult film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? At the end of the year, he appeared as an Ugly Sister in a drag pantomime of Cinderella.
  • 1978
    Age 22
    His debut was on the afternoon of 7 October 1978 at The Black Cap gay pub in Camden, where his act involved miming the words to Barbra Streisand's "Nobody Makes a Pass at Me" from the show Pins and Needles.
    More Details Hide Details Following a holiday to Poland, he visited an ex-boyfriend in Manila in the Philippines; he found Manila to be a "culture shock", but briefly worked as a barman and waiter at a brothel known as Gussie's Bar. Returning to London, O'Grady moved to Purley and then Streatham with a drag act, the Glamazons. With one of them, nicknamed "Hush", he founded a two-man drag mime act, the Playgirls, although found little work in London. Agreeing to a tour of the North of England, they moved to Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, also accepting a month's work at a club in Copenhagen, Denmark. Living up north, they diversified their act, with O'Grady performing a striptease while wearing a fat suit he named "Biddy", also learning fire eating from a hotel manager in Bradford. Fed up with the poor living conditions, Hush returned to London, leading O'Grady to continue his drag performance as a solo act under the name of "Paul Monroe", a reference to Marilyn Monroe. Ultimately finding himself under too much financial strain, O'Grady moved back in with his mother in Birkenhead, there becoming reacquainted with Diane and his daughter.
  • 1977
    Age 21
    From 1977 to 2005, he was in a marriage of convenience with Portuguese lesbian Teresa Fernandes, although was not in a relationship with her.
    More Details Hide Details His long-term lover and business partner was Brendan Frank Murphy (4 March 1956 – 9 June 2005). Known to many friends as "Lily" or "Lil", O'Grady is publicly known for having had many high profile and celebrity friends, including the politician Mo Mowlam, actresses Amanda Mealing and Barbara Windsor, comedian Brenda Gilhooly and the late Cilla Black. O'Grady divides his time between his Central London flat and his rural Kentish farmhouse. There he grows organic fruit and vegetables, and a variety of herbs, having a keen interest in herbalism. A lifelong animal lover, as a child O'Grady kept rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, a ferret and a rat as pets; he has commented that his mother thought him "a bit weird" as a result. At his Kentish farm, he owned sheep, pigs, goats, donkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, ferrets, bats, mice, and dogs. Two of O'Grady's pet dogs became well known to the British public through appearances on The Paul O'Grady Show; the first was Buster Elvis Savage, a Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise cross. A rescue dog, Buster was euthanised in November 2009 after a struggle with cancer. O'Grady dedicated the second volume of his autobiography to Buster, describing him as "The greatest canine star since Lassie." A second dog, the Cairn Terrier Olga, also attracted attention; in 2013 it was revealed that she was undergoing chemotherapy as treatment for cancer.
    Moving again to London, he rented a flat in Crouch End and began busking with a friend in Camden Town before obtaining a job as a physiotherapist's assistant at the Royal Northern Hospital. Made redundant by public sector cuts, O'Grady took up a job at a gay club called the Showplace, befriending Portuguese lesbian Theresa Fernandes; in May 1977, they legally married to prevent her deportation, although eventually lost contact, only gaining a divorce in 2005.
    More Details Hide Details Taking up jobs as a cleaner and a waiter at private functions, he began working for Camden Council as a peripatetic care officer, living in with elderly people or dysfunctional families which had a lasting effect on him for many years to come. The truth, I realise now, is that Lily owes a lot to the women I encountered in my childhood. While working for Camden Social Services, O'Grady made his first attempt at putting together a drag act, creating the character of Lily Savage; he later related that "I wanted to get up there but be larger than life, a creature that was more cartoon than human. I wasn't sure yet."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1974
    Age 18
    Following the birth of his daughter, Sharon Lee Jansen, on 16 May 1974, O'Grady agreed to pay £3 per week towards her upkeep, but refused to marry Diane, recognising his homosexuality.
    More Details Hide Details Briefly working as an assistant clerk at Liverpool Magistrates' Court, O'Grady subsequently worked as a barman at Yates's Wine Lodge, supplementing the income with the occasional night at the Bear's Paw. Realising this wage was insufficient to support both himself and his daughter, he travelled to London, lodging in Westbourne Green, but found only poorly paid work as a barman. In London, he began associating with drag queens, particularly a couple who used the stage name of the Harlequeens. Although making friends in the city, O'Grady was homesick and returned home. Employed as an accountant in a FMC Meats Merseyside abattoir, he then gained employment at the Children's Convalescent Home and School in West Kirby, a home for disabled and abused children; he worked here for three years. Entering into a relationship with an older man named Norman, O'Grady moved into his house in Littlehampton; their relationship was strained, both cheating on one another, and it broke apart.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1955
    Born
    O'Grady was their third child, born at 7:30 am on 14 June 1955 at St. Catherine's Hospital, Tranmere.
    More Details Hide Details His birth, over a decade after that of siblings Brendan (b. 1941) and Sheila (b. 1944), was not planned; his mother was 39 and discovered the pregnancy only when visiting the doctor complaining of indigestion. O'Grady spent his early life at the family's rented home of 23 Holly Grove, Higher Tranmere, Birkenhead, a house built in a former quarry during the early 1930s; O'Grady remarked that the house was always damp and cold, suffering from "ominous cracks" which "would appear in the walls and ceilings overnight". Our family was loving and full of affection. I never knew what divorce was until I moved to London. Attending St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School, O'Grady excelled in all subjects but maths. Hoping that he had a good future ahead of him, his parents budgeted to send him to a private school, the Catholic-run Redcourt, but his grades dropped. Failing the eleven plus exam, to his mother's dismay he was unable to enter a grammar school, instead attending the Blessed Edmund Campion R.C. Secondary Modern and the Corpus Christi High School, where O'Grady experienced his first homosexual encounter, enjoying a brief romance with another boy, although still assumed he was heterosexual.
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