The beloved comedian and presenter Paul O’Grady has died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ aged sixty-seven, the BBC reports.
He first rose to fame during the 1990s with his drag act persona, the iconic Lily Savage. As Savage, he presented many well-known TV shows including Blankety Blank and The Big Breakfast. Savage even got her own show, Lily Live!, in 2000.
Later on in O’Grady’s life, he became a mainstay of early evening TV with his The Paul O’Grady Show that ran for a whopping fifteen seasons throughout the early 2000s.
He then went on to star in Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, set at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home that was a fan favourite on the screen.
In a statement, O’Grady’s husband, Andre Portasio, announced his tragic passing at the age of sixty-seven.
“It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening,” he wrote.
“He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion.
“I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”
Tributes have been pouring in for the star throughout the morning.
“I loved Paul O’ Grady and I loved Lily Savage. He was in the trenches fighting for our community during the HIV & AIDS epidemic. Lily Savage was a genius & subversive creation that managed to reach mainstream audiences – the impact of which was transformative. RIP & thank you,” one person wrote.
Another said: “Saw Paul O’Grady way back in the day as Lily – always had a smile, a friendly word and a hug for me over the years that followed. Absolute gutted he’s gone. RIP x.”
While a third wrote: “A genuine icon, a trailblazer in so many ways. Paul O’ Grady was someone that brought so much joy, his wit and craft as Lily Savage was just genius. Not just a brilliant entertainer but someone who thought for the rights for queer people and those living with HIV.”
Rest in peace Paul O’Grady.