Entertainment

Paul O’Grady: The life of a beloved star in pictures

To some, he was Lily Savage, the alter-ego who launched him on his path to becoming a household name.

To others, he was the animal lover and campaigner, a man who worked tirelessly to help rescue dogs through his work with the Battersea rehoming charity.

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And to millions more, he was Paul O’Grady, the beloved presenter who brought warmth and wit to teatime TV.

Here is a look back at his life and career in pictures.

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After launching his drag queen persona Lily Savage in London’s gay scene in the 1980s, O’Grady first appeared on our screens as Roxanne, an informant of DS Ted Roach, in three episodes of The Bill in 1989. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock
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He had been using the name Paul Savage, his mother’s maiden name, before his alter-ego Lily became popular in the 1990s
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O’Grady as Savage, pictured with fellow comedian Julian Clary at London’s Gay Pride festival in 1993. ‘Farewell to my fierce and funny friend. I’m going to miss you,’ Clary said in his tribute. Pic: Rick Colls/Shutterstock
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The character, a platinum-haired prostitute and shoplifter with an acerbic wit, had many celeb fans – here she is pictured with Elton John and Sting at the Royal Albert Hall’s first Stonewall Equality show in 1994. Pic: Brendan Beirne/Shutterstock

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From ‘council flat’ to comedy awards, the character was soon picking up prizes – in 1997, O’Grady’s An Evening With Lily Savage was named best entertainment show at the British Comedy Awards (pictured with Steve Coogan)
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O’Grady, as Lily Savage, was announced as the star of the musical Annie, playing child-hating orphanage boss Miss Hannigan, in 1998. It was a role he would reprise in later years
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The presenter and comedian was always a favourite at the TV Quick awards in the 2000s – here he is pictured with Samantha Robson (The Bill) and Tracy Shaw (Coronation Street) at London’s Dorchester Hotel
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Another one from the TV Quick awards the following year, celebrating with Martin Kemp and Alan Titchmarsh
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Lily Savage performed as the Wicked Queen in Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London, in 2004
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O’Grady was good friends with Cilla Black (pictured at Attitude’s 10th anniversary in 2004). Following her death in 2015, O’Grady paid tribute to a ‘true daughter of Liverpool’ at her funeral – and later picked up the baton for hosting Blind Date
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The star, who was born in Birkenhead, received an honorary fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University for services to entertainment, in 2005
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He was also named best comedy entertainment personality at the British Comedy Awards that year, and picked up the gong from Sex Pistols and PiL star John Lydon
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More awards followed throughout 2005…
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… including a BAFTA
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O’Grady received an MBE from the then Prince Charles, now the King, at Buckingham Palace in 2008, for services to entertainment
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A huge fan of The Avengers, O’Grady joined star Honor Blackman for the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2011
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O’Grady was a friend of the now Queen Consort, who paid tribute to a ‘brilliant’ comedian and ‘fearless’ campaigner following his death
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As well as his TV work, O’Grady was known for his love of dogs and an ambassador for the Battersea rehoming centre. ‘We cannot thank him enough for everything he did for our charity and for rescue animals worldwide’, the charity said in its tribute
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His show, For The Love Of Dogs, set at Battersea, was named best factual entertainment programme at the National Television Awards that year (pictured with presenters Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman)
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He also teamed up with fellow dog-loving celeb Amanda Holden to raise awareness of the plight of rescue dogs as part of Pedigree’s Feeding Brighter Futures campaign
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The star and a corgi, of course, also hosted the Queen during a visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in 2015
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The star launched The Paul O’Grady show in 2004, and it aired on-and-off between ITV and Channel 4 until 2015
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‘I know he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years’: O’Grady and his partner Andre Portasio married in a low-key wedding ceremony in 2017 and lived in Kent with their animals including four dogs, sheep and goats
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Most recently, O’Grady had reprised the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie The Musical, performing in Edinburgh just a few days before his death. Pic: Paul Coltas

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