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Paul O'Grady
Paul O'Grady, April 2009 cropped.jpg
Birth name Paul James Michael O'Grady
Born 14 June 1955 (1955-06-14) (age 54)
Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Medium Actor, author, writer, comedian, radio DJ and television presenter
Nationality British
Years active 1988–present
Spouse Teresa Fernandes (1977–2004) (divorced)
Domestic partner(s) Brendan Murphy (1985–2005) (his death)
Andre Portasio (2005–present)[1]
Notable works and roles The Paul O'Grady Show (ITV/Channel 4)
Blankety Blank (BBC/ITV)
BAFTA Awards
Television Award for Best Entertainment Performance
2004 The Paul O'Grady Show (2008). His other works include

Paul James Michael O'Grady (born 6 January 1955) is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter and radio DJ most famous for his work in the The Paul O'Grady Show (2006) and Lily Live! (2000), and the comedy sitcom Eyes Down (2004) also his other work includes Blankety Blank (1997). and other independent productions.


Early life and career

O'Grady was born to Patrick and Mary O'Grady in Birkenhead. The family lived in suburban Tranmere, Merseyside. His family were devout Roman Catholics, originally from County Roscommon, Ireland.[2] Until the age of 11 he attended Redcourt, the junior school attached to St Anselm's College, after which he attended Blessed Edward Campion R.C. Secondary Modern.

His jobs have included civil servant, barman for Yates Wine Lodge, office work in an abattoir, woodsman and, for a time, as an assistant clerk at Liverpool Magistrates' Court.[3] He also worked in a children's home in West Kirby and spent some years as a peripatetic care officer for Camden council.[citation needed]

Lily Savage

O'Grady's alter-ego, Lily Savage

Lilian May Veronica Savage is a fictional prostitute and the ultra-ego of comedian O'Grady. In 1977, O'Grady went to Manila where he worked as a waiter in Gussy's Bar. While he was working in Manila, O'Grady came up with the idea for Lily Savage, his drag alter-ego. He returned to London in the early 1980s and subsequently achieved fame with his creation of Lily, initially playing to gay clubs and pubs up and down the country. He performed many times at the Goldsmith's Tavern, New Cross where he'd often precede Vic Reeves' three-hour show Vic Reeves Big Night Out before promptly leaving to do a show elsewhere. O'Grady's Lily was best known at the time for an eight-year residency at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in south London. As Lily Savage, O'Grady was also in several acts which toured Europe. After appearing at The Edinburgh Festival and gaining a Perrier Award nomination, O'Grady's Lily Savage act became more mainstream and the character became popular on television, making appearances on the ITV daytime programme This Morning and as the 'On the Bed Presenter' on The Big Breakfast. For a few years O'Grady hosted the game show Blankety Blank as Lily Savage, for the BBC and later for ITV. There was also a comedy show built around the character, Lily Live!, appearing on ITV in 2000. Performing as Lily, O'Grady also co-hosted the 1996 Smash Hits Poll Winners Party with Ant & Dec.

O'Grady retired the Lily Savage character around 2004. He claimed she had "seen the light, taken the veil and packed herself off to a convent in France" but on his TV show, he said, "she's escaped the convent and she's heading towards these shores!". On 23 May 2008 on the 500th edition of The Paul O'Grady Show, guest star Julie Goodyear told O'Grady that Bet Lynch, the character she played in television soap opera Coronation Street, had joined Savage in the French convent. On the 7 October 2009 episode of The Paul O'Grady Show, after being prompted by Martin Clunes to "bring Lily back", O'Grady said he could not because she had been "bricked up in a chimney" by the Mother Superior of the convent.

Television career

Following the success of Lily Savage, O'Grady played a prostitute snout, Roxanne, in several episodes of The Bill between 1988 and 1990; in 1990 he appeared in the ITV miniseries Chimera as Tony Donaldson, a social worker skilled in signing for the deaf.

Abandoning drag, to portray himself, in 2000 he appeared in a six-part travelogue series entitled Paul O'Grady's Orient, filmed in Shanghai, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Bangkok, Bali and Singapore. This was followed in 2001 by Paul O'Grady's America.

From 2002 onwards, he appeared less as Lily and more often as himself. In 2002 he presented Outtake TV, a bloopers show, and in 2003 starred as the lead character in the BBC sitcom Eyes Down for two series, as the manager of a northern Bingo hall. He also appeared in Celebrity Driving School for the BBC.

Since then, he has presented his own early evening talk show, The Paul O'Grady Show, on ITV. He won the position after he stood in for Des O'Connor on the now defunct lunchtime celebrity chat show Today with Des and Mel. The Paul O'Grady Show ran head to head with Richard and Judy, who are close friends of O'Grady, and gave him one of his first TV breaks on This Morning on ITV back in the early 90's. He has guest starred on Living's paranormal show, Most Haunted Live!, after presenter Yvette Fielding was a guest on his show and invited him on. He holds many awards, and in December 2005 he won the Best TV Comedy Entertainment Personality category of the British Comedy Awards. In 2005, he won a BAFTA and is also the recipient of two Royal Television Society and three National Television Awards.

On 27 March 2006, O'Grady began hosting his talk show on Channel 4, now called The Paul O'Grady Show (previously The New Paul O'Grady Show).

The fourth Channel 4 series (seventh series when including the three original ITV series) started on 17 September 2007. On 24 August the Daily Mirror revealed that O'Grady had rejected a £5 million deal to return to ITV as the "New Parkinson."[citation needed] Instead he signed a £4 million deal to remain with Channel 4 until the end of 2009.[citation needed]

On 28 June 2008, O'Grady appeared in the Doctor Who episode The Stolen Earth.[4]

On 6 June 2009, the Daily Mirror confirmed that O'Grady will sign a new two year contract with Channel 4 in the Autumn of 2009 to keep his show on air until the end of 2011. However Channel 4 have told O'Grady that his show will face huge budget cuts, and his salary will most likely be halved.[5]

On Monday 21 September 2009, O'Grady returned to present the 11th (including ITV series) and final series of The Paul O'Grady Show.[6]

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.[6]

On 30 November 2009, O'Grady was a guest presenter on ITV's "GMTV with Lorraine", in celebration of Lorraine Kelly's 50th birthday.

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 is Venice. The episodes were called Vampire Island and Demonic Doctor.

On 18 December 2009, Channel 4 broadcast the final ever episode of The Paul O'Grady Show, after 11 series which started in 2004. Guests included in the final line up were, JLS, Beverley Callard, Catherine Tate, William Roache, Linda Thorson, Honor Blackman, Joe McFadden, Natalie Cassidy, Scott Maslan, Kate Thornton and Mel Sykes.


As well as numerous national tours, O'Grady has appeared on stage in Prisoner Cell Block H - The Musical, the musical Annie as "Miss Hannigan" (as Lily Savage), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as "the Childcatcher" and in the pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as the "Wicked Queen". He has been quoted as saying "I seem to be making a living frightening children". O'Grady announced on 18 October 2009 that he would be doing pantomime again in 2009-10 in Wimbledon.

Radio work

O'Grady made his radio debut on 12 April 2003, when he stood in for Jonathan Ross to present the Saturday morning show on BBC Radio 2. Then, later in December 2003, O'Grady presented a two-part documentary about Cilla Black's illustrious career, with contributions from Black's other celebrity friends. O'Grady then presented his own radio show for the first time on Christmas Day afternoon of that year.

On 28 December 2003, O'Grady chose the tracks on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Paul voiced many adverts for other local radio stations.

O'Grady returned to Radio 2 on Easter Saturday 2006, with his very own live 3-hour special radio show. The show featured special guests and celebrity chat, the best music and a whole host of games and competitions. O'Grady also taste-tested a selection of the finest Easter Eggs in a search for Britain's Best.

O'Grady then stood in for Elaine Paige on her Sunday radio show Elaine Paige on Sunday for two weeks, on 28 January and 4 February 2007. John Barrowman then took over from O'Grady for the following two weeks, before Paige returned.

O'Grady returned with his own show on Easter Monday 2007 from 2.00pm - 4.00pm. The show featured special guests and celebrity chat, the best music and a whole host of games and competitions.

In January 2008, O'Grady once again presented Elaine Paige on Sunday, on 13, 20 and 27 January. He sat in for her once again on 31 August, and again on 9 November.

On Christmas 2008, O'Grady returned to Radio 2 with his own show The Paul O'Grady Christmas Show, featuring a seasonal mix of Christmas music and some of the biggest hits of the year, including music from McFly and Girls Aloud.

O'Grady then presented a two-part documentary on New Year's Eve and New Years Day 2008 on Radio 2, which was a tribute to Bill Cotton.

From 22 February 2009, O'Grady returned to Elaine Paige on Sunday to present the show for a month, whilst Paige was on tour.

And then, finally, after 6 years, O'Grady was given his own show on BBC Radio 2 entitled Paul O'Grady On The Wireless, each Sunday 5.00pm - 7.00pm.[7]

O'Grady once again presented a Christmas Day show, this year at 11.00am on Christmas morning. Like The Paul O'Grady Christmas Show that he presented last year, the show featured a round-up of the nation's favourite pantos. There was also a Christmas Motown Triple, a Carpenters Christmas Triple, and Christmas Thank Yous.

Personal life

O'Grady at Wendy Richard's funeral service in March 2009

O'Grady is openly gay but has previously had relationships with women, and was once married to a female Portuguese friend in a marriage of convenience. He is now very close to his daughter Sharyn, who married her childhood friend Philip Mousley at Liverpool Town Hall on 30 July 2005. His long-term lover and business partner of 20 years was Irishman Brendan Murphy, who died of cancer on 9 June 2005, five days before O'Grady's fiftieth birthday. After the first show of series three of The Paul O'Grady Show, there was a tribute to him.

O'Grady owns a flat in London, and a farm in Aldington near Ashford, Kent where his neighbour is Julian Clary[citation needed]. The farm is stocked with 32 animals, including a flock of geese which O'Grady refers to as the "Geese-stapo" (a pun on the Gestapo).[8] O'Grady had a grey Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise crossbreed dog called Buster, who was euthanised on 19 November 2009[9] after he was found to have cancer.[10] A spokeswoman said "Buster had been suffering and in a lot of pain. Putting him down was the kind thing to do."[11] This came a few days after O'Grady announced on his show that Buster was 'in retirement' after viewers had asked if Buster had been given away, as Buster frequently appeared on his TV show with him, but has recently been replaced by one of O'Grady's other dogs, Olga, a Cairn Terrier after whom O'Grady named his recently formed production company, 'Olga TV'.[10] He also has another dog called Louie, who only appeared a few times in the first ITV series (mainly due to his bad behaviour), before he adopted Olga live on air.[8] On 29 September 2009, O'Grady adopted a puppy called Bullseye, who appeared on his show after much nagging from the crowd.

O'Grady became a grandfather on 26 December 2006, when his daughter Sharyn gave birth to a son, Abel. He revealed on his show on Wednesday 2 December 2009 that he has become a grandfather again as Sharyn had given birth to a 9 lb 8oz baby girl in the early hours of that morning.[12] O'Grady is currently in a relationship.[13]



In April 2002, O'Grady suffered a heart attack after weeks of complaining that he felt unwell; after an emergency operation and weeks of rest, his health recovered and he gave up smoking for two years.[citation needed] O'Grady went back to his 40-a-day habit after his lover and business partner Brendan Murphy died in 2005; he had continued to work on the show at the same time as nursing Murphy. He suffered a second heart attack on 30 June 2006;[14] again he was taken to the William Harvey Hospital and into intensive care. He was given an angioplasty operation before being moved to a cardiac unit. He was released on 4 July and again promised to give up smoking.[15] He therefore postponed the new series of his show from 4 September to the end of the month. The delayed second series started on Monday 18 September 2006.

Recognition and awards

In 2003 O'Grady was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy,[16] and in 2006 he was listed by The Independent at number 32 in their 101 most influential gay men and women in Britain.[17]

In October 2008 he was appointed MBE in the 2008 Birthday Honours list for services to entertainment.[18][19]


In 2008, O'Grady released an autobiography, At My Mother's Knee... And Other Low Joints.

TV credits

  • The Paul O'Grady Show (2006)
  • Lily Live! (2000)
  • Blankety Blank (2002)
  • GMTV With Lorraine (2009)
  • Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (2009)
  • Doctor Who (2008)
  • British Comedy Awards (2005)
  • National Television Awards (2009)
  • The Bill (1988)
  • Chimera (1990)
  • Outtake TV (2002)
  • Celebrity Driving School (2003)
  • Parkinson (2006)
  • Paul O'Grady's America (2001)
  • Most Haunted Live! (2009)


  1. ^ O'Grady collects MBE
  2. ^ Neil Simpson (2008). Paul O'Grady: The Biography. John Blake. ISBN 1844545776. 
  3. ^ "Patrick Kielty Almost Live". Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  4. ^ Simon Reynolds (20 February 2008). "Paul O'Grady to appear in Doctor Who". Digital Spy. Retrieved 18 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Nicola Methven (6 June 2009). "Savage cuts for Paul O'Grady chat show". Mirror. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Kilkelly, Daniel. "Paul O'Grady 'agrees to ITV return'". Retrieved 14 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Paul O'Grady". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "The Paul O'Grady Show - The Farm Animals". Channel 4. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  9. ^ "Paul O'Grady's dog Buster dies of cancer". Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  10. ^ a b "The Paul O'Grady Show - Buster and Olga". Channel 4. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  11. ^ Holmwood, Leigh. "O’Grady agony as Buster is put down". The Sun. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  12. ^ "Paul O'Grady: I really do enjoy being a doting grandad". Retrieved 28 April 2008. 
  13. ^ "Entertainer O'Grady collects MBE". BBC News. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  14. ^ "O'Grady is admitted to hospital". BBC News. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  15. ^ Sara Nathan (4 July 2006). "I really will give up cigs". The Sun.,,2-2006300584,00.html. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  16. ^ "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". 7 December 2003.,11710,1101525,00.html. Retrieved 3 July 2007. 
  17. ^ Andrew Tuck (2 July 2006). "Gay Power: The pink list". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2007. 
  18. ^ "TV entertainers head honours list". BBC News. 14 June 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2008. 
  19. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58729, p. 21, 14 June 2008.

External links

Preceded by
Les Dawson
Host of Blankety Blank
Succeeded by


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