Paul O’Grady has died aged 67, his partner Andre Portasio has said.
A statement shared with the PA news agency via a representative said the TV presenter and comedian died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday evening.
Mr Portasio said in his statement: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.”
“We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.
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“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.”
In 2017, O’Grady and Portasio got married with a low-key wedding ceremony.
During his TV career, he hosted The Paul O’Grady Show, Blind Date and Blankety Blank, as well as ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.
He was also host of the ITV celebrity game show, Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up.
O’Grady took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla Black, who died in 2015, as he hosted the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017.
He was known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage.
In 2022, the Queen Consort joined him in a special one-off episode of For The Love Of Dogs to mark 160 years of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organisation for which he was an ambassador.
O’Grady’s love for animals was clear to see and he had lived in a farmhouse in Kent with Portasio along with four dogs, goats, sheep, chickens and barn owls.
He wrote his debut children’s book, Eddie Albert And The Amazing Animal Gang, during the coronavirus lockdown and it was published in September 2021.
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In August of 2022, he presented his final BBC Radio 2 show having hosted the Sunday afternoon programme for nearly 14 years.
O’Grady was going to return to the airwaves next month to host a one-off Easter Sunday radio show on Boom Radio.
ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly described O’Grady as “a really special man” in an online tribute.
“Such sad news. Paul O’Grady – funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed. A really special man.”
Replying to another Twitter user, she added: “I always think dogs are the best judge of character and they ADORED him.”
Paul O’Grady was born in Birkenhead, on the Wirral, Merseyside.
His mother’s maiden name was Savage which is believed to have inspired his famous drag alter ego.
He began his career performing as Lily Savage in the 1970s whilst working as a peripatetic care officer for Camden Council, going on to tour northern England as part of drag duo the Playgirls.
He later settled into a solo show as Savage that ran for eight years at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and made a name for himself speaking out about LGBT issues.
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O’Grady’s career as Savage took off with TV and radio appearances in character and he was eventually asked to take over from Paula Yates as The Big Breakfast presenter as Savage from 1995 to 1996.
For a short run in 1997, he took on chat show The Lily Savage Show for the BBC and later that year had success as the host of a revived version of gameshow Blankety Blank, which ran until 2002.
The Paul O’Grady Show aired on ITV from 2004 to 2005 before it moved to Channel 4 as The New Paul O’Grady Show.
O’Grady won numerous accolades throughout his career including a TV Bafta, a British Comedy Award, and a National Television Award for The Paul O’Grady Show.
He was made an MBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to entertainment and attended the ceremony with his daughter Sharyn Mousley.
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