A look at some of the most memorable moments from Paul O'Grady's wonderful career

The trailblazing LGBTQ+ icon passed away peacefully on March 28, prompting fans to share their favourite moments from his dazzling four-decade career.

An image of the late Paul O'Grady.
Image: twitter @markthepunter

Paul O’Grady’s presence was a once-in-a-lifetime. Loved by all who knew him, his fans have described him as a “national treasure” and “comedy icon” as they mourn the unexpected loss of an enormously inspiring man.

He paved the way for LGBTQ+ people through his ferocious drag persona, Lily Savage. Lily’s debut performance took place on the afternoon of October 7, 1978, in The Black Cap gay pub in Camden. He stood up and mimed the words to Barbra Streisand’s ‘Nobody Makes a Pass at Me’ from the show Pins and Needles, and the rest, as they say, is history.

From there, Lily became a household name through her various television shows such as The Big Breakfast, Blankety Blank and Lily Live. The comedian also went on to host his very own chat show called The Paul O’Grady Show and a show dedicated to all things canines called For The Love of Dogs

To honour O’Grady’s incredible career, we take a look at some of his most iconic, memorable and hilarious appearances over the years. From guzzling wine next to the Thames to giving birth to hundreds of babies, these are a handful of Paul’s most special moments onscreen.

“Comeback?! I hate that word! It’s return… Return to the people out there in the dark who have never deserted me!”

In one of Lily Savage’s final television appearances, she had the late Eastenders star Barbara Windsor and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner Joe Pasquale in tears of laughter with her quick wit and unique perspective on womanhood. When host Michael Parkinson asked her about Paul O’Grady, well… Let’s just say that she wasn’t too impressed with him! “Don’t talk to me about that four-eyed flute!” 

“You talking about me, sunshine?!”

Prior to Paul O’Grady’s unexpected passing, he had just begun performances as the infamous Miss Hannigan in the UK and Ireland Tour of Annie The Musical. Tommy Wade Smith, the tour dance captain, shared a few behind-the-scenes clips from rehearsals which featured Paul doing what he did best… making people laugh. In this particular clip, Tommy tries to be sarcastic when answering a question about his co-star but instead, he gets annihilated by the comedian’s hilarious responses “keep it up, kid… Keep it up!”

“Judy Finnigan! You’ve got drunk at ten o’clock in the morning on live television!”

We can all agree that there’s nothing funnier than when live television goes wrong, right? Well, take Lily Savage and put her on live television with two of the This Morning hosts for a wine-tasting session, and you’ll get exactly that. She cracks up the wine expert as well as Richard and Judy with her shock at how much a particular bottle of wine costs. “How much is that? 2.99? Oh I’m not paying a fiver!” and gulps it down before throwing her glass into the River Thames.

“Go on, Cilla give ’em a glove! Give ’em a glove! Tell ’em you’re a lady, and you’re gonna be a star!”

There’s no denying that the iconic Cilla Black and Paul O’Grady were the ultimate comedic duo whenever they were together. The pair first met on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1998 and immediately became good friends. In this clip, they are both wreaking havoc on ITV’s Avenue of the Stars in 2005, and it gets funnier and funnier the more you watch it. Even when Cilla tries to be serious, Paul’s facial expressions are enough to set them both off again. Paul remarks about the stage, saying, “Who’s idea was this?! Let’s shove ’em on an open sewer!” sending the crowd into tears of laughter.

Paul O’Grady’s life was one filled with laughter, joy, advocacy and love. He will never be forgotten for his immeasurable legacy. Rest in Power, Paul. 

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