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Paul O'Grady: A remarkable life

Updated on March 13, 2015
Paul O'Grady
Paul O'Grady | Source

The early years

Paul O'Grady was born in 1955 to parents Patrick and Mary. He was raised in a Catholic household and, in his first book, he paints a vivid account of what it was like being an alter boy at that time and place. As a child, Paul was a huge fan of Batman, the Avengers and Popeye, (whom he ought to emulate by joining the cadets.

At the age of 16, Paul had left school, pursuing, instead, clerical jobs. In his teenage years, he began making friends wither others on Liverpool’s gay scene, attending meetings of a movement set up to campaign for equal rights for homosexuals. Though beginning to find himself, Paul found it hard to open up fully to his parents. In the second volume of his autobiography, he speaks movingly about building up the courage, (numerous times,) to tell his mother about his homosexuality, only for something to get in the way each and every time he tried to speak to her.

The first volume of Paul O'Grady's autobiography, "At my Mother's Knee"

Working for Camden council

Before his career in show-business took off, Paul worked for Camden council, caring both for elderly and mentally ill patients and abused and abandoned children. In writing about his life, he explained how violent such situations could get, describing how he had to cradle and comfort a child whilst its angry father tried to beat down the door. There seems to be no doubt that this range of real, human experiences fed into O'Grady's comedy, serving to make it earthy and rich. His comedy endures because it speaks of true events; true feelings. Rather than alienating one group or another, (as some modern comedians do,) O'Grady's humor is universal: involving, (and applying to) all.

Lily Savage

In 1978, Paul O'Grady began honing his caustic alter-ego, Lily Savage. Taking note of the way in which other performers held a crowd and delivered their jokes, O'Grady developed the character of Lily Savage until fantasy began to merge with reality. Paul has described Lily as a cartoon caricature but, also, as an amalgamation of several of the strong women in his early life. What was, (and is,) so unique about Lily Savage was her fully rounded character: she had two children, (who often appeared in her show,) and relations, (about whom she often humorously spoke.)

When morphing into Lily Savage Paula feeling of being set free. As the character he was able to fly into hilarious extended rants, showcasing his extraordinary flair for improvisation and his extremely sharp wit. described As well as being a hilarious construct, Lily Savage was as amusing offstage as she was on, (as numerous outtakes demonstrate.)

As well as being a medium for a rare comedic talent, Lily Savage was also a character that broke boundaries. She gained widespread acclaim and hosted many family shows, (such as the famous Blankety Blank.) In so doing, she flew a multi-coloured banner for homosexual and transgender rights.

As well as breaking barriers on the small screen, Lily Savage was also a pioneer on a personal level. When the AIDS epidemic hit in the 1980s, homosexuals received little, (if any,) support from any of the authorities. At that time, Lily Savage was a source of inspiration and hope for a frightened and hounded community. As his alter-ego, Paul would rally and encourage the crowds, pulling them away from their despair. He also spent time on wards with terminally ill patients, sharing drinks and cigarettes with them, (at a time when few knew whether the virus was contagious,) so that they could once more feel as if they belonged. Lily Savage was, in every sense of the word, a hero.

Lily Savage in Blankety Blank

Lily Savage's extensive wardrobe.
Lily Savage's extensive wardrobe. | Source

Paul discusses Lily Savage's enormous impact

The Paul O'Grady Show

In 2004, Paul O'Grady returned to the small screen with the Paul O'Grady show, a chat and entertainment show. The show revealed O'Grady to be a talented talk-show host, with the ability to make all guests feel welcome. The interesting interviews Paul conducted with his famous guests, (when coupled with hilarious skits and sketches,) made the show extremely popular.

Paul O'Grady animal shows

Recently, Paul has produced programmes centered on his love of animals, most notably For the Love of Dogs, which chronicles the day to day activities at Battersea Dogs Home and, Animal Orphans, where he visits, (and assists,) individuals dedicated to the preservation of endangered species in Africa.

The logo for the programme "The Love of Dogs."
The logo for the programme "The Love of Dogs." | Source

For the Love of Dogs

Animal Orphans


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    • tori-tompkins profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Yes, he's always enjoyable to watch, isn't he?

    • Tyler Bracken profile image

      Tyler Bracken 

      3 years ago from Berlin, Germany

      He's an interesting guy and I have always enjoyed watching him when he has been on.


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