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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
O'Grady suffers heart attack
Lily Savage hosts game show Blankety Blank
Lily Savage hosts game show Blankety Blank
Comedian Paul O'Grady, better known to TV viewers as larger-than-life drag act Lily Savage, is recovering after having a heart attack.

"Paul O'Grady was admitted to a London hospital with a heart attack on Thursday night," said a Thames Television spokeswoman.

"After a two-hour operation he is comfortable and resting and is expected to make a full recovery."

O'Grady, 46, suffered the heart attack at home in Tower Bridge, central London, and immediately called his agent, Brendan Murphy.

O'Grady has made travel shows for ITV1
O'Grady has made travel shows for ITV1
"He called at 3am saying `I think I'm having a heart attack'," Mr Murphy said.

"I went straight round there and he was in a lot of pain, although he didn't look too bad. I called an ambulance and the rest happened very quickly and efficiently.

"It was a shock because he had not complained of any heart trouble before and he had no prior warning at all."

The star is understood to have undergone an angioplasty, a procedure in which a small balloon is passed into a narrowed or blocked artery to widen it.

Mr Murphy said: "The doctors are still concerned and they are monitoring his progress to see if he responds to today's procedure.

Depression

"If he doesn't then they will have to discuss what to do next."

O'Grady admitted recently that he was suffering from depression due to a heavy workload.

He said he beat his depression through exercise by swimming and running every day.

The one-time social worker has played the character of Savage for more than 15 years, having started on the comedy pub circuit in London.

Cilla Black is a close friend of O'Grady
Cilla Black is a close friend of O'Grady
He once said: "I'm not saying I'm a show-off but give me a stage and an audience and I'm as happy as a flea on a dog."

TV bosses soon took note of the caustic comedian and Savage was seen regularly on The Big Breakfast on Channel 4.

Travel shows

O'Grady also continued working on stage, and played the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie, as well as starring in the Prisoner Cell Block H musical.

He became host of the Blankety Blank game show in 1998, transferring with the show from BBC to ITV1.

Recently O'Grady has been leaving the blond wig behind and has started to host shows as himself.

He recently completed two travel series, in Asia and the US, and last weekend he hosted Screen Tests of the Stars, which featured footage of actors and musicians before they became famous.

O'Grady, who is divorced and has a grown-up daughter Sharyn, comforted Cilla Black after her husband Bobby died of liver cancer.

The pair are close friends and last November more than 11 million TV viewers watched them do a raunchy dance routine in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance.

They teamed up with Barbara Windsor to sing Got To Have A Gimmick from the hit musical Gypsy.

Black wore a risqué black outfit with illuminated bra and knickers, while EastEnders actress Windsor and O'Grady were in similar attire.

See also:

18 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Comedians strike it rich
27 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Queen sees royal Full Monty
10 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Savage joke on the utilities
24 Sep 98 | Entertainment
Lily drags up role in Annie musical
23 Jun 00 | G-I
Heart attack
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