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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Paul O'Grady: Flamboyant comic
Celebrity Blankety Blank with Stephen Gately; Liz Smith; Lily Savage; Antony Howard; Michelle Collins; Paul Ross & Sue Cook
The one-time social worker on Celebrity Blankety Blank
Paul O'Grady is better known for his caustic-talking, spandex-wearing, poodle-permed female alter ego Lily Savage.

He has played the much loved flamboyant and brash personality for 15 years and the one-time social worker started his rise to fame on London's comedy pub circuit.

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


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

Paul O'Grady
He made regular guest appearances on This Morning, as both himself and his drag queen persona.

O'Grady also continued stage work, playing the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie and starring in the musical version of TV series Prisoner Cell Block H .

He once admitted: "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."

The fast-talking drag queen's appeal led to Lily becoming the host of the Blankety Blank game show, taking over after comic Les Dawson died.

The show's title was changed to take in the star's name, becoming known as Lily Savage's Blankety Blank and the show transferred from the BBC to ITV1 in 2001.

Recently O'Grady has been leaving the blonde wig behind to host other shows as himself.

Depression

He recently completed two travel series, in Asia and the US, and this weekend he hosted ITV1's Screen Tests of the Stars - a programme recorded before he became ill.

In what came as a surprise to many of his fans, O'Grady admitted recently that he was suffering from depression due to a heavy workload.

Cilla Black, host of Blind Date is good friend of O'Grady
O'Grady helped comfort Cilla Black after the death of her husband
He said he beat his depression through exercise by swimming and running every day.

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

Last November more than 11 million TV viewers watched the pair do a raunchy dance routine in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance.

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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