Everything you need to know about Paul O’Grady

Everything you need to know about Paul O’Grady

From For the Love of Dogs to his secret wedding, we investigate Yours favourite Paul O’Grady.

Paul O'Grady latest news


Paul slams SeaWorld

In recent years, we have all become aware of the truth behind Florida theme park, SeaWorld, and how the orca whales are mistreated. This was brought to public attention following the documentary, Blackfish. Now, Paul has backed campaigns against SeaWorld by urging travel operator Thomas Cook to stop selling tickets to the theme park.

Paul teamed up with PETA to send a letter to Thomas Cook where he wrote: “Selling tickets to SeaWorld condemns orcas to a life sentence in a barren prison cell.”

“We know so much more about wild animals today than we did decades ago…I hope you’ll agree that we can no longer in good conscience continue to exploit them for human entertainment.

“I hope Thomas Cook, as the UK’s oldest and most renowned travel provider, will join the growing list of institutions which have severed ties with SeaWorld. Until then, I won’t book it – I won’t Thomas Cook it.”

This comes after the news that the theme park’s CEO, Joel Manby has resigned due to a decline in ticket sales. The fall in sales not only follows the documentary but also PETA’ shocking claims about the treatment of the orcas.

According to PETA: “Young orcas are separated from their loving mothers – with whom, in the wild, they often spend their entire lives.

In nature, orcas travel up to 100 miles a day, but in captivity, they have no choice but to swim in circles in tiny tanks.

"The resulting frustration may cause them to chew on concrete walls or attack one another. At least 41 orcas have died at SeaWorld – none of old age."


Paul's touching tribute to Ken Dodd

Like many comedians, Paul O'Grady was deeply saddened by the passing of Ken Dodd. He spoke to the Guardian about their shared love for hometown Liverpool:

"As a kid I got the Diddymen annual and would see him at the theatre and just be completely entranced. At Christmas we’d watch him on TV at my auntie’s. She’d scream with laughter. My auntie and my mum used to go and stand outside the courts to show support during the trial over his taxes. When he came out, they’d shout: 'We’re behind you, Ken! Good luck, lad!'"

Secret of Paul's marriage success


It turns out that the secret of Paul and husband Andre Portasio's marital harmony is an unusual one - the pair don't live together. Paul, 62, and Andre, 37, live apart in the style of famous former couple Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter.

Paul has said: "We're doing a Helena Bonham Carter and Tim whatshisname, and it works a treat. It's the same as before. We see each other all the time."

Paul wins a Special Recognition Award at the NTAs!


We were delighted to see Paul awarded a Special Recognition Award at this year's National Television Awards, for his tireless efforts on For the Love of Dogs. It couldn't have happened to a nicer man. 

We're now on the campaign trail for Paul O'Grady to be knighted!

When a Blind Date contestant is stood up - Paul steps in!

 Pic: Channel 5

Pic: Channel 5

One more reason to love Paul O'Grady: the gold-hearted presenter stepped in to help a Blind Date contestant left in the lurch! Fans of the show will remember that last weekend Rosie from Kent picked 'number three', aka Conor from Preston, and the two won a trip mountain biking in Wales. Except Rosie decided Conor wasn't 'The One' and stood him up for their date. Poor Conor. 

Luckily, kind Paul couldn't stand to see Conor have a holiday alone, so he stepped in to save the day! "I couldn't leave one of our contestants all alone on their date," he says, "so I stepped in to lend a helping hand."

Lovely Paul made sure that Conor wouldn't have to endure a date weekend in Wales all alone, so arranged for recent contestant, Danielle from Dublin to join Conor on his date. The attractive pair had a great date biking through the mountains and enjoying the hot tub, but sadly it wasn't love, as Danielle announced on the show that she would prefer to just remain friends with Conor rather than something more serious. Poor Conor! 

Who is Paul O’Grady?

Paul O’Grady is a TV presenter, comedian, actor, writer and radio DJ.


How old is Paul O’Grady?

Paul was born in June 1955 and is currently 62.

Paul and Lily Savage

Paul O’Grady’s career started as the outrageous drag queen character Lily Savage. Hilarious and very naughty, Lily began touring the London drag circuit, making quite the name for herself. Paul was working in pubs at the time and also acted as a compere for other acts, becoming increasingly popular. He eventually quite work to act as Lily full time, winning awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

He later released videos of his tour and began work on the radio as Lily, on Woman’s Hour and Loose Ends. Lily then made an appearance on Brookside and even presented an episode of Top of the Pops.

Paul O’Grady on The Bill

Paul’s TV breakthrough came in 1988 when he appeared as a transvestite character called Roxanne in The Bill. He followed this up with roles in Chimera on ITV where he became pals with Liza Tarbuck, and playing Marlene Dietrich in Rik Mayall’s The New Statesman.

Paul O’Grady as Lily on The Big Breakfast

You might also remember Lily from The Big Breakfast, having taken over from Paula Yates. Paul found the early starts hard to cope with, but enjoyed asking deeply personal questions of his guests.

Paul O'Grady in panto

Paul - as Lily Savage - has appeared in all sorts of pantomimes. It became a Christmas tradition, although this year he's planning a family Christmas

Paul O’Grady’s dogs


Paul has a well-documented love for dogs, starting with his beloved shih tzu Buster, who he took on tour with him.


Sadly no longer with us, Paul has described him as a ‘smashing dog’ who was never happier than in the world of showbiz, being fussed over by staff and public alike. Buster died in 2009 after a struggle with cancer.


Cairn Terrier Olga is also famous for her TV roles with Paul. He's described her as 'Ma Baker' for the way she rules the roost with his other pets!


Dear little runt Eddie came home with Paul during the filming of For The Love of Dogs. He took him at the end of the series, unable to resist his puppy charms! He's said: "He was the runt and the head nurse had to hand rear him. She was really worried about him so I said, 'oh, give him here!' He's feisty now, a real character."


Paul loses beloved dog Louis

Poor Paul announced the death of his beloved dog Louis in late 2017 on his BBC Radio 2 show: "I’ve had a bit of bad news myself. I came down the other day and Louis, my 14-year-old Shiz Tsu had had a stroke. I took him to the vets and they said they’d do all they could but he had a bad heart, he was going blind, he was going deaf, he had arthritis and all sorts. So the vet rang me up and said he’s in a terrible state and we think it’s best if we put him to sleep so I’ve lost my Louis. I’ve also had to take Olga in because she’s got a growth on her leg which is a tumour. But because she’s only got one kidney the operation would be too much for her. So we’re just letting things settle and see how it goes. “I keep saying I’m never ever getting a dog again because you invite a dog into your life – or any animal – and inevitably you invite heartache. But you don’t look at the hangover when you’re at the party do you so you might as well enjoy it.”

Paul as Lily Savage in Blankety Blank

Oh how we enjoyed Blankety Blank! The funny gameshow was revived in 1998 with Lily Savage at the helm – she was hilarious with her ad-libs and naughty jokes. It proved extremely popular, and moved from the BBC to ITV with Paul on a £1m contract! He also got to make a comedy series on the channel called Lily Live! 


Paul O’Grady in Annie

As Lily’s career hotted up even further with appearances on Richard and Judy and Ready, Steady, Cook, Paul performed as Mrs Hannigan in the West End’s Annie – a role that would later be performed by Craig Revel Horwood and Miranda Hart! He later appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as the Child Catcher, and went on to do many pantomimes.

Paul O’Grady’s Orient

After so many years in a fluffy blonde wig and heels, Paul wanted to retire the character of Lily and make a name in his own right. He made a travel series for ITV which saw him travelling across Asia, in Paul O’Grady’s Orient, and then made Paul O’Grady’s America. Neither were particularly well received.

Paul O’Grady’s heart attack

In 2002, poor Paul was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was told it was a result of family heart problems, stress, heavy smoking and caffeine. He suffered a second in June 2006, while at home, and had to have angioplasty surgery. This was in the middle of his Paul O’Grady Show success, so he began taking one day off a week for his health, filled in for by presenters including pal Cilla Black. In 2013 he suffered an angina attack and had more heart surgery.

Paul O’Grady reality TV

Paul isn’t a fan of reality TV shows and has turned down a fair few, with the exception of Celebrity Driving School. He did this for a Comic Relief special and ended up gaining his licence after the programme – despite having an epic melt-down on camera!

Paul in Eyes Down

Uncharacteristically, Paul agreed to star in a sitcom because he loved the script so much. The script in question was for Eyes Down, a Liverpool bingo themed show, in which he played unpleasant manager Ray.

The Paul O’Grady Show

After standing in for Des O’Connor on Today with Des and Mel, Paul realised he had a knack for live TV and did well with audiences. He was offered his own programme, The Paul O’Grady Show which began in 2004 and was a huge hit. It saw him interviewing celebrity guests and was packed with jokes, music and his beloved dog Buster. He moved the show from ITV to Channel 4 in 2006, as he wanted Olga TV (Murphy’s production company, named after their dog) to take creative control. In total he presented a whopping 11 series, ending in 2009, before taking it back to ITV for a teatime version until 2015.

Paul in Doctor Who

As unlikely as it sounds, Paul appeared in Doctor Who episode The Stolen Earth in 2008.

Paul and Brendan Murphy

Paul met Brendan Murphy (known as Murphy) in the 1980s while he was performing as Lily, and the two fell in love. Murphy then became Paul’s manager. Tragically, at the height of Paul’s fame on The Paul O’Grady Show, Murphy developed brain cancer, and Paul cared for him at home. He died aged just 49, two days before Paul’s 50th birthday.


Paul O’Grady For The Love Of Dogs

Possibly our favourite of Paul’s projects has been For the Love of Dogs. The series has been running since 2012, and features many of the loveable mutts at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home as they strive to find new families. Paul is such a natural with animals – for the first series he stayed as a volunteer at the centre for six months instead of the scheduled six days! He also ended up taking home Jack Russell-Chihuahua cross Eddy. 


We're now looking forward to For the Love of Dogs Christmas Special, which features a pregnant terrier-cross who was tragically abandoned on Hampstead Heath, as well as two adorable Bassett Hounds determined to stick together!


Paul O’Grady Animal Orphans

Paul made a three-part series in 2014 called Animal Orphans that saw him visiting adorable baby animals in Africa. He went on to make two more series. He also made For the Love of Animals.

Paul on Blind Date

After some persuading Paul eventually agreed to fill the big boots of Cilla Black, as presenter of Blind Date after her death. A second series is due in 2018.

Paul O’Grady’s books

Paul has written a four-part autobiography:

At My Mother’s Knee… and Other Low Joints

The Devil Rides Out: The Second Coming

Still Standing: The Savage Years

Open the Cage, Murphy! Further Savage Adventures

He’s also written a new book called Paul O’Grady’s Country Life

Paul O’Grady’s partner Andre Portasio

Paul is in a long-term relationship and now married to ballet dancer Andre Portasio. 

Paul O'Grady's marriage

Paul and Andre Portasio have been together since 2006 and got married in a small, secret ceremony in August 2017, at the Goring Hotel.

Is Paul married to Teresa Fernandes?

Paul was married from 1977 – 2005 to Portuguese lesbian Teresa Fernandes although the pair were not in a romantic relationship, and during that time Paul was in a relationship with Brendan Murphy. He says they married as her family were putting pressure on her. 

Does Paul have a child?

He has a daughter, Sharyn, who he had with friend Diane Jansen in 1974.

Paul's family

 Paul's partner, sister and daughter join him to collect his MBE

Paul's partner, sister and daughter join him to collect his MBE

Daughter Sharyn is married to son-in-law Philip. He also has a grandson, Abel, born in December 2006 and a granddaughter, Halo, born in 2010. The family are happily very close, and spend Christmas together whenever Paul isn't performing in panto!

Paul O’Grady and Cilla Black


Paul and Cilla were great friends, and Paul was hit hard by her death. Other famous friends of Paul’s include Elton John, Barbara Windsor, Ian McKellen, Julian Clary and Cher.

Paul’s Radio 2 show

Paul has a hugely popular Radio 2 programme called Paul O’Grady on the Wireless, which he has presented on Sundays from 2009.

Where is Paul O’Grady’s house?

In 1999 Paul bought Vic Reeves’ home in Aldrington, Kent for £650,000 and built a smallholding for his animal friends. Here, he grows organic fruit, vegetables and herbs.

What animals does Paul have at home?

In his Kent home he keeps sheep, pigs, goats, donkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, ferrets, mice and dogs. He divides his time between there and a flat in London.

Paul's near-death experience

Our favourite presenter has revealed he almost died while filming in India! Paul was rushed to hospital for life-saving treatment after falling ill in New Delhi. He's not entirely sure what happened, but thinks it may have stemmed from petting wounded puppies, which may have given him a vomiting bug. His doctor told him he was 'heading for renal failure', but thanks to antibiotics and plenty of fluids, he recovered his health. He's expressed his gratitude to hospital staff. We're so relieved he's feeling better!

Paul speaks out for Asian elephants


Paul has been passionate about elephants for a long time, having met many over the years on his travels. He recently visited India for his recent programme For the Love of Animals, and is now begging tourists not to ride on elephants on their holidays - no matter how tempting it looks. He's said: "Asian elephants are very special creatures and we need to protect them. Don't go riding on their back or go looking at them at temples."

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