Presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady has died at the age of 67, his partner has said.
The TV star, known for his drag queen persona Lily Savage, died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday evening, his husband Andre Portasio said in a statement.
Mr Portasio said in his statement: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.”
“We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.
“He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends, family, animals and all those who enjoyed his humour, wit and compassion.
“I know that he would want me to thank you for all the love you have shown him over the years.”
Born in Birkenhead, the star rose to fame in the 1990s with his iconic scouse drag queen Lily Savage, going on to present game show Blankety Blank and other light entertainment programmes.
During his career, he went on to host The Paul O’Grady Show, Blind Date and Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up, as well as ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.
Last year, he was joined by the Queen Consort in a special one-off episode of For The Love Of Dogs to mark 160 years of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organisation for which he was an ambassador.
During the coronavirus lockdown, he wrote his debut children’s book, Eddie Albert And The Amazing Animal Gang, which was published in September 2021.
In August of 2022 he presented his final BBC Radio 2 show having hosted the Sunday afternoon programme for nearly 14 years.
O’Grady had been set to return to the airwaves next month to host a one-off Easter Sunday radio show on Boom Radio.
ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly described O’Grady as “a really special man” in an online tribute.
“Such sad news. Paul O’Grady – funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed. A really special man.”
Replying to another Twitter user, she added: “I always think dogs are the best judge of character and they ADORED him.”
He was made an MBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to entertainment.