Paul O’Grady assured fans that he was ‘absolutely fine’ following a Covid scare in comments made just one week before his shock death.
Paul, who found fame as drag act Lily Savage and was a beloved TV host, died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ at the age of 67 last night, his partner said.
Following the sad news of his passing, an interview from March 21 reveals how he insisted he was ‘back in business’ after a health concern.
In the poignant comments, he said he was ‘absolutely fine’ just one week before his sudden death, but admitted that he had feared he wouldn’t work again following a Covid scare.
When asked how he was ‘health-wise’, he told BBC Radio Scotland last week: ‘Oh, I’ve had everything chucked at me. I’m absolutely fine, touch wood. I’m OK.’
Paul O’Grady assured fans that he was ‘absolutely fine’ following a Covid scare in comments made just one week before his shock death
O’Grady explained that he had worried he might never work again after being left ‘breathless and tired’ for two months in 2022 when he caught Covid.
He said: ‘I think my last disaster was when I caught Covid last year. We were filming in Malta and I only got one day’s filming done. The next thing I was in a hotel room for nine days.
‘But getting over it was the worry. I was a good two months being breathless and tired. To tell you the truth, I thought, “I’ll never work again in this state. I can’t”.
‘But I’m back in business.’
However, just one week after the interview he was dead.
Andre Portasio, whom he wed in 2017, paid tribute to his ‘humour, wit and compassion’ in a statement announcing his death released just before 3am.
O’Grady became a household name in the early noughties, known for his wit and love of animals, and hosted a string of television programmes including his self-titled daytime chat programme The Paul O’Grady Show, which was first screened in 2004.
He also took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla Black, who died in 2015, to host the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017. And he fronted Blankety Blank, as well as ITV’s award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.
Devastating: Following the sad news of his passing, a resurfaced interview from March 21 showed Paul insisting that he was ‘back in business’ after some health concerns
The father-of-one’s cause of death wasn’t immediately known, but he had previously spoken of surviving heart attacks in 2002, 2006 and 2014, and also kidney failure. He also had a debilitating Covid battle that left him unable to work for two months.
Paul married Portuguese lesbian barmaid Teresa Fernandes in 1977 to stop her deportation. They divorced in 2005 and he wed ex-ballet dancer Andre is a low-key ceremony in 2017.
Decades earlier in 1974, he had his only child, a daughter called Sharyn Mousley, with his dear friend Diane Jansen. He is also a grandfather to Sharyn’s son Abel, who was born in 2006 and is now aged 16, and Sharyn’s daughter Halo, born in 2009.
His partner Andre said in a 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.’
Paul had been due to continue a tour of the UK as Miss Hannigan, appearing in Southampton at the end of April.
He was also scheduled to play the role in Liverpool, Wimbledon and in Bristol in November.
During his career, he hosted The Paul O’Grady Show, Blind Date and Blankety Blank, as well as ITV’s multi-award-winning For The Love Of Dogs. He also hosted ITV celebrity game show, Paul O’Grady’s Saturday Night Line Up.
He took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla Black, who died in 2015, as he hosted the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017.
Passing: Paul, who found fame as drag act Lily Savage and was a beloved TV host, died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ at the age of 67 on Tuesday night , his partner said
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.
In August last year he presented his final BBC Radio 2 show having hosted the Sunday afternoon programme for nearly 14 years, later saying the station’s drive for younger listeners ‘doesn’t make sense’.
He had been set to return to the airwaves next month to host a one-off Easter Sunday radio show on Boom Radio.
During the coronavirus lockdown, he wrote his debut children’s book, Eddie Albert And The Amazing Animal Gang, which was published in September 2021.
Tributes also began to pour in overnight from his showbusiness friends. Carol Vorderman said on Twitter: ‘Paul O’Grady. Already giving them raucous, ripping up the rulebook, mischief making, calling it out, loving hell in heaven.
‘Paul, what are we meant to do without you?’
Lorraine Kelly spoke of her pain at ‘such sad news’, adding: ‘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.’
X Factor’s Joe McElderry was also among the first to react to the shocking news.
‘I was stood in Paul O’Grady’s dressing room less than 3 weeks ago! He was full of life chatting and being so wonderful as always! So so sad! And such a loss! A true showbiz entertainer! May he rest in peace,’ he tweeted.
Actor John Barrowman said he was ‘shocked and sad’ to hear the news of O’Grady’s death.
Sharing two pictures of the TV star on Twitter he wrote: ‘I am totally shocked and sad to hear the awful news that Paul O’Grady has died. An awesome talent stretching decades.
‘From watching him as Lily Savage at the Vauxhall Tavern to sitting with him laughing backstage at West End Bares to being a guest on his @ITV Paul O’Grady show…’
Vernon Kay said Paul O’Grady was ‘always a joy to be around’ and described the presenter as ‘one of the best’ in an online tribute.
‘Paul O’Grady was one of the nicest and kindest people I’ve ever met,’ he tweeted.
‘Always a joy to be around and obviously, so much fun. He will be missed. Telly and friends have lost one of the best….RIP.’
Danny Beard, winner of the fourth series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, said Paul O’Grady was ‘the most important person in British culture for drag’.
‘I don’t think there’s anyone who does the job that I do that doesn’t class Paul as an icon,’ Beard told BBC Breakfast.
Sad news: Andre Portasio, who married Paul in 2017, paid tribute to his ‘humour, wit and compassion’ in a statement announcing his death released just before 3am
Achievements: He was made an MBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours (pictured with with partner Andre Portasio, sister Sheila Rudd and daughter Sharyn Mousley)
‘Paul was a trailblazer, they were on telly just after the Aids crisis.
‘They’ve been the most important person, I think, in British culture for drag, for the queer community. This is a really sad loss today… there’s a massive hole missing now.’
Throughout his career Paul won numerous accolades including a TV Bafta, a British Comedy Award, and a National Television Award for The Paul O’Grady Show.
He was made an MBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to entertainment. He attended the ceremony with his daughter Sharyn.