Paul James O'Grady was an English comedian, broadcaster, drag queen, actor, and writer. He achieved notability in the London gay scene during the 1980s with his drag persona Lily Savage, through which he gained broader popularity in the 1990s. O'Grady subsequently dropped the character and in the 2000s became the presenter of various television and radio shows, including The Paul O'Grady Show.
Born to a working-class Irish migrant family in Tranmere, Cheshire, O'Grady moved to London in the late 1970s, initially working as a peripatetic care officer for Camden Council. He developed his drag act in 1978, basing the character of Lily Savage upon traits found amongst female relatives. Touring England as part of drag mime duo the Playgirls, O'Grady then went solo as a stand-up comedian in the early 1980s. Performing as Savage for eight years at a South London gay pub, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT), he gained a popular following among London's gay community and used his character to speak out for gay rights. After being nominated for a 1992 Perrier Award, O'Grady attracted mainstream attention and made various television, radio, and theatrical appearances. As Savage, he presented the television shows The Big Breakfast (1995–1996), Blankety Blank (1997–2002), and Lily Live! (2000–2001), earning various awards and becoming a well known public figure.
Wishing to diversify from Savage, O'Grady starred in the BBC One sitcom Eyes Down (2003–2004) and presented two travel documentaries for ITV. In 2004, he began presenting ITV's daytime chat show The Paul O'Grady Show. After the network refused to transfer creative control of the series to O'Grady's production company Olga TV, he moved to Channel 4 in 2006, where the show was rebranded as The New Paul O'Grady Show, airing until 2009. O'Grady presented the late night ITV show Paul O'Grady Live (2010–2011) and BBC Radio 2's Paul O'Grady on the Wireless (2009–2022). Additional television shows included Paul O'Grady: For the Love of Dogs (2012–2023), Paul O'Grady's Animal Orphans (2014–2016), Blind Date (2017–2019), and Paul O'Grady's Great British Escape (2020). He also published several books, including a four-volume memoir.
O'Grady was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment. In 2020 he became president of the British Music Hall Society, taking over the role from Roy Hudd. He was a deputy lieutenant for the County of Kent, where he lived for many years.