Blackpool theatre's tribute to Paul O'Grady, the 'national treasure'
The Lily Savage Show, featuring Paul as the alter-ego he retired in 2001, was the summer season show at the North Pier and a spokesman for the theatre there told The Gazette:
"Everyone here at the North Pier Theatre, now the Joe Longthorne Theatre North Pier, is totally shocked and very sad to learn that the great Paul O'Grady has passed away,.
"Paul was in a class of his own and the theatre was always delighted to have him here on stage through the years.
"The audiences always loved and adored him.
“He was a wonderfully kind and genuine man who cared so much about causes he was passionate about, in particular his work for Battersea Dogs Home.
"The words 'national treasure' ,often used too often these days, certainly apply to Paul. "
Comedian Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown also paid tribute, recallling when he met Paul as Lily at the same North Pier theatre come years earlier.
He said: “Very upsetting news to hear one of show business’s unique talents Paul O’Grady (Lily Savage) has passed away unexpectedly aged only 67
“I’ll never forget back in 1987 when Chubby met Lily on the North Pier Blackpool, I’m just trying to take it all in, what a shock and how very sad this news is. My complete condolences to all his family and friends – another laughter maker has left us, so sad.”
Paul was last in Blackpool just last October for Book Fest, talking about his Eddie Albert children’s books, at the Winter Gardens, where he memorably starred as Lily Savage in the 1900s.
A spokesman for the Winter Gardens said: From sell-out shows on national tours, to a Lily's Christmas Cracker in ‘96 to An Audience With only last October, Paul will forever be a giant of the entertainment world and a legend at Winter Gardens Blackpool. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.”
Historian Barry Band’s record of Paul’s act in Blackpool reads “a dame comedian with a difference burst onto the local club scene in the 1980s and soon became a bill-topping act as Lily Savage - sometimes billed ‘the blonde bombsite from Birkenhead’.
“The difference was Paul's height and slim build. So his alter ego was a stringy Merseyside tart with a voice like barbed wire.
“National fame on TV led to the Lily Savage Show for the 1996 summer season at Blackpool's North Pier and a Christmas show at the Opera House.
“Lily was ‘retired’ in 2001 and Paul went into a tour of the musical Annie, playing the dastardly Miss Hannigan.”