Council to consider posthumously awarding 'highest honour' to entertainer Paul O'Grady

Council to consider posthumously awarding 'highest honour' to entertainer Paul O'Grady

COUNCILLORS in Paul O'Grady's native Wirral are to vote next week on posthumously honouring the late entertainer.

Wirral Council will debate a motion from council leader Janette Williamson on whether to posthumously award the Birkenhead star with the Freedom of the Borough.

The honour is the highest award the council can bestow on an individual.

Second-generation Irishman O'Grady — best known for his drag persona Lily Savage — passed away in March at the age of 67.

O’Grady as Lily Savage in 2004 ahead of a run as the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

"Since the sad passing of Birkenhead's legendary entertainer Paul O'Grady in March, we've heard the many asks for us to celebrate his legacy and we agree," said a statement from Wirral Council.

"The first step in doing so will see councillors consider a recommendation to bestow the star — who first found fame as the self-proclaimed 'Blonde Bombsite' Lily Savage — with the honour of Freedom of the Borough.

"This would recognise his years entertaining the nation, along with his dedicated activism and charity work."

It added: "The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award the council can bestow and will be discussed at the Regulatory and General Purposes Committee on Wednesday, June 7."


O’Grady was born and raised in Tranmere, Birkenhead, the son of Co. Roscommon native Patrick Grady and Mary Savage, a second-generation Irish woman.

He later relocated to London, where he began putting together his Lily Savage act in the late 1970s.

He started out in pubs and clubs before moving into TV in the late 1980s, later enjoying a successful stint as a presenter on The Big Breakfast on Channel 4.

The broadcaster also gave him his own show in 1995, Live from the Lilydome, while in 1997, he hosted The Lily Savage Show on BBC One.

O’Grady with Camilla, then Duchess of Cornwall, at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in 2012 (Image: Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Following the success of a Beeb Christmas special of Blankety Blank in 1997, Savage fronted a revival of the show, which later moved to ITV.

In 2004, the star landed his own chat show, The Paul O'Grady Show, which ran on ITV and Channel 4 until 2009, before being revived by ITV in 2013.

A keen supporter of animal rights, he hosted the award-winning documentary series For the Love of Dogs between 2012 and 2022.

Wirral Council said it is considering other ways to pay tribute to O'Grady's legacy and will release further details in due course.