Paul O'Grady has died, aged 67.

The beloved presenter and comedian passed away "unexpectedly but peacefully" on Tuesday (28th March), his husband Andre Portasio said in a statement.

"It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening," said Portasio.

"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."

National Television Awards in 2018
Paul O'Grady at the National Television Awards in 2018 Getty/EGB

Born in Birkenhead, on the Wirral, Merseyside, in 1955, O'Grady first rose to fame performing as his drag alter ego Lily Savage in the 1970s.

As Lily, O'Grady hosted chat show The Lily Savage Show for the BBC in 1997, followed by a revival of gameshow Blankety Blank, which aired first on BBC One from 1997 to 1999 and again on ITV from 2001 to 2002.

He later hosted teatime chat show The Paul O'Grady Show – first on ITV from 2004 to 2005, then on Channel 4 from 2006 until 2009, and again on ITV between 2013 and 2015 – as well as a 2017 revival of Blind Date on Channel 5, taking the reins as host from close friend Cilla Black.

From 2009 to 2022, O'Grady also fronted a radio show broadcast in the Sunday teatime slot on BBC Radio 2.

O'Grady was known as a devoted animal lover, launching factual series For The Love of Dogs on ITV in 2012 which followed the staff at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, an organisation for which he was an ambassador. One of his final TV appearances was in a special one-off episode of the series last year, appearing alongside Camilla, Queen Consort.

Throughout his long and distinguished career in entertainment, O'Grady won a TV BAFTA, a British Comedy Award and a National Television Award and, in 2008, was made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to entertainment.

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Notable figures to have paid tribute to O'Grady include Lorraine Kelly, who tweeted: "Such sad news. Paul O'Grady - funny, fearless, brave, kind and wise. Will be sorely missed."

Zoe Ball also paid tribute on her Radio 2 breakfast show this morning, saying: "We're all heavy of heart here this morning at the news of our dear friend Paul O'Grady. I know he was so loved by the Radio 2 listeners and all of us here."

Fellow radio presenter Simon Mayo said O'Grady was "a lovely man, always funny and a radio natural", while TV host Amanda Holden said in an Instagram post that O'Grady was "strong, funny, opinionated, no-nonsense, brilliant".