Paul O’Grady’s heartbreaking last Instagram post reveals he was devastated by the loss of his pet pig Tom Tom.
O’Grady died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ at 67 on Tuesday night, his partner revealed this morning.
But just two weeks before his passing, the late Lily Savage star was mourning his own loss after returning from his theatre tour to discover Tom Tom had been put down.
Posting a video of his pet pig in the pen as he asked, ‘What’s the matter?’, he wrote: ‘Got back from a week in Newcastle playing Miss Hannigan in Annie to find that Tom Tom, one of my pigs had been put to sleep.
‘I knew it was coming as he’d been diagnosed with a tumour but even so it’s awful when you lose a pet. He was the cheekiest of the gang and one of the other pigs who was obviously very fond of him is now depressed and gone into mourning and there’s those who say that animals don’t have feelings.
Paul O’Grady’s heartbreaking last Instagram post reveals he was devastated by the loss of his pet pig Tom Tom a fortnight ago
Just two weeks before O’Grady died, the late Lily Savage star was mourning his own loss after returning from his theatre tour to discover Tom Tom had been put down
‘On a lighter note I’m thoroughly enjoying playing Hannigan again after so long especially with a truly amazing and lovely cast. Next stop Edinburgh.’
The post has since been flooded with messages of sadness and condolence from fans who awoke on Wednesday morning to discover the star had died.
It comes after his partner Andre Portasio, who married O’Grady in 2017, paid tribute to Paul’s ‘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 daytime chat show, The Paul O’Grady Show, which began airing 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. Other shows presented by the star included Blankety Blank and ITV’s award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.
The father-of-one’s cause of death isn’t known, but he had spoken of surviving heart attacks in 2002, 2006 and 2014, and having kidney failure. He also had a debilitating Covid battle that left him unable to work for two months.
Mr Portasio said early on Wednesday morning: ‘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.
TV star Paul died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ on Tuesday night, his partner said, aged just 67
O’Grady posted a video of his pet pig in the pen, with him asking ‘What’s the matter?’, to reveal the ‘awful’ news that his pig Tom Tom had died
He wrote: ‘I knew it was coming as he’d been diagnosed with a tumour but even so it’s awful when you lose a pet. He was the cheekiest of the gang’
O’Grady made a name for himself as one of Britain’s best-known dog lovers
‘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.’
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, tweeting: ‘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.’
O’Grady with partner Andre Portasio, whom he married in 2017, at the Royal Opera House in London in 2018
This is believed to be the last picture of O’Grady, taken at Edinburgh Playhouse on Saturday. He is pictured with a dog called Frankie who appears on stage
Actor John Barrowman said he was ‘shocked’ 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.
‘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.’
And human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘Paul wasn’t just a brilliant comedian and broadcast personality but a much admired campaigner for LGBT+ equality and animal rights.
‘He supported my work for many decades and was a valued patron of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
The comedian and TV personality rose to prominence in his drag queen persona Lily Savage in the 1980s and 1990s before going on to host a string of television programmes
Paul was pictured last week when it was announced he planned to take his radio show to Boom Radio after leaving the BBC
‘Paul was planning to lead our forthcoming campaign for the police to apologise for their historic persecution of the LGBT+ community. We will miss him. Our sincere condolences to his partner Andre and to all who loved him.
‘Paul was one of the loveliest people you could ever meet. Everyone whose lives he touched will miss him greatly, as will those who enjoyed his wit and admired his compassion.’
O’Grady had previously spoken about battling back to health after heart trouble – typically making light of his brushes with death.
‘Three days after my last heart attack, I was back fire-eating with McFly,’ he said.
‘The heart is a muscle so you have two choices, sit on the sofa and count your tablets all day, or get on with it and get moving – swimming and walking, gentle exercise.’