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The Life and Death of Lily Savage, 29 March, ITV1

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On Friday 29 March, 2024 at 9:00 pm, ITV1 will air the brand one off “The Life and Death of Lily Savage.” This documentary examines the fascinating story of Paul O’Grady and his iconic alter ego, Lily Savage.

Paul O’Grady, who passed away in March last year, was not only an animal lover and a gifted conversationalist but also a razor-tongued drag queen who wowed audiences for over two decades. Against all odds, his creation of Lily Savage skyrocketed from being an underground cabaret star to becoming a sensation on mainstream television.

Set against the backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain, Clause 28, and the AIDS crisis, this unlikely tale unravels how a working-class gay man from Birkenhead crafted the unforgettable character of a Scouse sex worker. Paul honed Lily’s persona in London’s underground gay venues during the tumultuous years of the 1970s and ’80s.

O’Grady became a leading voice in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. His journey involved enduring police raids and heart-wrenching visits to AIDS wards while remaining true to his character. From her breakthrough appearance on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast to hosting Blankety Blank on BBC1 Saturday nights, Lily carved her path to fame over two decades — paralleling Britain’s own transformation.

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But then something extraordinary occurred: Lily Savage vanished from TV screens forever. In 2004, Paul O’Grady bid farewell to his beloved character once and for all. The reasons behind this decision remain intriguing.

Through personal accounts shared by close friends and family members—including his daughter Sharyn Mousley—this documentary sheds light on Paul’s remarkable journey as both himself and Lily Savage. It explores the gruelling years he spent bringing Lily from the fringes of London’s gay counterculture into the nation’s living rooms. Additionally, the program examines Paul’s own words from earlier recordings to understand why he made the bold choice to retire Lily.

Featuring interviews with Paul’s sister Sheila Rudd and friends such as Sir Ian McKellen, Julian Clary, Jools Holland, Jo Brand, Alan Carr, and Graham Norton, this episode offers an intimate glimpse into a forgotten chapter of Paul O’Grady’s extraordinary life.

Don’t miss “The Life and Death of Lily Savage” on ITV1 on Friday 29 March 2024 at 9:00 pm.

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Isabelle aka Izzy Jacobs is the UK previews specialist at memorabletv.com. Isabelle is particularly drawn to crime dramas, but she also has a not so secret love for all things reality TV. In addition to her work at memorabletv.com, Isabelle is also an avid traveler and a devoted foodie.

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