Paul O’Grady’s actress best friend Amanda Mealing reveals late star’s dying wish for those attending his funeral as she speaks of preparations for service after his sudden death
Paul O’Grady’s best friend Amanda Mealing has spoken of the late star’s dying wish for his funeral.
The entertainer died at the age of 67 this week, with his husband Andre Portasio announcing the sad news on Wednesday.
He said in a statement: ‘It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.’
And actress Amanda, 55, has now spoken out about Paul’s dying with for those attending his funeral.
She told the Mirror: ‘He just told us to have a good time. He’d hate it if everyone was morose.
Farewell: Paul O’Grady’s best friend Amanda Mealing has spoken of the late star’s dying wish for his funeral
‘Whatever happens, Paul’s funeral will be a celebration of his life and it will be full of laughter.
‘He just told us to have a good time – he’d hate it if everyone was mawkish and morose. He would just say, “I don’t care, I won’t be here! Do whatever you want”.’
Amanda went on to say there may be two funerals – a private one and another in ‘a very grand place’ for people outside Paul’s family to attend.
She said there are ongoing discussions but she expects people to fly in from all over the world to attend the larger ceremony.
Screen star Amanda said she fought back tears when she received a text message from Paul’s husband Andre in the early hours of Wednesday morning this week to say the star had died.
However, she has since cried happy tears as she reminisced and recalled amusing stories with Paul’s friends and family, which left her cackling with laughter.
She said they have been showered with gifts, messages, pictures and videos of Paul that fans had taken over the years.
Amanda told how she was moved to tears when she was sent a clip recorded at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London where Paul regularly performed as his drag alter ego Lily Savage, where patrons cheered instead of having a moment’s silence.
Celebration of life: Actress Amanda, 55, has now spoken out about Paul’s dying with for those attending his funeral, insisting he would want people to enjoy themselves (pictured in 2005)
‘It was such a lovely gesture to hear all this noise for him. It’s been an enormous comfort to know he was so loved,’ she said.
Paul was godfather to Amanda’s sons Milo and Otis and she spoke to him just days before he died.
She insisted he was ‘feeling great’ having just returned to Thailand and had sent her a plethora of holiday snaps of himself.
While Amanda said she was heartbroken for herself as she’s lost her best friend, she said she feels differently for Paul as ‘he absolutely rinsed his life’, adding: ‘He got absolutely everything he could out of it and that is wonderful.’
Amanda is also grateful Paul died at home with husband Andre nearby rather than in a hotel room alone.
Paul died at the age of 67 this week.
The legendary TV presenter – who rose to fame in the 1990s with his drag queen persona Lily Savage – died ‘unexpectedly and peacefully’ on Tuesday evening, according to his partner Andre Portasio.
Sad news: The entertainer died at the age of 67 this week, with his husband Andre Portasio announcing the sad news on Wednesday (the couple are pictured here at the Royal Opera House in London in 2018)
He said in a statement: ‘It is with great sadness that I inform you that
‘Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.
‘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.’
His long time radio producer Malcolm Prince had visited O’Grady – who had recently been touring as Miss Hannigan in the stage musical Annie – at his home earlier in the afternoon.
He tweeted: ‘He was so proud of Annie, so happy to be back on Boom Radio, and he was looking forward to so many new projects.
‘And now he’s gone. I can’t believe it. We have lost a unique talent – and I’ve lost a dear friend.’
Paul – who was made an BME for services to entertainment in 2008 – first started performing as Lily Savage in the 1970s, going onto launch The Lily Savage Show on the BBC in 1997.
Star quality: Paul – who was made an BME for services to entertainment in 2008 – first started performing as Lily Savage in the 1970s (pictured on Blankety Blank)
He revived Blankety Blank until 2002, and went on to present a number of chat shows including ITV’s teatime programme The Paul O’Grady Show from 2004 to 2005, and then moving over to Channel 4.
In 2017, he took over from Cilla Black on Channel 5’s Blind Date reboot, while over the years he also fronted ITV’s For The Love of Dogs, which was tied to his role as an ambassador for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
He recently left BBC Radio 2 after 14 years, noting at the time he wasn’t pleased with sharing his Sunday afternoon slot.
He was set to join Boom Radio for Easter Sunday in less than two weeks.
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