RuPaul pays tribute to Paul O’Grady’s Lily Savage with sweet, simple message

On the left, RuPaul. On the right, Lily Savage.

From one drag legend to another, RuPaul has paid tribute to Paul O’Grady and his drag alter ego Lily Savage.

O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on Tuesday (28 March), and the world of entertainment has been recalling his long and successful career.

Writing on Twitter yesterday (28 March), RuPaul shared a photo of Lily on the set of BBC game show Blankety Blank, along with the sweet, simple words: “A brilliant life, a brilliant career.”

Lily was widely celebrated for pushing drag queens and queer culture into British mainstream entertainment, eventually enabling shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race UK to air.

Numerous Drag Race UK stars, including The Vivienne, Cheddar Gorgeous and Baga Chipz, have revealed how O’Grady’s sharp-tongued alter ego influenced their careers.

Blankety Blank, meanwhile, which Lily hosted from 1997 to 2002, heavily inspired fan favourite Drag Race challenge, Snatch Game.

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Drag Race fans have thanked Mama Ru for sharing her tribute, and are reflecting on how much Lily influenced the British take on drag.

One fan wrote: “Oh Ru, thanks for this – she was our RuPaul. Before drag became ‘mainstream’ Paul O’Grady gave us Lily Savage on Saturday night TV. I grew up seeing her and thinking about how fabulous one can be, and yet accepted in people’s living rooms – a true British trailblazer.”

Another said: “If you wanted to know what informs the style and tone of so many of the queens on Drag Race UK, look no further than Lily Savage, one of the greatest (if not the greatest) drag queens the world has ever known.”

A third thanked RuPaul for acknowledging a “living legend,” adding: “Lily/Paul will always be a national treasure. Truly an amazing drag queen, comedian, TV host and queer trailblazer. I’m actually surprised she never came on [Drag Race] as a guest judge. Would’ve been an absolutely iconic moment.”

World of Wonder, the production company famed for bringing Drag Race to air, shared its own tribute, featuring Lily’s appearance on the late-night Channel 4 show, Ring My Bell.

“Today, we honour the late Paul O’Grady, known for his drag persona Lily Savage, whose decades-long presence on UK television marked important and iconic visibility for the LGBTQ+ community,” their post reads.

Queer celebrities and trailblazers, including Alan Carr, Suzy Eddie Izzard and Peter Tatchell have also been reflecting on O’Grady’s legacy and recalling their favourite O’Grady moments.

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