Linda Thorson has said that the late Queen Elizabeth II adored Paul O’Grady, and was “very at ease” with him.
O’Grady, who started out as a social worker while performing on the London nightclub circuit as the acerbic, platinum wig-wearing Lily Savage, died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on 28 March, his partner Andre Portasio said in a statement.
Canadian actor Thorson, 75, told viewers in the programme that O’Grady had a unique connection with the late Queen, who died in September aged 96.
The actor, who played Tara King in The Avengers TV series airing in the Sixties, said that the Queen was “very, very at ease” with O’Grady.
O’Grady was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours list for services to entertainment. The presenter had met with the Queen several times and the pair are believed to have become good friends.
“He would have tea with her, and the reason that the Queen liked talking to Paul is that so few people knew how to talk to her,” Thorson continued.
“Paul could talk to anybody,” she said.
Actor, politician, and LGBT+ rights activist Michael Cashman added: “The Queen loved him. And of course, all they did was talk about animals and farming, and she loved his sense of humour.”
O’Grady once attempted to persuade the late Queen to adopt her own rescue corgi when she visited Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, his friend Ali Taylor revealed after his death.
When the Queen died in September, O’Grady paid tribute to the late monarch on Instagram, recalling a joke they exchanged at the Royal Variety Performance in 2001.
In the first photograph, O’Grady is being presented to the Queen, as he bows his head and shakes her hand.
Narrating the picture, O’Grady wrote: “I’m being presented to Her Majesty by our producer Jeff Thacker. Cilla [Black], Barbara Windsor and myself had performed [the song] ‘You gotta have a Gimmick’ from Gypsy.”
He continued: “I remember [the late Queen] asking me where I practiced playing my bugle and if my neighbours objected, I told her I went down the field and whilst the neighbours didn’t seem to mind a couple of sheep died of fright. RIP Ma’am.”
Elsewhere in the special episode, O’Grady was remembered by TV presenter Carol Vorderman, 62, as “force for good”.