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The show gained a devout following with an "extraordinary hardcore of fans [who] try to be at as many recordings as possible" in many cases arriving at the studio gates two hours before the advertised starting time in order to get the best seats. Returning to work as a peripatetic nurse for Camden Council social services he began caring for an old woman who lived several doors down from serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Then joining the Marine cadets he later commented that he was following in the footsteps of his childhood hero the cartoon Popeye.
Becoming famous for his drag queencomedic alter ego Lily Savage he subsequently became well known for presenting the daytime chat television series The Paul O'Grady Show. Appointed MBEin the 2008 Birthday Honourslist for services to entertainment in 2010 he received an Honorary Doctor of Arts from De Montfort University Leicester in recognition of his outstanding contribution to television radio and the stage.