Paul O’Grady and Julian Clary’s decades-long friendship – neighbours, ‘censored’ eulogy and ‘still talking’ to him

Paul died earlier this year

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Paul O’Grady had a long list of famous friends in his phone book – and that included Julian Clary, who is still cut up over his death.

The two showbiz legends go way back – we’re talking years. And with both comedians being ground-breaking and revolutionary in what they do, it’s no surprise they got on like a house on fire.

Sadly in March, Paul passed away aged 67. The news, as expected, left the nation heartbroken, including national treasure Julian. In a tribute on X, he said: “Farewell to my fierce and funny friend.” Julian, who is appearing on Tipping Point on Tuesday (December 26) added: “I’m going to miss you.”

So when did the two meet? And what part did Julian play in Paul’s funeral? Keep reading to find out.

Paul O'Grady and Julian Clary smiling
Paul and Julian were pals for years (Credit: Joanne Davidson/Shutterstock)

When did Paul O’Grady and Julian Clary meet?

As fans will know, Paul shot to fame in the 1980s thanks to his no-holds-barred drag alter ego Lily Savage. Similarly, Julian also had his big break then thanks to his stand-up routines.

In an interview on BBC Radio 2, Julian recalled how he first met Paul in the early ‘90s. He said: “It was at the Vauxhall Tavern, where it was all going off, you know.

“And Lily Savage was reigning supreme. It was. I think I was on television, so I sort of swung in and I went into his dressing room and he was a bit suspicious of me at the time.”

Meanwhile, Paul once joked: “I’ve known Julian for years… 35 years! What he comes out with about me is shocking – he said when I have a party the police won’t come when my sister is here unless they have tasers.”

Paul and Julian were neighbours

Over the years, Paul and Julian’s relationship went from strength to strength. So much so that they ended up becoming neighbours.

When he was alive, Paul lived in the Kent countryside – and Julian lived round around the corner.

It’s believed Julian, who has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and Strictly Come Dancing, was Paul’s neighbour up until 2019 when he moved out of the village.

Julian Clary at Paul O'Grady funeral
Julian delivered a eulogy for Paul at his funeral (Credit:

Julian’s ‘censored’ eulogy for Paul O’Grady after his death

Paul sadly passed away in March and his funeral took place a month later. At the funeral, Julian led a game of Blankety Blank during his eulogy – leaving mourners giggling.

Norman Corfield, churchwarden for St Rumwold’s Church, told the Daily Express: “It was amusing and caused a lot of laughter.” He explained: “He [Julian] started it by saying because it was in a church he wouldn’t be using any swear words, so he amused everybody by putting a lot of blanks in.

“There were lots of blanks in amongst the words he said. He was telling stories about his time with Paul O’Grady and he obviously had a great time with him and he was very fond of him.” Reverend Canon Roger Martin also said the eulogy was “very entertaining”.

Julian ‘still talks’ to Paul O’Grady

Paul’s death rocked the nation and the showbiz world. And in October, months after his pal’s death. Julian candidly revealed how he still speaks to Paul.

Speaking to Radio Times magazine, he said: “Ah yes, I’ll see him [Paul] next time I’m on tour. It was such a shocking, sudden death. Everyone’s finding it really hard.

“I used to speak to him on the phone every few weeks. I forget that he’s gone. He was the funniest person. Whenever he rang, it would be just an injection of joy. I was helpless with laughter. He was absolutely filthy.”

Read more: Paul O’Grady’s grandson has adopted late comedian’s ringtone as his own in sweet tribute to star

Catch Julian on Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Christmas Special today (December 26) at 5.45pm on ITV1.

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Joey Crutchley
Freelance Writer