The Heart Radio presenter reacted to news of the TV host and comedian’s death while co-hosting her show with Jamie Theakston on Wednesday (29 March).
Holden, who appeared alongside O’Grady on an episode of his ITV series For the Love of Dogs in 2021, said she was in “complete shock” over the news.
She called him “really funny” and “very witty”, stating that “everything that came out of his mouth was brilliant”.
However, Holden then said: “Do you know what I loved about him? He was not woke in any way. He had massive opinions on everything, which, I love people like that.”
Listeners have taken umbrage with Holden’s use of the word “woke”, arguing it was out of context and had no place being used for such a tribute.
In the Collins Dictionary, a “woke” person is described as somebody who is “very aware of social and political unfairness”.
However, over the years, the term “woke” has been adopted by many as a term related to social prejudice when the term actually derives from African-American culture, and was first used to mean being alert to racial prejudice.
Regardless, many are higlighting that the point Holden was making was “bizarre” as it is inaccurate. O’Grady was extremely supportive of several causes, many of which helped Aids organisations and the LGBTQ+ community, and for also being outspoken in his contempt of the Tory government.
In 2020, O’Grady himself said in an interview with The Sun: “I’m married to a ballet dancer, I’ve got a daughter, two grandkids and was married to a Portuguese lesbian barmaid. It doesn’t get much more woke.”
Presenter Mared Parry wrote on Twitter in response to Holden’s comment: “Is she talking about the same Paul O’Grady? The severe lack of intelligence here is something else.”
@TonyCowards added: "People who say ‘woke’ have no idea what it is or what it means have they?"
Menawhile, @swansonian wrote: “I imagine Amanda Holden would be mortified if she realised she just said Paul O'Grady didn't believe in fairness or social justice.”
O’Grady’s partner, Andre Portasio, announced the TV star’s “unexpected but peaceful” death.
He said in a statement: “[Paul] 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.”
The Lily Savage star’s cause of death has not been disclosed, but O’Grady had several health issues over the years.
The former 40-a-day smoker had his first heart attack in 2002, a second in 2006 and a third in 2014.