Paul O'Grady's best friend Amanda Mealing discusses 'double funeral' plans for star

Former Casualty star and best friend of the late comedian has opened up about his death and plans for two funerals 'full of laughter'

G82Y2J Pioneer British Academy Television Awards - Theatre Royal. Paul O'Grady with actress Amanda Mealing.
Paul O'Grady with actress and best friend Amanda Mealing. (Alamy)

Paul O'Grady's best friend Amanda Mealing has revealed plans for a double funeral for the star are underway as she discussed his dying wish.

The former Casualty star explained how she felt "numb" when she got a text telling her O'Grady had passed away as she rushed to comfort his husband Andre Portasio in the early hours of Wednesday (29 March) morning.

Mealing, 55, had been friends with O'Grady for 35 years and affectionately called him "Savage" in reference to his Lily Savage drag queen alter-ego.

Read more: Paul O'Grady tribute fund sees Battersea Dogs Home inundated with over £100k in donations

Speaking to the Mirror she admitted that O'Grady had made it clear to her he wanted people to have a "good time" at his funeral and that he would "hate it if everyone was mawkish and morose."

Tearful Mealing described the moment she found out O'Grady, 67, had passed away and how she rushed to his farmhouse in Adlington, Kent, at 1 am.

She said: “Andre sent me a text at 1 am. I woke up to it. I was just numb. I just couldn’t comprehend what the text had said. I just couldn’t understand it. As soon as I got myself together I went down to the house.

“Over the last few days, we’ve started conversations crying and end up laughing with tears just remembering ridiculous stories! Whatever happens, Paul’s funeral will be a celebration of his life and it will be full of laughter."

Read more: Paul O'Grady died in bed beside husband

The actress then gave further details on plans for his send-off as she revealed that two funerals could be on the cards to ensure everyone gets a chance to say goodbye.

She added: “There may be two funerals. A small private one and a big one in a very grand place for those outside the family. I would think it’ll be in London.

Watch: Paul O'Grady dies aged 67 after glittering showbiz career

“Then everyone can come to that and it gives people a chance to fly in. There are ongoing conversations. We’ve also been asking: ‘Can we do something in Liverpool?’ because obviously they very much feel he’s their baby. It’s so difficult.”

Meanwhile, a tribute fund set up by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in honour of O'Grady has had an incredible £174,557 in donations at the time of writing following an overwhelming outpouring of love and generosity from members of the public who were devastated at the news of his death.