Paul O’Grady, Darius Campbell-Danesh and more honoured at Olivier Awards

This year’s Olivier Awards paid tribute to a wealth of late stars during the 2023 ceremony.

Taking place inside London’s Albert Hall and hosted by Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham, the annual event recognises the achievements of theatre stars.

But amidst all the celebrations, there was also time for some reflection, as the likes of Paul O’Grady, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s son Nicholas, and Darius Campbell-Danesh were remembered.

Other famous faces honoured at the ceremony included Dame Angela Lansbury, Dame Hilary Mantel, Burt Bacharach, Bernard Cribbins, and Kay Mellor.

O’Grady’s death shocked the nation earlier this week, as the drag queen and comedian died unexpectedly aged 67.

His husband, Andre Portasio, confirmed the devastating news in a statement, saying at the time: ‘It is with great sadness that I inform you that Paul has passed away unexpectedly but peacefully yesterday evening.

‘We ask, at this difficult time, that whilst you celebrate his life you also respect our privacy as we come to terms with this loss.

‘He 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.’

It was later revealed that the Blind Date host died in his own bed, with tributes pouring in far and wide and special episodes of Blankety Blank and For the Love of Dogs airing in scheduling shake-ups.

Meanwhile, Lord Loyd Webber confirmed this month that his 43-year-old son had died following a gastric cancer battle.

The 75-year-old Oscar-winning composer shared the news on Twitter on March 25, writing: ‘I am shattered to have to announce that my beloved elder son Nick died a few hours ago in Basingstoke Hospital.

‘His whole family is gathered together and we are all totally bereft. – ALW’

The announcement came shortly after Lord Lloyd Webber shared that eldest son Nicholas, who was also a composer, had been moved to a hospice.

Pop Idol favourite Danesh Campbell died on August 11 at the age of 41.

An autopsy report revealed that the singer died accidentally as the result of ‘toxic effects of chloroethane’ which had been inhaled, with suffocation also cited to have contributed to his death. 

The likes of Gareth Gates shared their sorrow after the news broke, with the Spirit in the Sky hitmaker saying the pair spoke just two weeks earlier, and Gates had been ‘hit hard’ by the news.

Elsewhere at this year’s Olivier Awards, Paul Mescal and Jodie Comer won big, as the Normal People star won best actor, while the Killing Eve alum scooped best actress.

Mescal’s performance was one of several gongs for A Streetcar Named Desire, as the Almeida Theatre production also picked up the prestigious award for best revival, and Anjana Vasan won best actress in a supporting role for her turn as Stella.

The Irish star fought off tough competition from David Tennant for Good; Tom Hollander for Patriots; Rafe Spall for To Kill A Mockingbird; and Giles Terera for Blues For An Alabama Sky.

Meanwhile, Comer’s award came for her portrayal of Tessa in one-woman show Prima Facie.

Following glowing reviews for her West End debut, the hit production will hit Broadway this month.

Another big winner was Beverley Knight, who took home the award for best actress in a supporting role in a musical for her performance as Emmeline Pankhurst in Sylvia at The Old Vic.

The ceremony also celebrated Sir Derek Jacobi, who was given the lifetime achievement award for his outstanding contribution to theatre throughout his career.

Sir David struggled to hold back tears before giving an impressive speech name-dropping a number of famous people including Dame Shirley Bassey and Laurence Olivier, whom the ceremony is named after.

The show culminated in a tribute to special award recipient Dame Arlene Phillips, with a performance from Grease The Musical – a production she famously choreographed.

A total of 16 of the 18 winners won their first Olivier on Sunday, organisers said.

The Olivier Awards 2023 were being broadcast on ITV1 and ITVX from 10.15pm to 12.20am.

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