Belfast Telegraph

Paul O'Grady to host Blind Date comeback on Channel 5

The show was hosted for nearly two decades by the late Cilla Black.

Paul O’Grady has been confirmed as the host of Blind Date when it returns later this year.

The entertainment show has been updated for its comeback as it prepares to air for the first time in more than 13 years.

Formerly an ITV programme, Blind Date will now broadcast on Channel 5.

Paul said: “Blind Date is an incredibly special family show which brought laughter, tears and joy to TV viewers throughout out the land.

“I am honoured to present the brand new series and, after speaking to Channel 5, I know the series is in safe hands. I can’t wait to see if we can find love.”

The popular dating programme was hosted by the late Cilla Black for its run between 1985 and 2003.

Paul, a close friend of Cilla, hosted a one-off special in 2013 to celebrate her career in the entertainment industry.

Blind Date sees singletons hoping to find love competing against each other to score a date with a potential match, who is hidden behind a sliding panel.

For the first time, the show will welcome LGBT contestants and new thematic twists have been promised to inject some new life into the revamped series.

Ben Frow, director of programmes for Channel 5, said: “The reaction to the news that Blind Date is returning has been phenomenal and demonstrated the depth of love and affection for the nation’s favourite dating show.

“Paul is the perfect choice to bridge the old and the new, capturing the essence and charm of a series that became staple Saturday night family viewing in living rooms up and down the country, whilst attracting and appealing to a whole new generation of TV viewers.”

The new Blind Date will take on the likes of social media dating apps such as Tinder, and aims to encourage millennials against the “swipe left” phenomenon.

The original version of the matchmaking show aired on Saturday nights for 18 series and involved three individuals of the same sex being introduced to the audience.

They were then asked a number of questions by a contestant of the opposite sex who could not see them. The contestant would pick one of the individuals for a date based on their responses.

During its run, three pairs of Blind Date contestants married, with Cilla attending all of the couples’ weddings.

A number of celebrities appeared on the show before they became famous, including Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden and ex-Big Brother star Nikki Grahame.

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