Belfast Telegraph

Paul O'Grady sought permission from Cilla Black's relatives for Blind Date gig

The 61-year-old star fronts the upcoming reboot of the famed dating show, which Cilla presented from 1985 to 2003.

Cilla Black's sons gave Paul O'Grady permission to host Blind Date.

The 61-year-old star fronts the upcoming reboot of the famed dating show, which Cilla presented from 1985 to 2003. Paul was a close friend of Cilla's prior to her death in August 2015, so felt emotional when it came to filming the first episode of the programme.

Telling the Radio Times magazine he felt he "shouldn't be doing it", Paul added: "I thought 'This isn't right, it's so synonymous with Cilla, she should be here, not me’.”

"But then I spoke to her sons and lots of people who knew her and they said: 'You have to do it, because she'd want you to do it for everyone.’"

Paul also opened up to the publication about how he initially forged a bond with Cilla, with whom he frequently attended showbiz events during her life. It was the pair's working class backgrounds, and the fact that they were both from Liverpool, that led to them forming such a close relationship.

"We knew where we were both coming from," he smiled. "We both knew what outside loos were. All the stereotypical stuff."

The new Blind Date kicks off on Channel 5 on 17 June (17) and will be markedly different from its former version. While the original saw three individuals of the same sex introduced to the audience before they were then asked questions by a contestant of the opposite sex, who then chose which person they wanted to go on a date with. This time though, LGBT contestants will be appearing on the programme for the first time, with Channel 5 also introducing "thematic twists" to "breathe new life" into the show.

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