Paul O'Grady felt Cilla Black's spirit during filming Blind Date

Paul O’Grady knew it would be tough when he bravely stepped into his pal Cilla Black’s shoes and agreed to host the new ‘Blind Date’.

The comedian has now said he felt like he was turning into his good friend during the making of iconic dating show that she helmed for 18 years and he even borrowed her beloved catchphrase.

Cilla Black was buried at St Mary’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images)
Cilla Black was buried at St Mary’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images)

Paul, 61, admitted the Channel 5 programme has brought him close to Cilla again since she died after a fall at her Spanish home in 2015.

Paul said: “I could feel myself morphing into Cilla, the arms were going up and the voice would go down – and I said, ‘What is your name number one and where do you come from?’ I even said ‘we are gonna have a lorra lorra laughs’.”

Paul O'Grady and Cilla Black/Rex Photos
Paul O’Grady and Cilla Black (Rex Photos)

And Paul, who was initially unsure about becoming the show’s new host, revealed he has already received positive feedback on the programme from some of his close pals.

He told the Daily Star newspaper: “My mate said, ‘You are sort of a bit like her’ – and I said ‘No, I cannot sing and I haven’t got red hair.'”

Earlier this month, Paul promised TV viewers that Cilla will still be part of the revamped programme.

The one and only Cilla Black.
The one and only Cilla Black.

He said: “I can get away with saying things about her because we’re mates. Somebody who didn’t know her couldn’t do that because it might be seen as disrespectful. I can say, ‘She left me this in her will. Thanks, Cilla.’

“You can’t ignore her. It was such an iconic show and she was synonymous with it. It would be disrespectful not to mention her.

“The old girl will be living on. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Cilla Black and Paul O'Grady/Rex Photos
Cilla Black and Paul O’Grady (Rex Photos)

Paul also said he is proud the show will be embracing “diversity” and will feature same-sex couples, as well as older people looking for love.

He explained: “We’ve moved on now, haven’t we? I didn’t even have to fight for that, they were all for it. We’ve got the over-70s too. You name it, we’ve got it. We’ve gone big time for diversity.”

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