BBC pays tribute to late Paul O’Grady as it reveals plans to scrap Bradley Walsh’s Blankety Blank in favour of 1998 episode starring Lily Savage
- Read more: Paul had ‘no fear’ of death and predicted his own passing
- Paul O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio shares last photo of the couple together
BBC One will broadcast a classic episode of Blankety Blank this weekend in memory of presenter and comedian Paul O’Grady.
Paul, who passed away ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ aged 67 on Tuesday night, fronted the game show in-character as drag queen Lily Savage, between 1997 and 2002.
The channel has now announced a 1998 episode starring Rebecca Callard, Sophie Lawrence, Davina McCall, Sir Ian McKellen, Gray O’Brien and the late Dale Winton will air on Saturday night at 7pm.
It replaces the already-scheduled episode of Blankety Blank, currently hosted by Bradley Walsh, which was due to be shown at the same time.
It comes after ITV announced Paul’s final television appearance will air next month when the new series of For the Love of Dogs is shown.
Gesture: The BBC will pay tribute to the late Paul O’Grady as they’ve revealed plans to scrap Bradley Walsh’s Blankety Blank in favour of a 1998 episode starring Lily Savage
The final series – encapsulating his own passion for animals with raising awareness for the rehoming of rescue dogs – was shot before Paul’s death but will be shown from Thursday, April 13, as planned.
Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs: A Royal Special was repeated on Wednesday and a special tribute programme For the Love of Paul O’Grady on Sunday at 8pm.
ITV’s managing director of media and entertainment, Kevin Lygo said: ‘We are fortunate to have had a long association with Paul, at ITV. He was a huge, inimitable talent, delighting our viewers through his comedy and entertainment with a warmth, humour and joy that audiences of all generations related to and connected with.
‘He had a profound passion for animals too, which resonated with so many viewers, and For the Love of Dogs remains one of our best-loved series, and a really special programme for so many.
‘All those who worked with Paul are shocked and deeply saddened at his passing and the thoughts of everyone at ITV are with Paul’s loved ones.’
As tributes poured in for the showbiz legend, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where the series was filmed, also shared a statement for the star.
It read: ‘Battersea joins the nation in mourning the loss of Paul O’Grady – an entertainment legend and much-loved Ambassador to our charity.
‘We’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to Paul’s family and friends. To millions Paul O’Grady is the popular TV and radio presenter and comedian who lit up their screens with his razor-sharp humour and perpetual generosity and warmth.
Scrapped: It replaces the already-scheduled episode of Blankety Blank, currently hosted by Bradley, which was due to be shown at the same time
Iconic: Paul, who passed away ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ aged 67 on Tuesday night, fronted the game show in-character as drag queen Lily Savage, between 1997 and 2002
‘Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell in love with every dog he met at our centres. Paul will always be associated with Battersea, and we are truly saddened to have lost such a true friend and huge part of our charity.’
The show has been running since 2012 and Paul later became an ambassador for the shelter following its runaway success on TV.
He was awarded special recognition in 2018 at the National Television Awards for the impact the show had on rehoming rescue animals nationwide.
During an interview during the first series he said it was ‘hand on heart… one of the nicest jobs I’ve ever had’ and praised the home as ‘a magical place’.
While hosting the show, there were several dogs that Paul was unable to watch go without a home who he brought back to his Kent farmhouse.
During the first series of the show, Paul adopted Chihuahua Jack Russell-cross Eddie, who was later joined by Boycie, a shih-tzu in 2014, Conchita, a Maltese in 2015, Arfur, a mongrel puppy in 2017, Nancy, another mongrel puppy in 2020, and Sausage, a wire-haired dachshund in 2021.
Paul presented the show for 11 series and it has since been reported that the programme may continue under a new host.
A PR expert recently revealed that they think his beloved show can continue on in Paul’s legacy with someone like Stephen Mulhern fronting it.
Passion: It comes after ITV announced Paul’s final television appearance will air next month when the new series of For the Love of Dogs is shown
Tragic: The final series – encapsulating his own passion for animals with raising awareness for the rehoming of rescue dogs – was shot before Paul’s death
PR expert Jack Cooper from EdHopkins PR told Entertainment Daily: ‘In my perspective, For The Love Of Dogs will forever remain synonymous with Paul’s name, having presented the entire series, it’s apparent that Paul played a pivotal role in the show’s success.
‘Although I firmly believe that no one can replace Paul, I do believe that the show’s legacy could continue under a new presenter who shares the same passion for animals. However, it’s crucial for the producers of the show to be cautious when selecting a replacement’.
The PR guru called Stephen a ‘national treasure’ and thought the ITV star could be a good replacement for Paul, who was so loved by viewers.
Nick Ede of East of Eden, however, believes the show wouldn’t be the same without Paul fronting it as he said: ‘His charm and kindness shone though in everything he did and this is why he is a Royal favourite and wont be replacable, he will be a hard act to follow and I don’t think anyone will be quite like Paul O’Grady.’
MailOnline contacted ITV for comment at the time.
Paul became a household name in the early noughties, known for his wit and love of animals, and hosted a string of television programmes including his self-titled daytime chat show, The Paul O’Grady Show, which began airing in 2004.
He also took over the reins from Blind Date’s long-running presenter and his close friend Cilla to host the Channel 5 reboot of the show in 2017. And he fronted Blankety Blank, as well as ITV’s award-winning For The Love Of Dogs.
Announcing his death on Tuesday, Paul’s partner Portasio said: ‘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.’
Paul’s cause of death is yet to be announced.
Lily Savage’s Blankety Blank will be broadcast on Saturday 1 April 2023 at 7pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
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