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Paul O’Grady to host Blind Date

The telly favourite will replace close pal Cilla Black who hosted the show for 18 years, when it relaunches this summer.

The new show will go out on Channel 5 this summer with the Birkenhead-born telly star at the helm after 13 years off air.

Late legend Cilla, who died in August 2015, famously hosted the show on ITV before it was cancelled in 2003 after she quit during a live episode after ratings fell to just 2.9million viewers.

She and Paul were best pals – with the comic reading the eulogy at her funeral nearly two years ago.

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.”

Bosses say the revamped show will “pay respect” to the traditions of the original, but will be updated for 2017.

They will welcome LGBT contestants for the first time and there will be “thematic twists” which producers hope will breathe new life into the show.

It will be filmed at London Studios on the South Bank, home of the original series, and be produced by So Television, which makes the The Graham Norton Show and Stellify Media, a firm part-owned by Sony Pictures Television.

ITV allowed Channel 5 to take the popular series because it already has dating shows Take Me Out and Meet The Parents and bosses believe the revamped show will not damage their performances.

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