ITV For The Love Of Dogs: Paul O’Grady’s close friendship with showbiz legend Cilla Black and the pretty Kent village where he lives on a farm

Before her death in 2015, at the age of 72, the great, late Cilla Black had a somewhat surprising decades-long friendship with fellow TV star – Paul O’Grady. Cilla, a former singer, and Paul, a former drag queen, were no strangers to the entertainment industry when both of their careers peaked as television presenters.

While Cilla hosted the hit dating show Blind Date for a breathtaking 18 years, from 1985 to 2003, Paul is still best known for his chat shows, including The Paul O’Grady Show and Paul O’Grady: For the Love. of Dogs. Cilla actually presented guest editions of The Paul O’Grady Show in 2006, while Paul himself took over the reins of Blind Date from 2017 to 2019.

Paul was devastated when Cilla Black passed away, after the two had been close friends for over 15 years and even vacationed across the world together. Reminiscing about what made their surprising friendship work so well for a 2020 interview, he said, “She was a hoot. It was great working with her. Because you could really tell him anything.

“She was like, ‘Go ahead, don’t forget now, it’s me. Don’t treat me like bloody porcelain. Enter one. So she’d come on my show and I’d put a trash bag on the couch.

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Paul O’Grady and Cilla Black in a taxi for dinner together during the filming of Paul O’Grady’s America

Paul added: “She told horrible stories about me. It was a boxing match between us, but friendly. And it was one that the public loved because it got a glimpse of a private life. .

Following Cilla’s death on Saturday August 1, 2015 after suffering a stroke following a fall at his Spanish villa, Paul gave a moving speech at his funeral in his hometown of Liverpool. He told the congregation: “I was very fond of this lady, she was one of my closest friends. I absolutely adored her.”

In an interview with Closer magazine shortly after Cilla’s death, the TV star admitted the news left him in a “strange state” and “not in the mood to party”. Describing how it was ‘destroyed’ after his friend’s funeral, Paul said: ‘After someone close to you died you are in a strange state for a while. I withdrew a little and came back to myself. my work.”

He added: “We were so close. We knew what each other was thinking. We had a special bond. I was like, ‘You’ll see me again, you’ and I was wrong, right?”



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Although he admitted that Cilla’s death made him think more about “mortality”, Paul showed no signs of wanting to retire after the news. The 66-year-old lives on a beautiful farm in Kent, which he shares with his beloved animal entourage.

Paul occasionally shares a glimpse of his idyllic life on the farm with his 593,000 Instagram followers, including his adorable dogs, New Zealand pigs, goats, kittens and even his little cheetahs.

In 2017, Paul married his longtime partner André Portasio, whom he met in 2006, at the Goring Hotel in London.

André is a ballet dancer who has performed with the English National Ballet and performed in several productions over the years including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

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