Paul O’Grady spoke of the “joy” he felt when he returned to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for his long-running ITV show in an interview conducted before his death.
The presenter, who died “unexpectedly but peacefully” last week at the age of 67, visited the charity for the upcoming series of Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs.
In the interview for the show, O’Grady was asked how he felt returning to the animal rescue centre for another season, and said: “It’s always such a joy to be back at Battersea. It really is my second home and I’m part of the furniture now.
“There are some smashing dogs in the new series, they really are lovely. But some sad stories as well and of course there is a dog that I fall in love with too. There always is.
ITV is changing its schedule to air a tribute to the late broadcaster – who presented a string of programmes across the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, including Blankety Blank, The Big Breakfast, Blind Date and The Paul O’Grady Show – called For The Love Of Paul O’Grady on Sunday.
The broadcaster has asked the public to share their video memories at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ITV also reshowed Paul O’Grady’s For The Love of Dogs: A Royal Special on Wednesday, which featured an appearance from the Queen Consort.
When talking about his new 11th series, O’Grady said he had been “obsessed” with a Newfoundland called Peggy, who he said was the “size of a donkey” and “so loving”.
He added: “I thought, ‘I can’t bring her back, I don’t know what (my dogs) would say’. Especially Eddie, my Chihuahua – he’d go for him.
“Eddie’s got no idea of his own size, he’d be straight in for a fight, even though we’ve got bigger rats than Eddie.”
During the first series of the show, O’Grady rehomed Chihuahua-Jack Russell cross puppy Eddie at his Kent farmhouse.
This addition was followed 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.
The comedian, also known as his drag alter ego, the acerbic, platinum wig-wearing Lily Savage, had said the way people treat animals “never fails to shock” or “surprise” him .
He added: “I remember a spaniel coming in called Murphy, he’d been found somewhere tied up and dumped.
“Oh, the state of him. He just sat in the corner of the kennel looking at the wall and it took us ages to reassure him but it’s so great to see the difference in him when we do, to see him trust humans again.”
Following his death, Battersea set up a fund dedicated to the late presenter, who became an ambassador for Battersea in 2012, which has seen more than £200,000 donated to the charity so far.
O’Grady also said: “It’s like I’ve always said, the series is a Cinderella story. This poor dog comes in, often in an appalling state, unloved, and then the staff come in with their patience and kindness and medication and experience and they transform the dog and it goes off to a nice home.
“Sadly not every dog can have a happy ending but to make this programme is a privilege, even when it means rolling around on the floor of the kennels with the dogs all day.”
For his efforts, he was given a special recognition award at the 2018 National Television Awards for the impact the series had on helping find homes for rescue animals nationwide.
His contribution to animal welfare was also recognised with an RSPCA animal hero award.
– Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs returns on Thursday April 13 at 8.30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.