blind-date

Blind Date viewers praise Paul O'Grady as he fills in Cilla Black's shoes

Paul O'Grady took the reins from late friend Cilla Black

by Sharnaz Shahid

Blind Date viewers have praised Paul O'Grady after he took over hosting duties for the newly-revamped series on Channel 5. The popular dating show, which was originally made famous by the late Cilla Black in the nineties, returned to TV screens on Saturday night after 14 years. The show sees a new generation of love-seeking contestants compete against each other to find their perfect match, while hiding behind the legendary sliding panel.

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Paul O'Grady took over from late friend Cilla Black

Fans rushed to Twitter to congratulate the new host, with one commenting: "Never been so happy to see Paul O'Grady back on TV. #BlindDate." Another added: "Just caught up and watched Blind Date with Paul O'Grady, Paul you did Cilla proud #BlindDate." A third post read: "#BlindDate has been on for five minutes and I’m in love. Feel like Cilla would approve. This is what the UK needs right now." Another said: "#BlindDate is back on C5 and it's already brilliant. Paul O'Grady is superb, as always!"

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At the start of the show, Paul made sure he paid a touching tribute to his late friend and former host, Cilla. "The reason I'm doing this show is because a certain person left this to me in her will," he told the audience. "It's been 14 years since Blind Date was last on our screens and it was presented of course by the late, great, and my friend, Cilla Black. Let's hear it for her!" He added: "The woman who gave me two heart attacks and broke my nose in a Jacuzzi. Oh god I don't half miss her. But it doesn't seem like 14 years, does it?"

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It comes as no surprise that Blind Date was a ratings hit. It has been reported that Channel 5 saw a peak of two million viewers tune in for the first episode. Ben Frow, controller of Channel 5, said: "We are really pleased that so many people came to Channel 5 to watch the launch of Blind Date on Saturday night and hope they enjoy the rest of the series."