New Blind Date host Paul O'Grady paid a heartwarming tribute to his predecessor and friend Cilla Black as the show returned for the first time since 2003.

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Blind Date paid tribute to its beloved former host Cilla Black as it returned to TV screens after 14 years.

New host Paul O’Grady offered some thoughts on his friend and predecessor in the dating programme’s first show since Channel 5 opted to reboot it.

He said: “It’s been 14 years since Blind Date has been on our screens and it was presented of course by the late, great and my friend, Miss Cilla Black.

“Let’s hear it for her. The woman who gave me two heart attacks and broke my nose in a Jacuzzi. Oh god, I don’t half miss her, I tell you.”

Cilla, who died in August 2015, hosted the dating show from 1985 until 2003.

Its return was lauded after 14 years off TV screens.

Paul was praised by viewers although the show’s set failed to impress.

@ziabell tweeted: I love how on they’re quite faithful to the original but I dislike the set, bit too much like a nightclub

@benlarder tweeted: Paul O’Grady is great, as usual, but this has ‘made to a budget’ written all over it

@ErnestGromov wrote: So nice to see this original innocent non-vulgar format show back and good ol’ Paul O’Grady @channel5_tv

The 62-year-old host oversaw two match-ups and enjoyed making plenty of innuendos throughout.

The first single on the show since 2003 was 29-year-old Debbie from Southport, who chose to date Richard, 27, from Bristol, to the delight of the crowd.

They were sent to play junkyard golf together while the second couple, Damian, 34, from Rugby, and Cara, 30, from Belfast, are off to play ping pong before returning for next week’s show.

Channel 5′s decision to bring in Paul for the reboot was well received on Twitter, with fans warming to his sense of humour.

Blind Date returns on Saturday June 24 at 7pm on Channel 5.