Paul O’Grady: ‘I would consider being a BGT judge’

TV Times talks to Paul O’Grady about his new primetime show Paul O’Grady Live (ITV1, Friday, Sept 10), his salacious second autobiography and the idea of judging Britain’s Got Talent…

How’s your nose?

“It’s still sore from when I bust it in Cilla’s hot tub in February! I’d never been in one before, so of course I got in, fell and smashed the bridge of my nose and fractured my jaw. I should have sued her!”

What have you been up to recently?

“I have been visiting family in Liverpool. I love going up there – it’s like going back to my tribe. Even though I haven’t lived there for 35 years, as soon as I get off the train at Lime Street a woman will shout, ‘Hiya Paul!’”

How are you feeling about the new show?

“I’m looking forward to it! What’s the point of getting in a lather? There’s a sense of anticipation, but once I’m out there I’m home. My friend Sue Johnston always used to say, ‘This show’s dangerous because you forget you’re on telly’. It just feels like we’re sat in the kitchen having a cup of tea and chatting.”

How are things down on the farm?

“My house is like Fred Carno’s circus – Julian Clary calls us The Dingles! Blanche is so sweet. I have to cover her in suntan oil in the hot weather and slather her in aloe vera. A bit of Chanel and she’s the sweetest smelling pig in Kent!”

Has having all the animals changed you?

“I can’t eat bacon now. I can’t eat pork, lamb, chicken or eggs. I’m dreading getting fond of a lettuce, because I’m going to starve!”

So it is very different from your early life on the comedy circuit?

“When I was younger I never saw daylight, let alone domestication like this! I’m learning how to grow vegetables, pickle onions and make jam. I don’t even like jam!”

Any other new interests?

“Alternative medicine. I’ve got a great big tome full of home cures that I bought in Yorkshire, it looks like a spell book. I’d like to study herbology – maybe that’s next. Imagine anyone taking me seriously on a programme about self-treatment. Imagine the letters I’d get – ‘I tried your cure for gout and I’ve lost a foot!'”

You have also got your second autobiography, The Devil Rides Out. Out coming out this month?

“Yes. There’s all sorts in it – hookers, drag queens, you name it. It makes Belle du Jour look like the Readers Digest! I’ve been really honest, like I was in the last one. It feels like I’m writing about someone else though. That teenager is not me now. I had a lot of drive then, I was full of optimism. Now I haven’t got a glass half empty or a glass half full – now I’m not even at the pub!”

And it is all your own work?

“Yes. I write at night when the house is quiet, so I start at 11pm and finish at 4am. I go to bed buzzing! I’ve become a bit more guarded about the second book. I’m like Gollum from Lord of the Rings – ‘Don’t touch my laptop, it’s mine, my precious!’ I’ve already started on the third one though, because I miss it so much!”

And you’re reviving Lily Savage for a panto this Christmas. What will that be like?

“I’ll be fine. It’s like riding a bike. The costumes needed to be aired though, so there’s a selection of Lily Savage stuff hanging on the washing line – thank God I’ve got no neighbours!”

What about rumours you may be a judge on Britain’s Got Talent?

“I have not been formally approached, but I would consider it. I think that show needs something now. I’d be a very practical judge. I wouldn’t do anything snide, no sniggering behind my hand. I’m cursed with a conscience, so I’d let them down nicely – you don’t have to rip them to shreds. Unless of course they’re these hideous, arrogant monsters who come out and start abusing the judges – then I’d let them have it!”