Paul O’Grady: ‘I’d rather have Helen from Corrie than Madonna’

Paul O’Grady tells TV Times magazine about his chat show comeback, on ITV this Monday, pressure from the public and why soap stars make the best guests…

Are you excited about the return of your teatime series The Paul O’Grady Show?
“I’m looking forward to some human company for a change and not being wee’d on. I just want a nice dressing room with a toilet!”

Why did you decide to return to do the show for a limited run?
“They asked me and I said, ‘Yeah go on then, I fancy that’, because it’s not a career move, it’s just a lovely five weeks. If I thought I was going in for six months I’d start getting itchy feet!”

Did you know that the fans were keen for you to come back?
“Every time I got in a cab the driver would ask me when I was coming back to teatime. Since it was announced lots of people have come up to me and said that it’s wonderful news, so that’s encouraging.”

Why do you think the programme is such a hit?
“I’ll tell you what it is, it’s quite a warm show really, it’s not hostile. When I talk to the guests I’d never dream of asking them anything untoward and we get nice members of the public on, who have had interesting experiences.”

The live element of the show really gives it some magic, too!
“The show is live so things can go wrong and they frequently do, often instigated by me. Like when they’re trying to wind me up to get into the ad break and I’ll be in the middle of a conversation. I’ll say, ‘Do you mind? I’m not interested in the adverts!’ And then we have the postbag and read out birthdays. Who does that on telly now? No one! But people love it.”

You presented a primetime chat show, too. Why do you prefer the five o’clock slot?
“I much prefer it, because in the evening you’re supposed to be glossy, but at teatime there’s a bit of anarchy and you can have mad things like gravy wrestling! People are just coming in from work or making a meal, they don’t want in-depth interviews. The show should be really frothy – the lightest of light entertainment really.”

We hear that your upcoming line-up of guests include Alan Carr, Louis Walsh, Cliff Richard and Jennifer Saunders. Do you have any other guests confirmed yet?
“Helen Worth, who plays Gail in Corrie, is coming on. She never goes on anything, but I’ve found through experience that the public would much rather have Helen than Madonna. Soap stars come into people’s homes every night and we feel we know them. They’re telly icons and they’re always a joy to talk to. Graham Norton can have Robert De Niro – I don’t really want him!”

Is your adorable dog Olga excited to be coming back to the show too?
“She’s absolutely chomping at the bit to get on!”

Will your new dog Eddie, who you adopted from Battersea, be making an appearance?
“I’ll bring him on and see how he goes but I reckon he’ll just stand on the desk and bark at the guests! He’s a bit feisty with strangers. Either that or he’ll curl up in a ball and get inside my coat, in which case I won’t take him on again.”

Are you looking forward to Christmas this year?
“As I’m getting older I’m finding that I get a little bit Christmassy. I’m thawing slightly and I catch myself smiling at things on the telly. Only a little bit though. I’m still The Grinch!”


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