Paul O’Grady: ‘Never get a dog for Christmas – get one when it’s quiet and not pandemonium!’

Paul O’Grady is back to tug at the heart-strings with more heartbreaking doggy tales and uplifting rescues at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home on For The Love of Dogs at Christmas (ITV, Christmas Day)…

Tell us what’s in store this Christmas at Battersea?

“There are some heartbreakers in this one. There’s little Patti, she came in and we thought she was brown until we washed her and she’s snow white. She was covered in fleas and she had a huge growth on her neck. They removed it and she’s just lovely. She looks like Tintin’s dog, Snowy. And then there’s a huge bull mastiff with a cross eye. She’s as sweet as a kitten, but taking her out she’s like donkey! They’re all so loving. You think ‘you’ve been kicked around and abused.’ But they’re still so trusting and that’s what upsets me the most.”

Is that old slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ still relevant?

“I would not suggest getting a dog over Christmas because it’s a stressful time, you’ve got a house full of people which is stressful for the dog as well. It’s just not the right time. Never get one for Christmas – get one when it’s quiet and not pandemonium.”

Have you always loved dogs?

“Yeah. I’ve always loved animals. I used to have a ferret when I was little. I had a snake, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats, rabbits, you name it. And my poor mother, because she wasn’t an animal lover, she’d open the airing cupboard and there’d be a pigeon in there! The ferret used to know my mum didn’t like it and it used to plague her.”

What are you doing for Christmas?

“Normally I’ve got flu at Christmas because I’m in panto and it’s the one day you’ve got off so as soon as you get off the treadmill you crash. But I’ve had the flu jab so I’ll probably just have it at home and get some friends round. I’m not a big fan of Christmas since I’ve got older, I can’t be bothered with it. But I put the tree up, I do all the banisters.

“If you walk in my house you think ‘This is somebody who’s obsessed with Christmas’. But then you’ve got me, the Grinch who hates it!”

Do you think we’ll see a return of your chat show in 2015?

“I’ll do it for a short period. Last time we did it for 6 weeks and it’s alright but when you do it for 16 it becomes like a factory. But it is a laugh. I’d consider it if it was a short run because then we all have fun. They’ll say to me ‘oh we’ve got a great idea, we’re going to bury you in custard.’ And I’ll go ‘oh wonderful.’ And then go ‘what have I said?!'”

Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs will air on ITV on Christmas Day at 5.50pm