Animal-loving presenter Paul O’Grady talks to TV Times magazine about his old pal Buster, taking a break from chat shows and winning Crufts for Battersea Dogs Home!

We know you love dogs, Paul, so have you been tempted to take home any canine friends while filming your new series Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs (ITV1, Monday, September 3)?
“I can’t get over it, I’m surprised I’m not walking off with half a dozen dogs! I’ve fallen in love with loads of them though – I’m a mug!”

We hear you nearly adopted a handsome white Boxer called Carmine…
“He was a lovely dog and we just bonded. He wasn’t the prettiest – he malted, he slobbered and he had a dislocated hip, but none of that bothered me.”

What happened to him?
“He went to a really nice couple so I let him go, but I’ve got a big picture of us hanging up in the hall, so he’s for ever in my heart.”

Why did you want to present this show?
“I’ve always wanted to do an animal show – I used to drop hints like gas stoves! This is an ideal job for me and it’s good for the soul. You come in of a morning and you’re hand-rearing Chihuahua puppies – it’s heaven on a stick! It’s so far removed from all this materialism and celebrity nonsense.”

Are you enjoying having a break from your chat shows?
“I met fabulous people and became pals with great names like Roger Moore, Lauren Bacall and Diana Rigg, but I just wanted a break. It was a hoot though. I’d come in and they’d say, ‘You’re dressing up as a sausage today’, and I wouldn’t flinch!”

We loved seeing you with your beloved dog Buster, who sadly had to be put to sleep in 2009…
“I was surprised at my reaction when he died, I was bereft. I’ve lost so many friends over the years, but that wasn’t as heartbreaking as Buster dying. I still miss him to this day. I’ve no time for people who say, ‘It’s only a dog’ – they obviously haven’t had a pet.”

With such a love of animals, has it been difficult to watch abused and neglected dogs arrive at Battersea Dog’s Home?
“I’ve been very angry and wondered how people can be so cruel. I always think if you can do that to an animal you can do that to a child – they’re harmless creatures. But I said I’m not crying on camera, there’s too much crying on television these days!”

What do you think people will love about your show?
“It’s a very joyous programme and there isn’t anything like it on TV at the moment – everything has a judge on it, and it’s all dancing, skating or singing. I just hope it raises Battersea’s profile so that responsible people take some of the dogs, preferably the old ones – that would make me very happy.”