Paul O’Grady has revealed he plans to write a book about his late friend Cilla Black.
The TV presenter died after a fall at her Spanish home on 1 August, aged 72, and Paul said he will immortalise her legacy – and their friendship and escapades – on the page.
Paul O’Grady and Cilla Black (Yui Mok/PA)
“There’s a book there with me and Cilla, there’s probably a couple. If I do write another memoir I will intertwine that with Cilla,” he said.
“We had so many laughs. We had such a good time. Me and Cilla always got into trouble and I always got the blame!”
“She wasn’t scared of anything and she was up for anything. I used to take her to these dog-rough Puerto Rican clubs in New York, where the taxi driver would say, ‘Are you sure you want me to drop you off here?’ But they played fabulous music.
“I’d say to Cilla, ‘Give us your jewellery’, so off would come the diamond ring and the necklace, I’d put them in my pocket and then we’d go in and have a ball!
Paul wants to write about Cilla (Steve Parsons/PA)
“They were working-class clubs but there was never any trouble, even though they’d be in the parts of town where you wouldn’t dare tread. But she would always say she felt safe with me.”
Paul – who has kept in touch with Cilla’s sons, Robert, Ben and Jack – said he would probably get their blessing.
“Well, they know with me, she’d be safe. They’d rather me do it than anyone else. It would just be about two people having fun and what we got up to.”
He continued: “I’ve got a great memory for conversations and situations. People say my memory’s scary. There’s loads of material. I would never be disrespectful to her.”
Jackie Collins (John Stillwell/PA)
Birkenhead-born Paul, who has released his fourth memoir Open The Cage, Murphy, said he is still in disbelief about Cilla’s death, as well as the death of Jackie Collins, who died from breast cancer at her Californian home on 19 September. She was aged 77.
“What with Cilla going and then Jackie, I’m just hanging on in there. The effect has been terrible, shocking,” admitted the entertainer, who first found fame as drag queen Lily Savage.
“I still haven’t got to grips with Cilla going. When I came back from Borneo, I said, ‘I must ring Cilla’, and then I thought, ‘What am I talking about?’ You just forget they’re not there any more. And I only spoke to Jackie just before I went.
“It hasn’t really sunk in. I haven’t had time to breathe, because we were haring around Borneo with all manner of critters. I haven’t had time to sit and dwell on it.”
Paul O’Grady (John Stillwell/PA)
Paul has thrown himself into work to cope with his loss. His trip to the rainforests of Borneo, where he befriended orang-utans, was for a new series of ITV’s Animal Orphans. Previous series saw Paul tending to orphaned elephants and penguins in Zambia and South Africa.
“Work always helps,” he said. “It takes your mind off everything.
“I’m a great believer in that. When you’re working, you’re preoccupied, so you have to focus all your attention on your work and you forget everything else for a few hours.”