Cilla Black fought for same-sex couples to appear on Blind Date before the show ended in 2003, explains new host Paul O’Grady exclusively to Gay Times.
The presenter, who steps into the fabulous shoes of his beloved friend to host a revamp of the show on Channel 5, told us how Cilla fought “desperately” for LGBT+ inclusion on the show – but it never became a reality on the former ITV show.
Paul confirmed that discussions – led by Cilla – took place before she left the show in 2003. However, they sadly weren’t met with open arms by some…
“At the time it was ‘oh no, we can’t have that.’ Because you know what the press are like. ‘Filth, disgusting’. I love it when they get on their high horse and ride up to high moral grounds because the air must be very thin up there, that’s all I can say,” he tells us.
“They really piss me off, I feel like saying ‘it’s time to move on, get over yourselves,’ but they don’t do they? You only have to read comments to realise what we’re dealing with, fucking shocking. I thought homophobia was dead, but it’s not. It’s alive and bloody well.”
However, the new addition of gay, lesbian and bi contestants to the revamped show, it seems, is all thanks to Paul and the show’s new home on Channel 5…
“I got the elephants out the room immediately,” he reveals of how life on Blind Date just got a little more inclusive. “I said to the first girl, ‘What’s the lesbian scene like in New Zealand?’ She said, ‘Bloody awful.’ I said, ‘Is that why you’ve come over here?’ She went, ‘Yeah, I’m woman mad.’ They were really open and honest. It was great. The audience were fabulous and I thought that worked.
“Channel 5, they’re right up for it – they were insistent on it, in fact. Because we’ve moved on,” he told Gay Times. “It’s 2017, you’ve got to educate people. It’s no longer boy meets girl. It’s boy meets boy, girl meets girl, boy meets whoever, whatever floats your boat. You have to acknowledge that. You can’t just have same old, same old. We’ve got the elderly coming in as well so there will be the over 70s.”
Paul added: “I think it’s really brave of them to make this step, ‘cos the others wouldn’t. Imagine the BBC? It wouldn’t happen, it just wouldn’t happen. It’s done as a normal date. I don’t say, ‘And now we’re going to meet our next contestants who are gay.’ There’s none of that.
“Take it as you want it, if you don’t like it turn over. That’s my attitude. That’s always been my bloody attitude. If you don’t like it, sod off. Sorry, I’m not changing it or toning it down for you.”
Want to read more? Download the latest issue of Gay Times for our exclusive chat with Paul here.
— Gay Times Magazine (@GayTimesMag) June 22, 2017