Final farewell | 

Paul O’Grady makes final TV outing in new series of dog rescue show

The animal champion died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at the age of 67 at home in Kent on Tuesday evening

Paul O'Grady with one of his canine friends. Photo: Channel Four

Deirdre ReynoldsSunday World

BELOVED Paul O’Grady returns to the small screen for the last time in a brand new series of For the Love of Dogs next month.

The animal champion died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at the age of 67 at home in Kent on Tuesday evening, it was confirmed by his husband-of-six-years Andre Portasio.

Poignantly, the presenter makes what is now his final outing on the award-winning show when it returns to ITV1 for an 11th season on Thursday 14 April.

Set at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in south London, the popular documentary series - also aired at a later date on Virgin Media One here - premiered in 2012, and has since seen the part-Irish presenter help to rehome hundreds of down-at-heel dogs.

Better known to some as drag star Lily Savage, kind-hearted Paul is believed to be survived by a fur family of five rescue dogs, Nancy, Arfur, Conchita, Eddie and Sausage, whom he fell in love with on the programme last February.

"I took this hairy little monster home. She's called Sausage, which isn't very original but it doesn't matter as she can't understand a word of English except 'biscuit'," he told followers on Instagram at the time.

The Blankety Blank host also leaves behind a menagerie of animals including chickens, pigs, sheep and goats at the couple’s Adlington farmhouse.

Describing him as a champion for the underdog, the animal shelter yesterday paid tribute to its most famous ambassador: “Battersea will forever remember Paul as a devoted animal lover with the biggest heart, who fell head over heels in love with every dog he met at our centres.”

British Queen Consort Camilla, who last year appeared in a special one-off episode to mark 160 years of the charity, was also “deeply saddened” to hear of his death, following “lots of laughter and many waggy-tailed memories”, according to a Buckingham Palace statement.

Meanwhile, tributes poured in from the world of showbiz, with pal Lorraine Kelly adding: “I always think dogs are the best judge of character and they ADORED him.”

A special episode dedicated to the presenter, For the Love of Paul O’Grady, is also scheduled to air on Easter Sunday on ITV1.

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