Amanda Holden is being lined up to replace Paul O’Grady as presenter of the popular canine reality show For The Love of Dogs, according to reports.
Television producers are planning to go ahead with a new series that gives a behind-the-scenes look at life in Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, two months after the much-loved comedian died suddenly at the age of 67. The future of the show was thrown into doubt when O’Grady died suddenly at his home in Aldington, Kent, but it has been suggested in showbiz circles that Holden, a close friend of the late star, could be taking over.
It’s believed that chiefs at both ITV and the refuge in Battersea were hoping that the series would continue to put the limelight on the home and raise awareness of the work they do for animals in need. However, sources claimed that raising the subject of a new series so soon was too sensitive, given that the TV presenter and former drag queen had died just two months earlier.
READ MORE: Paul O’Grady fans in tears as late star meets frightened abused dog
A source told The Sun: “Execs just feel like it’s too soon to make firm plans about the series, as it’s barely been two months since he died — but the feeling at the home is that it’s what Paul would have wanted. After all, he cared deeply about the animals in Battersea.”
Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs has run for 10 series broadcast so far, as well as some specials, and during its run the comedian himself ended up adopting several strays from the animal shelter, including a puppy he adopted during the pandemic.
The show included some guest appearances, most notably Queen Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall, who often appeared alongside O’Grady to raise awareness of the cause.
The Queen has herself rehomed two dogs from Battersea — Jack Russells Beth and Bluebell. After his programmes aired, Battersea would often be inundated with donations and offers from those eager to help out or adopt dogs.
During the latest edition of the programme, aired after Paul’s death, viewers were left in floods of tears as the comic met an abused dog with the “saddest face”, according to The Mirror. The spaniel was found abandoned and it became immediately clear that it had been subjected to appalling abuse by its previous owners, which made the creature extremely wary of people.
Determined to help, O’Grady spoke to a behavioural expert at the shelter, who advised him to build trust with ‘Murphy’ by playing little games. After persisting with putting dog treats from a cup into a bowl to maintain Murphy’s attention, he was eventually able to reach out and stroke the spaniel.
“Is that not the saddest face you’ve ever seen?” he said to the camera. At first, Murphy moved away but by the end of the session, O’Grady was able to pet the dog.
“Very small steps but great process,” he said, adding: “If you’ve ever felt like crying it’s now.”
According to the source, Britain’s Got Talent judge Holden was seen as a natural choice to take over the job, “not just because she’s an experienced presenter but because she also cares about the home and would do anything for them.”
ITV have been approached for comment.