The Liverpudlian comic was announced as the new host of the upcoming Channel 5 reboot of the classic dating show, taking over from his late best friend, who presented its entire original run from 1985 to 2003.
Speaking to The Mirror about succeeding Cilla in the role, he said: “When they asked me I said no, because it’s so firmly associated with Cilla.
Paul also insisted the new series would honour Cilla’s memory, as well as remaining “true” to its roots of good, clean humour.
He said: “We’ll make references to Cilla because it was her show and to ignore her and say ‘Welcome to Blind Date’ as if it was new would be silly. Especially for me, we were so close. She’ll be hovering around, put it that way.”
A shake-up of the show will see LGBT+ contestants able to participate, unlike in the original ITV series, a move which Paul hailed as “brilliant”.
Cilla’s son, Robert, previously spoke out to praise Paul’s casting, telling The Mirror: “Mum would have been very happy. If there was anyone she’d have wanted to do it, it would be him. He’ll make it his own.
It has also been rumoured Paul will be joined on ‘Blind Date’ by ‘I’m A Celebrity’ winner-turned-presenter Vicky Pattison, who Robert had previously been supportive of when she was first linked to the show.
‘Blind Date’ launches on Channel 5 in the summer.