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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 12:25 GMT
Blind Date to continue
Cilla Black
Black had denied she was being replaced by Trisha
TV bosses are searching for a replacement for one of its most popular TV shows, Blind Date, following presenter Cilla Black's decision to quit after 18 years.

Black, 59, announced she was leaving the show during a live special on Saturday, telling viewers she was considering several "new and exciting" television offers.

Although Black has been the face of Blind Date since it launched in 1985, ITV insists the show will return with a new presenter.

But production company Granada is keeping tight-lipped about who it is hopes to sign up for the popular dating game show.

A number of presenters have been mentioned as possible replacements for Black, who will continue fronting the show until the current series ends in the spring.

Trisha Goddard
Trisha Goddard
(above) 3-1
Davina McCall 4-1
Ant and Dec 8-1
Brian Dowling 10-1
Jerry Springer 33-1
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson 100-1
Source: William Hill

Names in the frame include Big Brother presenter Davina McCall, actress and singer Claire Sweeney and Lily Savage star Paul O'Grady.

Black's close friend Dale Winton has also been tipped as a possible contender to take over.


There were rumours circulating last year that talk show host Trisha Goddard was to take over Blind Date, although both she and Granada denied there had been negotiations.

But bookmaker William Hill has installed Goddard as favourite to take over the reigns, giving her odds of 3-1, with McCall as second favourite at 4-1 and Ant and Dec on 8/1.

Black said she took the decision to quit Blind Date because it had become more like work than fun, and she found it a "chore".

Cilla Black
Cilla plans to write a book about her showbiz experiences
But she also told the Sun newspaper that her decision was helped after a psychic told her that her late husband Bobby Willis approved of her decision.

The psychic is reported to have told her: "You are frightened and excited. Bobby says that is OK - you are doing the right thing."

Blind Date was a ratings hit when it launched, pulling it up to 17 million viewers, but numbers have dwindled in recent years, and just six million tuned into Saturday's show.


But the success of the show ensured Black became TV's highest paid female star, with the power to influence scheduling.

She was responsible for ITV shifting its football programme, The Premiership, to make way for a new series of Blind Date in a prime-time slot.

Blind Date weddings
1991 Sue Middleton and Alex Tatham
1994 Lillian Morris and David Fenson
1998 Anna Azonwanna and Paul Pratt

Black, who is 60 in May, is now planning to commemorate her 40th year in showbusiness by writing her autobiography, Cilla, What's It All About?

There is also a charity gala at the London Palladium in the pipeline.

Paul Jackson, director of entertainment at Granada, said: "This has been entirely Cilla's decision and we completely respect her for it.

"We would like to thank Cilla for giving us 18 fantastic years."

Who should replace Cilla Black on Blind Date?

Trisha Goddard

Davina McCall

Ant and Dec

Dale Winton

Jerry Springer

5821 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

06 Jan 03 | Entertainment
02 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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29 Dec 01 | Entertainment
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