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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Tom Bryant

Tragic Paul O'Grady choked up on his final show as last TV series begins tonight

Animal hero Paul O’Grady will have his grieving fans weeping once again when he returns to TV in a tearjerker where he has to say goodbye to Peggy, a dog who stole his heart.

In the new series of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, filmed last year, he helps nurse Newfoundland Peggy back to health after an operation.

The star, who died last month, aged 67, desperately wants to adopt her, but says there is “no room at the inn”.

Paul had already adopted several dogs from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where the series is set, including Chihuahua-Jack Russell cross Eddie, Shih Tzu Boycie, Maltese Conchita, mongrels Arfur and Nancy, and a dachshund called Sausage.

Peggy had a three-and-a-half hour operation at the Royal Veterinary College to repair her back legs.

Paul with Peggy on the show (ITV)

Helped by Paul and a team of experts, the two-year-old then had eight weeks of physio, hydrotherapy and assisted walks in a supported harness before she could be rehomed.

But, sadly, in this case it was not to be with Paul, who tells her: “Oh dear, I wish I was ready for you, Peggy, but I am afraid I can’t do it this time, there is just no room at the inn.

“Peggy, it’s been a real privilege meeting you, it’s not every day you get to meet a special dog like you. You are very beautiful. It’s been lovely knowing you, take it easy, Peggy.”

But as Paul gets ready to leave, Peggy starts whining, leaving the presenter bereft, telling her: “Don’t start, Peggy please. I’m going to get a job on the railways. It’s too hard to say goodbye.”

Peggy is later rehomed with a family, who adore her. Paul is delighted, and not surprised. He says: “She steals the heart of everyone she meets and I am head over heels.”

Paul had to tell Peggy there was 'no room at the inn' for her (ITV)

A tribute fund set up by Battersea in Paul’s honour has hit almost £250,000.

Chief executive Peter Laurie said last week that the charity had received countless letters, calls, emails and messages of support.

All the money donated will go towards the running of the much-loved charity, which has featured in every series of the hit ITV show.

Mr Laurie also hinted bosses at Battersea, in South London, were considering a permanent tribute to the star. He said: “We will be looking to find a suitably fitting way to remember the profound impact Paul had at Battersea and the rescue animal sector – something that will support the animals Paul loved so much, and that would make him proud.”

Paul regularly spoke of his love for the show, and the home. He said in 2012: “Hand on heart. This has been one of the nicest jobs I’ve ever had.

“Battersea is a magical place. People think it’s all doom and gloom but it’s not, it’s such a happy place. I’ve had a ball. It’s such an enriching place to work. I’m coming back. They can’t get rid of me.”

Paul, also known for his famous drag alter ego Lily Savage, died “unexpectedly but peacefully” on March 28.

* The 11th and final series of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs starts on Thursday, 8.30pm, on ITV1 and ITVX.

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