Paul O'Grady to host new series of Blind Date which will include LGBT contestants

Blind Date, Paul O'Grady

Paul O'Grady is set to host the new series of matchmaking show Blind Date, which will include LGBT contestants for the first time.

Paul O'Grady is set to host the new series of dating show Blind Date when it returns this year.

The matchmaking show will include LGBT contestants for the first time, according to BBC News.

Paul said: "Blind Date is an incredibly special family show which brought laughter, tears and joy to TV viewers throughout the land."

The presenter and comedian, who is also known for playing Lily Savage, added: "I am honoured to present the brand new series and, after speaking to Channel 5, I know the series is in safe hands. I can't wait to see if we can find love."

Paul O'Grady was a close friend of the late Cilla Black, who hosted the show for eighteen years during its run from 1985 and 2003.

Channel 5's official announcement said the show had been "updated for the 21st Century".

"With no chance to swipe left, send a selfie or message back, the class of 2017 must break with modern-day dating convention and rely on their basic instincts to find the chemistry," it said.

The original version of the show involved three individuals of the same sex being introduced to the audience.

They were then asked questions by a contestant of the opposite sex who could not see them - and one would be chosen to go on a date,

The new format will keep the sliding panel that conceals the contestants, the three question format and live studio audience, but will also include "thematic twists" to "breathe new life" into the show.

Ben Frow, director of programmes for Channel 5, said: "Paul is the perfect choice to bridge the old and the new, capturing the essence and charm of a series that became staple Saturday night family viewing in living rooms up and down the country, whilst attracting and appealing to a whole new generation of TV viewers."

During its run, three pairs of Blind Date contestants married, with Cilla, who died in August 2015, attending all of their weddings.