Paul O'Grady: ITV Meridian viewer and friend of the programme

Sangeeta Bhabra looks back on the relationship ITV Meridian had with TV legend Paul O'Grady.

Paul O'Grady once told ITV Meridian's Sangeeta Bhabra that he wouldn't turn the TV on before 6pm as he had no reason to.

Meridian Tonight wasn't on so he had no reason to, he told us.

He was a man that was always happy to speak to us, whether that was about his latest production, helping us track down a stolen dog, judging awards or being named Deputy Lieutenant of Kent.

A relationship between Meridian and him blossomed, with Sangeeta interviewing Paul on multiple occasions - and even being invited down to his farm.

Paul would tell us that he would never miss an episode of ITV News Meridian and each time we interviewed him was a 'treat'.

"Regional news is so important", he once told Sangeeta. "6 o'clock, telly on, Meridian Tonight. Soon as you're finished I sit down and write."

Paul and Sangeeta pet Winston, Paul's sheep. Credit: ITV Meridian

Paul was with us for the highs and lows, including the Covid-19 lockdown, which was difficult for many people across the Meridian region.

At the time he showcased his 'adopted' county of Kent in a new show on ITV and was only too happy to share his findings with us.

Always happy to help Paul made multiple appearances on Meridian through the years, brightening our day and yours.

Just last year he was made Lord Lieutenant of Kent and joined Stacey and Matt for a chat via one of our cameras.

He made light of what is a real honour, making us and you laugh in his unique way.

Paul simply was a man with a huge talent and an even bigger heart, that we at ITV Meridian were lucky enough to share with him.

From all of us at Meridian, thank you.

Paul O'Grady: 14 June 1955 - 28 March 2023