Paul O’Grady says the death of Stephen Gately helped him move back to ITV

by Lisa McGarry

Paul O'Grady

TV presenter Paul O’Grady said Stephen Gately’s death helped him decide to return to ITV.

O’Grady left the channel in 2006 but says an emotional phone call with Louis Walsh made him rethink his departure.

The Mirror reports O’Grady as saying:

“I’d known Stephen for years. It’s shocking that a young man of 33 with so much to live for should die like that, not even knowing that he had a congenital heart disease.

“God, he never even got a chance to say goodbye to people he loved. He had no warning, unlike me. I’ve had two heart attacks and yet here I am running around like a lunatic making five shows a week.

“Stephen dying like that has haunted me. It’s forced me to check myself. I thought, ‘Do you really want to carry on with this workload, doing crazy hours and not eating?’

“I’ve been pushing my luck for too long. It’s time I had more respect for my health. I came off the phone from Louis, who is in absolute pieces, and made a decision: now is the time to move on.

“Have a different kind of life. Give myself some time to enjoy what I’ve got – a chance Stephen never had.”

Paul denies that he will be receiving £8 million for his two year contract.

He said: “You’d think I’d caused World War Three or been accused of locking my daughter in a cellar for 20 years.

“I want to get it straight that I’m not being paid the silly money I’ve seen mentioned. Those days of big bucks are gone. But programmes cost a lot to make.

“So can I make it clear an £8 million deal doesn’t mean that’s my money – it’s the total cost of making a show over two years.”