MERSEYSIDE comedian Paul O’Grady today told how he returned to his roots in Birkenhead to film a new TV show.
The Birkenhead-born presenter headed to Wirral for a series on the history of the working class.
Paul, who also hosts For The Love Of Dogs on ITV1, travelled to various parts of the country to talk to people about their lives and experiences.
The BBC1 three-parter, which will air next spring, will look at the homes, communities and places of work of the working class from the mid-19th century through to today.
Paul said: “I went back to St Catherine’s Hospital in Birkenhead where I was born. My sister worked there and I used to sell papers there.
“They were worried I would be upset to see St Catherine’s go but you have to move on and they have built this fabulous health centre.
“We also went to Port Sunlight where my grandad used to work – it is gorgeous. And I worked as a bus conductor on my auntie Chrissie’s old 79 route around Birkenhead. I had a ball but there were all sorts of things to remember.
“People had it tough in those days. Some of these highbrow newspapers make out the working classes sit on the sofa all day and watch Jeremy Kyle and that has always annoyed me.
“I met so many hard-working, decent people. It was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Other emotional stops included his gran and grandad’s grave at Flaybrick Cemetery and Birkenhead Central Library.
Paul, 57, said: “My sister lives in Little Sutton now and there is no one there I know so I do not go back to where I was born – but it was really lovely to go back to Birkenhead.
“There were still lots of places which hadn’t changed. It was sad to see the shops in Church Road and Borough Road boarded up – I remember how vibrant it was when I was a kid.
“The library was under constant threat of closure but it is beautiful. It was like I was there yesterday, not 20 years ago.”
But it was another period of his life – the Lily Savage years – which he has reminisced about in his latest book Still Standing.