Tributes as entertainer Cilla Black dies age 72

Tributes have poured in for British “national treasure” Cilla Black after the entertainer died at her home in the south of Spain yesterday.

The former pop star and television presenter, who lived in Estepona on the Costa del Sol, was 72.

Black — who suffered from hearing problems and arthritis — reportedly died overnight after flying to Spain with her son Robert.

Friend and fellow presenter Christopher Biggins, who starred alongside Cilla in Surprise! Surprise!, described Black as a “national treasure” adding that she will “always be with me”.

“It’s devastating news, really devastating,” he said.

“She was a wonderful friend. She was someone who was a life force, she loved to laugh and loved to enjoy herself.

“She will always be with me. She was a national treasure.”

Michael Grade, former executive chairman of ITV, said a once nervous Cilla soon gained a natural confidence in front of the cameras and went on to become an “enduring family favourite”.

“A natural, natural performer of the highest quality,” he told Sky News.

“One of the all time greats in showbiz. She always felt like a friend in your living room when she was on TV. A magical lady.

“She had a huge, huge talent once she got her confidence. She became a national favourite, an enduring family favourite.”

Several national newspapers quoted a police spokeswoman as saying: “We are still awaiting autopsy results but everything at this stage is pointing towards her death being the result of natural causes.”

Black transformed herself from a successful singer in the 1960s to becoming a television favourite fronting shows such as Blind Date and Surprise! Surprise!

An associate of The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein in the early 1960s, she scored two number ones in 1964 — Anyone Who Had A Heart and You’re My World — as well as enjoying many other hits, before concentrating on TV.

Born as Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Liverpool, she went on to host more than 500 editions of her programmes and was the first woman to have her own prime-time chat show on BBC1.

Actress Joan Collins has led tributes to Cilla Black, expressing her sadness on Twitter: “I am so sad and shocked by news about my good friend Cilla. She was a resplendent and rare talent. RIP.”

Piers Morgan, who interviewed Black on his ITV show Life Stories, wrote: “RIP Cilla Black. Very very sad news.”

TV personality Carol Vorderman said she was “deeply shocked” to learn of Black’s death: “I hope you are now at peace lovely lady. Thank you for the lunches and the laughs x,” she tweeted.

Surprise! Surprise! presenter Holly Willoughby posted a photo of her and Black together on the show, writing: “This photo is even more special to me now...”

Before that, she wrote a touching message saying: “So so sad to hear the news that we have lost one of my heroes, Cilla you were one incredible lady! Sending all my love to her family. X.”

Gabby Logan called Black the “complete entertainer/host in an era when everyone watched TV. She was a trail blazer. RIP Cilla.”


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