Thousands of mourners line route of funeral cortege to say ‘ta-ra’ to queen of showbiz in Liverpool as Sir Cliff Richard sings emotional tribute – latest
Ta-ra girl, I’ll see you on life’s highway” – comedian Paul O’Grady said, thanking Cilla Black for all the good times they shared as he said goodbye to the much-loved singer and TV presenter at her funeral today.
Sir Cliff Richard, the singer and Black’s long-time friend, was also among the celebrity guests to celebrate her life in a service full of tears of joy and laughter. He performed an emotional rendition of his song, Faithful One, to mourn the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers.
Thousands of fans packed the streets outside St Mary’s Church, in the Woolton suburb of Liverpool, as celebrities including Sir Tom Jones, Sir Lord Lloyd-Webber, Jimmy Tarbuck and Christopher Biggins joined Black’s family to remember a young woman who found fame in the halcyon days of British pop in the 1960s and went on to become one of the nation’s favourite TV presenters.
But while the shock of her sudden death on August 1 at the age of 72 left many still raw, O’Grady had guests in tears of laughter as he regaled them with stories of the capers they got up to during their decades-long friendship.
Finishing his tribute to her, O’Grady said: “I loved her dearly. She was just such a great friend. I do not know what I am going to do really – the light went off a couple of weeks ago and it has not gone back on yet. I am just going to miss her so much.
“Cilla I would just like to say ‘thanks for all the fun, thanks for all the laughs – ta-ra girl, I will see you on life’s highway’.”
‘Sense of fun and love always around Cilla’
After the service, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “I thought it was beautifully conducted and a wonderful choice of music.
“Those who knew her well spoke fantastically about her, the sense of joy, fun and love that was always around Cilla.”
Comedian Ted Robbins said that the service had been “very moving”. After speaking to the crowds and giving some hugs, he said: “It was beautiful, very moving.
“Cliff Richard singing and Paul O’Grady was hilarious. It was just great, very touching.”
Les Dennis: ‘The whole nation has lost a friend’
Comedian Les Dennis said the nation has “lost a friend, a sister, a mother”.
“I think the service was magnificent,” he said. “It was amazing in the church, very moving and there was a lorra, lorra laughs and Cilla would have loved that there were a lorra lorra laughs.
“For me Cilla was, as she has been coined, the Cinderella of Liverpool, she was the first lady of Liverpool. I think it’s very fitting that she’s come home.”
He added: “The people of Liverpool really, really love her, her heart is here and now she’s here as well.
When asked about Anyone Who Had a Heart playing during the funeral, Dennis said: “It was the most wonderful rendition”.
“She was the greatest, greatest female performer that we have had, on all levels – a great singer, a great comedian, and the best presenter on Saturday night TV.”
He added: “It feels like the whole nation has lost a friend, a sister, a mother. I think the nation has been singing her songs all week and hopefully her album will get to number one, she would have loved that.”
Carol Vorderman: ‘A sense of disbelief’
Speaking outside the church, TV host Carol Vorderman echoed the sentiments of many mourners after the funeral.
“It’s an extraordinary feeling,” she said. “She was very much there. Paul O’Grady was hilarious.
“She was a fantastic lady and a trailblazer. She loved life. I know those who were very close to her, like Paul, were very, very surprised. So there is still a sense of disbelief.”