Entertainment Music

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Paul O'Grady breaks down during BBC Radio 2 tribute to his friend Cilla Black

Paul O'Grady and Cilla Black were good friends
Paul O'Grady and Cilla Black were good friends

Paul O'Grady broke down in tears as he celebrated the life of "queen of showbiz" Cilla Black during his radio show.

The presenter seemed overcome with emotion after playing the star's 1966 hit Alfie and was forced to pause, before managing to say "that always does me in that one - completely finishes me off".

The last hour of his Sunday night BBC Radio 2 show was dedicated to Black, his close friend, who died of a stroke after falling and hitting her head at her Spanish villa last weekend.

Opening the show, O'Grady thanked listeners for their "touching" messages, saying: "It' s been quite a week really and, as you know, we lost the queen of showbiz herself and I lost a very good friend."

He added: "I'm just grateful that last week's show was pre-recorded before I found out the sad news about Cilla."

O'Grady reflected on some of his favourite memories of Black, including riding the Orient Express with her, and "getting thrown out a bar in New York", adding "it's been a lorra, lorra fun".

He said Black would want to be remembered as a singer, saying: " She said to me 'I want singer on my headstone', and I said, 'Why do you want to be known for being a sewing machine?'

"She said 'I'll have you in a minute'."

Black made a posthumous comeback to the UK music charts on Friday with her compilation album The Very Best Of which was first released in 1983 and re-released in 2013.

It reached number 14, making i t Black's highest charting album since Sher-oo! in 1968, according to the Official Charts Company.

Her former number one single Anyone Who Had A Heart, first released in 1964, also returned to the charts at number 41, marking its highest chart position in 51 years.

O'Grady said: "Now today, Cilla is back in the chart and she would be absolutely thrilled - she would be modest about it, but she would be thrilled."

The presenter played a host of songs by Black, including You're My World and Imagine, her duet with close friend Cliff Richard.

He also played Elvis Presley's Trouble, a song "she absolutely used to love" which "sums up our relationship".

O'Grady said an emotional farewell at the end of the hour-long show with the words: "I'd just like to say Cilla, you'll be missed, not just by me but by all of the legions of your fans as well."

PA Media

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