Cilla Black dies at 72: Tributes pour in for ex-singer and TV star
Friends of "national treasure" Cilla Black have spoken of their shock after the entertainer died suddenly at her home in the south of Spain.
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.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney, who is in Los Angeles, said: "Such a shock to hear about Cilla's passing. She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit.
"From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around.
"She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her."
Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said: "I just heard the news Cilla Black has left us she was a good friend we will all miss her peace to Cilla peace and love to the family R&B xxx."
Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Liverpool, Black had spoken of how she would die happy if she were to pass away before any illness could rob her of being able to enjoy life.
As the much-loved star approached her 71st birthday last year, she said that 75 might be an ok age to die.
She became one of the nation's favourite entertainers after transforming herself from a successful singer in the 1960s to the front woman on 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 going on to concentrate on TV.
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.
Singer Sir Cliff Richard said he will miss his "outrageous" friend dearly who was "full of heart".
Fellow presenter Christopher Biggins, who starred alongside Cilla in Surprise! Surprise!, sa id: "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."
Lord 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".
He told Sky News: "She always felt like a friend in your living room when she was on TV. A magical lady."
Sir Bruce Forsyth said he could not believe that Black had died aged 72 as he still thought of her as a "kid".
The TV presenter and entertainer said that Black was loved by everyone and had the "common touch".
The life of the entertainer was portrayed in an ITV biopic last year, which followed the story of the typist's rise to fame.
Cilla, which starred Sheridan Smith and pulled in more than seven million viewers, propelled the singer briefly back in to the music charts with Anyone Who Had A Heart.
Smith said she is "a bsolutely devastated to hear the tragic news about Cilla".
"She was the most remarkable woman, a true legend. She was so kind and helpful to me, it was a privilege to play her," she said, " My condolences go out to her family and all who loved her. She will be truly missed."
Black's publicist Nick Fiveash said in a brief statement: "It is with deep sorrow that I confirm today the passing of singer and TV personality Cilla Black.
"Details of her death will be announced following the coroner's report. Her family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this time."
Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, who made her first TV appearance on Blind Date in 1991, tweeted: "So sorry to hear the news about Cilla Black. RIP"