Sir Cliff Richard says faith in God 'even stronger' after facing sex allegations
Sir Cliff Richard has said that spending nearly two years facing sexual allegations has made his faith in God "even stronger".
In an in-depth interview with LBC presenter Steve Allen, the singer revealed that learning to forgive his accuser was the turning point that helped him release "all that hate and anger."
His comments came during Allen's In Conversation With programme and is set to be broadcast on Christmas Day at 6am and 8pm.
Asked if the ordeal made him question his faith, Sir Cliff, 76, said: "No, I didn't. I feel now that my faith is even stronger because the support of friends who came and they stayed.
"I found I was talking to God a lot more, praying.
"It was the third night of my turmoil, that I woke up and it was 5:15 and...I felt the need to forgive this person, who I am sure I have never met, because I found myself being filled with hate and I wanted to get revenge and I thought, I don't think I'm going to survive this if that's the way I'm going to feel.
"So by forgiving him...what it did was it released me of all that hate and vengeance."
He added: "Forgiving is not a simple thing to do but when I look back, my God, that was the best simple thing I have ever done."
The Summer Holiday singer said that he felt he had become a "stronger person," but added: "I know I will never be able to brush this away ever from me because there will always be some people that will say, 'Well, there is no smoke without fire.'"
Looking back on his life and 50-year music career, which saw him enter the charts at the age of just 18, he described making films as a young actor as "happy days."
But, despite his early success, he revealed how he had no stage or musical training and feels that newer singers in their early stages are "much better" than he was at the time.
"It's because they've had like 60 years of this pop-rock thing that happened that's made little changes," he explained.
"They may call it garage or they may call it rap or whatever they call it, but it's all based on that basic rock 'n' roll thing that happened.
"I don't know how I'm still here, to be honest with you, when I see an old clip."
Yet he added that he has no plans to retire in the near future, adding instead that he plans to downsize his career and make it "more compact," to allow him more time to "smell the roses."
Often described as one of the kings of Christmas music, with his hits such as Mistletoe And Wine still replayed every year, Sir Cliff has this year released another festive track, It's Better To Dream.
But he said the best thing about having devoted fans at the festive season is their willingness to support good causes in his name.
He said: "I've made comments saying, you know, giving me a gift is a really lovely thought but I don't need for anything.
"There is one group in Birmingham who now, when they do collect money for me, they don't give anything to me. They spend it on incubators for premature babies.
"So there is a hospital in Birmingham that has, I don't know, a dozen of these incubators that they've bought in my name but I didn't do anything. How fantastic."
:: To hear the full interview, tune into Steve Allen In Conversation With Sir Cliff Richard on Christmas Day at 6am and at 8pm on LBC.