Cilla Black 'was not dying to die'

Close friend Sir John Madejski hits out at reports

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Tributes Are Left For Cilla Black In Her Home Town Liverpool

A close friend of Cilla Black's has hit back at reports she wanted to die, and urged people to respect the star's family.

Businessman Sir John Madejski described the 72-year-old as his soulmate, and said he is keen to protect her in death as he had while she was alive.

Another friend of the late singing and TV star had claimed she "willed herself to die" to be reunited with her husband Bobby Willis who died in 1999, but Sir John refuted that suggestion.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the Reading Football Club co-chairman said: "Cilla was not dying to die. Anyway, it's nobody's damn business. Think of her family - don't forget she's got three sons."

Body returned to the UK

Black's body has been flown back to the UK, her publicist confirmed on Friday, but no funeral details have yet been released.

Sir John said he had never been anything other than a close friend to the Blind Date presenter, describing their relationship as like that of an "old couple".

"We had a great relationship. I respected her and she respected me. You don't get many relationships like that with the opposite sex. We were, in some ways, like an old couple."

He described the star, who died of a stroke after falling and hitting her head at her Spanish villa last weekend, as a private and dignified person who "didn't want to be in the spotlight all the time".

Return to the charts

The star has made a posthumous comeback to the UK music charts with her compilation album The Very Best Of.

The greatest hits collection, first released in 1983 and then most recently re-released in 2013, landed its highest ever chart position in 14th spot as fans paid tribute.

It is 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 in 41st place, marking its highest chart position in 51 years.

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