Cilla Black: Tributes paid by former Beatles and celebrity pals
Britain is mourning the loss of one of its national treasures, performer and entertainer Cilla Black.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out today following her sudden death at her home in the south of Spain.
Tributes have been pouring in for Black, 72, lead by close friends such as Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Paul McCartney and Christopher Biggins.
Black is said to have died overnight on Saturday after flying to Spain with her son Robert. Spanish police have been quoted as saying "everything at this stage is pointing towards her death being the result of natural causes".
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 a good 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.
In a touching tribute to her, Sir Cliff revealed in The Sun that he was due to visit her at her house in Spain next week.
"Her passing away is a particular shock because despite the aches and pains we all suffer, she was always so upbeat," he wrote.
Former Beatle Sir Paul paid tribute to her from Los Angeles saying: "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."
Her publicist Nick Fiveash confirmed the news in a brief statement, adding: "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."
EastEnders star and her good friend, Barbara Windsor, described her death as "awful."
She told the BBC: "I was only with her a couple of weeks ago. I've seen her twice in the last few weeks."
"And as always she looked immaculate. That was the thing about Cilla, she always looked spot-on. But I knew she wasn't very well, she didn't seem well."
Windsor went on to say: "I liked her, we got on well. She was nothing like me in personality at all, but she was a good, good all-round performer."