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Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: SIR CLIFF RICHARD APRIL 28th, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: By this weekend thousands of music fans should have found out if they've been lucky in the ticket ballot for the Golden Jubilee concerts at Buckingham Palace. Two million people have applied for either the classical concert or the pop concert and there are just 24,000 tickets available. The one man who already knows that he's certainly going to get in is Sir Cliff Richard. He's one of the many stars who'll be up there on stage. Now Cliff has had hits for more than 30 years, 40 years virtually yes now, more than 40 years and this month he releases his 129th single, it's called Let Me Be The One and it's made its way into the charts already. I spoke to him earlier and I began by asking him which of all those many songs, those 129 singles means the most to him?

CLIFF RICHARD: Well I suppose the one that I think means most to me is because I think I was lucky to get probably one of the best pop rock songs ever written and that was We Don't Talk Anymore. There's a certain sound about a pop rock record that it's hard to say why you like it instantly but everybody else did too, it sold so much around the world and so I would say that that was probably the best one I've done.

DAVID FROST: Does your style consciously change over the years, I mean music changes, do you change or do you try and remain the same?

CLIFF RICHARD: Essentially I suppose all of us remain basically the same, it's a matter of being able to juggle your way into what's happening new. The stuff that's new is based a lot on technology and if you allow technology into your recording studio, which is not a difficult thing to do, the guys that do all that and know what they're talking about, they punch up sounds on computers and sample sounds, all you have to do is say like it, don't like it, find me another one, and, and, what I've always done though and I think that's what's helped me over the years is that you try to, when a song comes along you think how best can I sing this. When I did Devil Woman for instance the obvious thing was to [sings] she's just a devil woman, sing it out loud, bang it away, heavy rock and roll but just mucking around I sort of sang it with a very husky [sings] I've had nothing but bad luck and Bruce Walshe who was producing went do that again, do that again and you find a sound for the song. I'm still limited to being Cliff Richard of course, you know so there's a limit as to what I can do and how much I can change it.

DAVID FROST: Do you see it as much of a buzz out of your 129th single as your first, I mean or going on stage in your forthcoming tour, will you feel as excited as in your first tour or is that unrealistic?

CLIFF RICHARD: To be honest I suppose it's unrealistic although having said that I, the first few days of, on a new tour are so exciting and nerve wracking, that's the thing that I'm amazed at, after all these years when I tell people that I get really nervous at the beginning of a tour they don't believe me. And I say but you don't understand, yes I'm singing a lot of comfortable hit songs from the past, but yes I'm also singing a whole load of songs that I've never sung before on stage. But these early days, the excitement was different because the Shadows and I were almost, well not almost we were in amongst the first group of people to ever sing rock and roll in Europe. Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Dickie Pryde myself the Shadows and so we were breaking new ground all the time and it, that sort of excitement I guess will never come back.

DAVID FROST: And how different, differences are the, are the audiences these days, in a sense Tom Jones makes that joke on stage about they used to throw knickers onto the stage and now they throw their surgical corsets or whatever, but I mean are the audiences different?

CLIFF RICHARD: I suppose they are but I've grown up with a number of people, I don't know how much Tom's audience has changed over the years, I guess what's happened is the age range has changed, it used to be ten-year-olds and now it's my age, 60-year-olds, they've all grown up with me. I mean I seem to have gone full cycle now because there was a time when even my friends would say, you know I've bought your new record, you know I went into the HMV store and went, can I have the [whispers] Cliff Richard record please, just in case anyone was watching them buy one.

DAVID FROST: And at the same time you have this accolade which I suppose is a burden as well of being the Peter Pan of rock and roll, or the Peter Pan of pop, you've always said you've never had a nip and a tuck as some people have but, except you tried botox once or something?

CLIFF RICHARD: Botox...

DAVID FROST: Botox, that sounds better doesn't it.

CLIFF RICHARD: I did, my eyebrows dropped and I didn't like the, didn't like the look of it so, I don't think I'll bother with that again. But you know you get lines, I've got lines and things, I guess for men it's different though, I guess for women it's far more of a critical stage if they are getting wrinkly. But I mean I don't look too bad and so I, I can't be bothered with, I don't think...

DAVID FROST: Well you do look like Peter Pan and is it, do you think, since it's not nip and tuck is it, is it swimming, is it tennis, is it diet, you've been on a diet 35 years?

CLIFF RICHARD: Yeah well an eating regime more than a diet.

DAVID FROST: Yes.

CLIFF RICHARD: I mean I try not to eat more than one meal a day and I've stuck by that pretty, pretty religiously right the way through and I don't see myself as the Peter Pan of pop anymore, I keep saying the Rip Van Winkle of rock, but Peter Pan of pop was a great pleasure to hear people call me that originally, but once I hit 40, then 50 and now 60 it's really a bit of a pressure.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of fitness you were just talking about the diet, doing it religiously, and of course, I mean that's an obvious cue to the fact that you do a lot of things religiously since that turning point in your life when you found God which was when exactly?

CLIFF RICHARD: Well I don't know about exactly but in 1966 I did appear on the Billy Graham platform at Earls Court and I've been a Christian from about a year and a bit before, so 64ish, 65 maybe and I can't put my finger on an exact date but there was a period of time when I gave up in fact trying to tear it down, I spent quite, three or four years in a way trying to disprove it so that I could move on to the next one, to disprove Christianity.

DAVID FROST: And one Rabbi wrote a book in New York about why do bad things happen to good people or whatever and that area of suffering, the suffering of the good and so on is an area I've discussed with Billy Graham among others and it's an awkward area...

CLIFF RICHARD: Very...

DAVID FROST: I know you said, for instance, about the death of your friend Jill Dando, that you were angry with God at that particular moment...

CLIFF RICHARD: Yes.

DAVID FROST: It is very difficult to make sense of that?

CLIFF RICHARD: Very difficult but then you see it's got to be difficult, I mean if we could absolutely understand God, I've got a feeling we'd have got it all wrong, he wouldn't actually be the God that we're seeing here, he would be much less than that. If even science could prove him, I mean I find it interesting that fortunately I've got a number of scientists who are Christians too as well as being firm believers in science and who's not?

DAVID FROST: As the famous atheist quote, I'm an atheist Thank God, somebody once said on one occasion. But in terms, you've said for instance that you're, that you don't consider yourself celibate but obviously you've never married and so on, are you therefore in this beautiful house and so on, sometimes lonely?

CLIFF RICHARD: No I've never felt lonely, I have a lot of really, really good friends and over the years you, you cultivate that, I think, you, you don't, I suppose you do choose your friends to a certain extent but it seems to me that I've met people at the right time and I've built up a, a blockade of people that can, can support me in any kind of need that I might be going through. Well you know what it's like, you know the media itself can be so vicious, so helpful in so many ways and yet so vicious sometimes that then if I was on my own I'd have trouble. But I've always got someone I can phone up and talk to and ease myself out of that and it's no problem.

DAVID FROST: And so, and so are you going to just carry on, I guess you are really, carry on playing the old guitar until the day you drop...

CLIFF RICHARD: I think so...

DAVID FROST: And as you go on your way to the funeral, lift up the coffin lid and do a quick chorus of I'm Going On A Summer Holiday or whatever, but I mean are you going to carry right on to the end?

CLIFF RICHARD: I think so, what I'd like to do is slow down a little, what I'd like to do is pace myself to, if I did two things in one year, do only one of them that year and do the other one the following year so I would have more time to myself, for my friends and my family and to just enjoy, I mean I really, I have enjoyed myself - of course I have, but whatever happens, no matter how much you enjoy yourself it is still your work and I don't know that the every day man in the street would quite understand how pressurised our world is. So I can pull away a little bit and ease the tension generally I think I could enjoy myself now 'til, 'til the day I lift that coffin lid.

DAVID FROST: Well we thank you very much and we look forward to the 130th single.

CLIFF RICHARD: Thank you very much.

DAVID FROST: Thanks a million Cliff.

CLIFF RICHARD: Thank you David.

DAVID FROST: Cliff Richard.

END


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