Sir Cliff Richard’s ‘secret early relationship’ exposed: ‘We had to keep a low profile!’

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The iconic singer, who remains one of the world’s bestselling musicians, has savoured around six decades in the music industry and was due to go on tour prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Sir Cliff, now 80, rose to fame in the late Fifties with The Shadows and became nationally renowned with musical films The Young Ones and Summer Holiday. The performer seldomly talks about his private life but was known to have dated tennis ace Sue Barker for several years during the Eighties and dancer Jackie Irving prior to that. But in his new autobiography Cliff Richard: The Dreamer, the star revealed a relationship he kept under wraps and away from prying eyes. 

Sir Cliff started a romance with a dancer he met at the London Palladium in 1960 – but less than a year later, after enjoying each other’s company in secrecy, they split-up. 

Her name was Delia Wicks, someone who the star performed “a little routine with” on-stage and then “gave her a kiss” at the end of his song.

Their relationship flourished away from cameras and the public spotlight out of fear it would tarnish his reputation or risked him losing support. 

He wrote: “She was a great girl and we were close but, as ever, we had to keep a low profile so that the press wouldn’t find out about us, spill the beans and dismay my fans.”

Shortly after he had filmed the 1961 film The Young Ones, Sir Cliff and The Shadows were sent on a “short, freezing tour” of Scandinavia. 

During his absence, he sent Delia postcards from every town they went to but revealed that he was about to “meet a girl who would make an even bigger impression on me”.

They grew close during a summer season at the opera house in Blackpool, which Sir Cliff described as “the northern capital of sea, sand and kiss-me-quick hats”.

The young lady who caught his eye was an “extremely beautiful” 19-year-old dancer named Jackie Irving, whose parents ran a nearby B&B.

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He described them as “virtually inseparable” during that summer and admitted they were “pretty much an item”.

Sir Cliff continued: “We hung out all of the time at the shows and in our spare time. Jackie was such a good laugh and, of course, a great person to go dancing with!”

While the relationship with Delia had not officially ended by that point, he admitted she was “dropping out of my life”.

He continued: “We had never been ‘committed’ anyway, so I didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong in seeing Jackie.” 

Cliff Richard: The Dreamer was published by Ebury Press in October and is available to purchase here. 

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