Sue Barker and Cliff Richard: Singer told marriage would ‘lose him 10 percent of fans’
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Sue is once again fronting the BBC’s coverage for Wimbledon as excitement hots up for finals weekend. Sir Cliff is a well-known tennis lover and familiar face in SW19, and he has put this passion down to Sue’s influence. The pair dated back in the Eighties and, while their romance did not last, they have remained close friends to this day.
Their relationship was so serious at one point that Cliff even considered proposing to her.
However, he decided against it, because he “didn’t love her quite enough” to commit to her for his whole life.
However, he insisted “no hearts were broken”.
In his autobiography ‘My Life, My Way’, he said on two occasions he seriously considered marriage.
The first was to dancer Jackie Irving, who went on to marry Adam Faith, and the second time was to Sue.
He said he asked his then-manager Peter Gormley if marriage would harm his career by upsetting fans.
The straight-talking Australian told him: “I calculate you’d lose only about ten percent of them.”
Ultimately, Cliff chose never to marry and is happy to live his life in a different way.
He said: “We are all flesh and blood, and if I’d got married I would be living with my wife full-time.
“But I haven’t and that’s why I have chosen another way of getting through my life ‒ and this is the way I’m going to go on.
“I don’t have to justify anything, and that way the rumour-mongers don’t have any power over me. It’s quite a nice feeling.”
Sue and Cliff first met through Alan Godson, a former vicar from Liverpool who asked Cliff to help Sue with her “spiritual journey”.
Soon after, the Summer Holiday singer decided to call Sue “out of the blue” and invited her to watch The Shadows perform with him in London in 1982.
After the gig, they went to meet a “very down-to-earth congregation” and discussed “what faith meant”.
Sir Cliff explained that, while he helped “ease her into the Christian world”, she gave him “something very important in return ‒ tennis”.
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He had “idly watched” the sport from his sofa on countless occasions, but Sue inspired him to start playing.
He described playing tennis with her as “another world completely, another galaxy” compared to his previous matches with friends.
In his autobiography ‘The Dreamer’, released last year, he explained that they were both “on the road” a lot and that, not long after meeting, they both went abroad.
However, they remained in touch and organised to meet up several times.
He said: “I went on playdates in the Far East, but I thought about her a lot and we kept in touch via letters and phone calls.”
At one point, they flew to Copenhagen to spend time together and another time Sue watched Cliff record ‘Now You See Me… Now You Don’t’ in Abbey Road Studios.
Cliff explained: “It is well-known that Sue and I went on to have a close relationship for a year or more and I have only fond memories of that time.
“She and I never had a cross word, and 40 years on, if I ever see her, our friendship is as deep and natural as it ever was.
“And that is the way I know it will always be.”
In ‘My Life, My Way’, he said he had “seriously contemplated” asking Sue to marry her.
However, “in the end I realised that I didn’t love her quite enough to commit the rest of my life to her.”
The Dreamer was written by Cliff Richard and published by Ebury Press in 2020. It is available here.
My Life, My Way was written by Cliff Richard and published by Headline Review in 2008. It is available here.
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