Cliff Richard

Blickling

It was the perfect setting for a summer holiday. With picnics consumed and the wine still flowing Sir Cliff Richard took more than 9000 loyal fans gathered in the expansive grounds of Blickling Hall on a memorable journey through his greatest hits.

Of all the summer concerts in the shadow of the splendid National Trust property, it was Sir Cliff's show that sold out the fastest.

And his army loyal fans welcomed the original bachelor boy with sheer devotion.

They had reached a state of frenzy before the singer, now 63, had even appeared on stage.

But one glimpse of the man in a black and gold spangly jacket, open white shirt and black t-shirt was enough to send hundreds of women of a certain age rushing to the front – screaming at every thrust of the hip.

And Sir Cliff did not disappoint, playing classics including The Young Ones, Bachelor Boy, and - of course - Summer Holiday.

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Having been doing this since the 1950s, he knew how to work the crowd.

"Is it always clear skies in Norfolk?" he asked the audience. "Do the crowds always shout so loudly? Then we're coming back!" he screamed, to much applause.

Sir Cliff has stood the test of time – this was no mere infatuation from the fans, who stretched back as far as the eye could see, this was adulation.

It was a show for which the devoted were lining up for nine hours before the gates opened.

Super-fans Wendy Mann, Jane Day, Carole Lucas and Wendy Ashby follow Cliff around the country and never miss a gig – and arrived at Blickling Hall at 8:15am.

Mrs Mann, a 53-year-old from Coventry, said: "I've been coming to Cliff concerts since 1984 and have been to at least 350 performances.

"We come for Cliff but there's also a great community side to this, it's like having a second family."

Straining to be the first one through the barriers, Ms Lucas, 58, from Hampton in Middlesex, added: "To see all of his nine Summer Nights concerts, plus the 14 at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year, including petrol and accommodation, has cost each of us well over £1,000. But Cliff's worth every penny."

And Ms Ashby, a 36-year-old from Rugby, said: "We rush to the front and Cliff gives us a little smile. He appreciates us being there and recognises our faces, even if he doesn't know our names."

For others, there is a strong emotional attachment to Sir Cliff and his music.

Philip Brown, a 39-year-old accountant, and wife Angela, 37, were married to the strains of his hit Some People in 1988.

Mr Brown said: "We travelled from Northampton to be here and are praying Cliff plays our song."

For David and Julie Leftley, the concert brought back some happy memories from their youth.

Mr Leftley, from Potter Heigham near Wroxham, said: "We saw Cliff at his first gig in Norfolk, at the Theatre Royal in Norwich in 1959, when we were 17.

"He was just starting out then, but we knew he would go far. And just look at him now."

Others in the audience were just desperate to attract Sir Cliff's attention. Margaret Crisp, 64, from Loddon, was resplendent in a black tshirt with silver sequins spelling the name of the music legend.

She said: "I'll be right at the front and just hope he sees me. I made it a couple of months ago and have been itching to wear it here in Blickling."

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