By Alyson Fixter
Singer and TV celebrity Cilla Black says she is modelling herself on This Morning’s Denise Robertson after becoming an agony aunt for News International’s high-profile weekly launch love it!.
The 62-year-old grandmother, who lost husband Bobby Willis to cancer seven years ago, said advice given by Robertson to a caller soon after her husband’s death changed the way she viewed agony aunts.
"I was in the depths of despair about how could I cope with Christmas," she told Press Gazette. "There was a caller [on This Morning] who was in the same predicament, and I remember Denise gave the most marvellous advice, really practical, saying to remember that Christmas was only one day. I kept remembering that all through Christmas, and after that I always looked at problem pages."
Black admitted she wasn’t expected to "type up" her advice for the magazine herself, but insisted she was "shooting from the hip" on her page.
She said her appointment came about through her friendship with Robin Morgan, editor of News International’s The Sunday Times Magazine, and his wife, Lynn Pemberton.
"I was always the shoulder to cry on, being the mother hen of the group," she said. "At one point Robin said ‘you really ought to do something about this’, and it went on from there.
"I have to do it my own way and draw on my own resources. If a problem comes up like having an affair, which has never happened to me, my natural instinct is to say ‘tell them to get knotted’, but I have to soften it up a little."
"The staff are unbelievable, I’ve become great friends with Judy McGuire [editorial director] and they’ve basically made me feel like one of them, one of you lot [journalists], something I never thought I’d be."
love it! was the first launch from News International’s magazines division, News Magazines. Sales are "going well", according to the publisher, although the title will not be expected to put in an official circulation figure until August.
Black is the latest in a long line of celebrity agony columnists, from Nuts’
sex adviser Abi Titmuss to Ruby Wax and Graham Norton in the Telegraph.