Cilla Black lookalike says she owes everything to late blind date star – after 50 years ‘following in footsteps’

A Cilla Black lookalike claims she owes everything to the late Surprise Surprise star after following in her footsteps for the last 50 years – even performing as the star on the day she died.

CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS

CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS

Full-time Cilla impersonator Brenda Collins said she looks so much like the Blind Date star she had to alter her hairstyle and clothing since the showbiz icon’s death on August 1 for fear of upsetting people.

The 64-year-old spoke of her shock at hearing about the star’s death while performing her tribute act aboard a cruise ship  on the same day she had to perform as the late star.

CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS POSES WITH A PHONE AS CILLA BLACK DID ON SURPRISE SURPRISE

CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS POSES WITH A PHONE AS CILLA BLACK DID ON SURPRISE SURPRISE

Brenda said she owed her career to the singer and TV presenter after impersonating her for the last 48 years.

Brenda, from Durham, said: “I’ve been following in Cilla’s footsteps for nearly 50 years and I owe so much to her. I owe my whole career to her  my life would have been so different had it not been for her. I had so much respect for her and she was a complete national treasure.

“I’m heading down to Liverpool for the funeral and I’m sure we’ll give her a proper send-off.

BRENDA COLLINS

BRENDA COLLINS

“I’ll have my hair done a different way because the last thing I want it for people to see me in the street and remind them of Cilla.

“When I do go out in the style of Cilla people have confused me with her in the past.”

Brenda will make the 320-mile round trip from her home in Durham to Liverpool for Cilla’s funeral on Thursday, still reeling from her idol’s death.

The lookalike said she was stunned when passengers on board the ship – which set sail for Portugal from Cilla’s home city of Liverpool – broke the news to her.

CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS

CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS

Brenda said: “The ship I was on departed from Liverpool and there were hundreds of people from the north of England on board.

“I was absolutely aghast when someone told me. I thought it was a joke. There were plenty of people, many Liverpudlians, in tears on the ship.

“I was due to perform that night and as a result I’ve had to change my routine to make it more of a tribute to her.

Brenda, who never met the Blind Date presenter but watched her on stage in order to hone her routine, said they looked so alike that Cilla herself was once mistaken for her.

Brenda said: “We were both on holiday in Barbados at the same time and I got a text from my sister who said her friend has spotted me at this bar.

BRENDA COLLINS

BRENDA COLLINS

“But I was on the other side of the island in a restaurant at the time. My sister’s friend had said ‘hello Brenda’ to Cilla Black.”

“There’s been a real parallel in our lives and I owe my career to Cilla. She probably doesn’t know it, but she’s been a massive part of my life.”

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets of Liverpool on Thursday for Cilla’s funeral.

The 72-year-old was found dead at her holiday home in Estepona, Spain, earlier this month after suffering a stroke while sunbathing.

Grandmother-of-one Brenda, who has two sons, Richard, 36 and Peter, 30, said she would continue to pay homage to Cilla for as long as there was demand.

PIC BY DARREN OBRIEN/MERCURY PRESS (PICTURED: CILLA BLACK LOOKALIKE TRIBUTE ACT BRENDA COLLINS) A Cilla Black lookalike claims she has to be careful how she dresses when she leaves the house for fear of shocked fans mistaking her for the late Surprise Surprise star. Full-time Cilla impersonator Brenda Collins said she had to alter her hairstyle and clothing since the showbiz icons death on August 1. The 64-year-old spoke of her shock at hearing about the stars death while performing her tribute act aboard a cruise ship. Brenda said she owed her career to the singer and TV presenter after impersonating her for the last 48 years. SEE MERCURY COPY

BRENDA COLLINS, 64

Brenda, whose career has seen her rub shoulders with showbiz giants including Frank Carson and Sir Bruce Forsythe said: “When Cilla died I got dozens of texts and phone calls asking if I was ok.

“My sons were particularly concerned because I’ve never known life without Cilla.

“I’ve altered the end of my routine now to make it more of a tribute to her.

“It was difficult to know what to do that first night on the ship when she passed away. I wanted to be sensitive and respectful of Cilla.”