CILLA Black has died and the nation mourns the loss of a true television icon.

The nation’s sweetheart is a phrase which is often, too easily banded about, and rarely deserved, but in the case of Cilla Black, it couldn’t be more apt.

Since her death at the weekend, the outpourings of grief have been constant and palpable.

In recent years she hasn’t been a regular fixture on our television screens, but her contribution to British entertainment had already long-cemented her as a living legend and the last of a unique breed.

Before I was even born, Cilla had already carved out a successful singing career of more than 20 years, before turning her talents to the small screen. Once the highest paid woman on the box, Cilla was Saturday night TV in the eighties and nineties.

For the best part of two decades she lit up our Saturday nights with her girl-next-door charm and signature catchphrases.

If you grew up in the eighties or early nineties like me, then Cilla Black’s two TV shows, Surprise, Surprise and Blind Date were probably integral to your Saturday night TV viewing.

The most fun on Blind Date was guessing which, from candidate one, two and three, the picker was going to choose, then tuning in a week later to find out if they got on. It was always nice when they ended up wanting to see each other again, but let’s be honest, it was better when they loathed the sight of one another and Cilla was perched on the sofa playing referee. The original car crash TV.

Surprise, Surprise has recently enjoyed a revival, presented by another national favourite, Holly Willoughby, but the original will never be beaten.

The eighties brought our beloved Cilla to our tele screens but it was also responsible for birthing the mullet. It is a decade renowned for its dodgy barnets and neon threads, the latter having made numerous comebacks into the fashion world. Thankfully the mullet has stayed long-dead (aside from in some far-flung pockets of southern America) and for that we should all be grateful.

The 1980s also gave us the first games consoles. The Sega Master System and Nintendo 64 brought us Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros in the 90s and were a global sensation, but before them we had the Commodore 64 - which is listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time having sold somewhere between 10 and 17 million units. Hard to believe when you remember how tedious it actually was to play the thing. Over an hour to load a game only for it to come up ‘error’ on the screen and the whole process would start again.

While Cilla was queen of the small screen, the eighties was also a great decade for the big screen. The Goonies, ET, Cocktail, Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, Back to the Future, Big, Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Stand By Me, Gremlins, Karate Kid, I could be here all day. And while some of them have the cringe-factor when you watch them today (honestly, try watching Gremlins now with a straight face), most of them possess that special quality which has allowed them to more than stand the test of time.

Something that can definitely be said about Cilla.