A FORMER Weymouth Blind Date contestant has paid tribute to Cilla Black.

Although the course of true love may not have run smooth when Weymouth’s Tim Saunders appeared on the show, he has fond memories of the national treasure, who sadly passed away recently at her Spanish home.

The entertainer had a 50 year career spanning hit singles and later TV work, including on popular shows like Surprise, Surprise.

Mr Saunders, lived in Friar Waddon, near Upwey for 18 years, and attended Dorchester Preparatory School and later Weymouth College. He appeared on Blind Date in 2001.

Mr Saunders said that before the selection interview for the show in Bournemouth, he crashed his Mazda Xedos and arrived at the interview concussed.

He recalled: “They obviously liked the crazy fool that appeared before them and a few weeks later I received a letter inviting me onto the show as a stand in.”

And half an hour before the show, contestant number three still had not turned up and so Mr Saunders was invited to take his place. He was picked and the couple went on their date to The Hague but Mr Saunders said that things didn’t work out for the couple. He then took up mo’jive dancing in Dorchester.

Meanwhile Caroline Dean from Highcliffe, was watching the Blind Date episode Mr Saunders appeared on.

She said: “I remember Cilla saying to Tim, ‘There is a girl out there for you chuck, but God knows where.’

“I thought, ‘Will there be someone out there for me?’”

A few weeks later Caroline was at a placement at a school in Weymouth as part of her teacher training when she decided to go dancing at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester. She said: “I started dancing with Tim and thought ‘I recognise you.’”

The couple married in Bulgaria in 2009 and now have two daughters Harriett, four, and Heidi, two, and live in Southampton. The couple also work together, running a business giving publicity to artists.

Mr Saunders told Cilla his happy news a few years ago and she said she was ‘very happy' for them.

Mr Saunders said: “Cilla was a lovely, warm lady who instantly put me at ease in front of an audience of 30million viewers. There were about 500 in the immediate audience in front of me. There was no side to her whatsoever, she was a consummate professional who was always happy. She was very personable and touching my arm she delivered a killer line: 'There is a girl out there for you chuck. But God knows where!'

“An extremely talented woman, who I have much to thank for: Caroline and I now are now married, have two beautiful daughters and we work together running Creative Coverage. All thanks to Cilla. Not many Blind Daters can report that.”