Singer Sir Cliff Richard has opened up about the moment he went from one of the world's most famous singers to becoming one of the most preyed upon celebrities after being wrongly accused of sex abuse.

The star, who rocketed to fame in 1958, was making the most of his time in Alentejo, Portugal, when he received a call from the manager of his apartment block in Berkshire.

Sir Cliff, 80, was sat with his sister Joan, her partner Martyn and his close friend John McElynn in the kitchen of his Portuguese home before heading out for the day.

After picking up the phone, he was dealt a shattering blow that would change his life forever.

Cliff revealed that his world was quickly turned into "nightmare"

Writing in his memoirs, Cliff Richard: The Dreamer, he recalled the moment his life dramatically turned into a "living nightmare".

He was delivered the news by his manager that South Yorkshire Police had issued a warrant to search the property following "allegations of a sexual nature, dating back to the 1980s".

While enjoying lunch with his sister and their friends, Sir Cliff was left lost for words when he received a phone call to say that the BBC was broadcasting the raid live across the nation.

The singer was left horrified when he discovered the BBC was broadcasting the raid on his home

"I stared at the television, deep in catatonic shock," he said, before witnessing officers carrying out boxes and bin liners.

After hearing that a South Yorkshire police officer released a statement claiming the force had "received an allegation of a sexual nature that involved a boy under the age of sixteen years," the singer was left unable to sleep due to the torment.

Cliff recalled speaking to former Prime Minister Tony Blair who offered his support

"My life had changed overnight. I had been accused of a heinous crime, awful beyond belief," he painfully said.

The Lucky Lips singer revealed that his world had "collapsed" when a friend walked in and seen him sat, crying on the kitchen floor "unable to stand".

Cliff was left shielding at his estate in Portugal, remaining indoors to avoid the world's press.

Despite his world crumbling, he notes that fellow icon Sir Elton John picked up the phone to offer his best wishes.

One chat Sir Cliff speaks fondly of is one with former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

"Tony said that he and Cherie didn't believe a word of the allegations and listened sympathetically as I told him how helpless I felt as I watched my name being traduced across the globe," he wrote.

"I can't even look at the internet, Tony. People are saying such awful things about me," he said to the ex-politician.

Cliff goes on to say that Blair offered a chuckle before replying: "You want to see people saying even worse things?' he asked. 'Google my name!'"

The superstar faced several grillings from South Yorkshire Police at a training centre in Sheffield.

Cliff Richard: The Dreamer was published, by Ebury Press is available here.

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 0845 30 30 900 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.