T'PAU's flame-haired frontwoman Carol Decker is convinced SIR Cliff Richard attempted to sabotage her career - simply because he took a light-hearted joke seriously.

The feisty CHINA IN YOUR HAND singer angered the pop veteran while presenting an honour at the prestigious Ivor Novello music awards during her band's 1980s heyday when she jokingly ridiculed a comment he made before she went onstage.

Richard had told the singer it was better to give out prizes than receive them - a philosophy Decker mocked at the podium, sparking widespread laughter.

She remembers, "I was planning what to say when presenting an award when Cliff started talking to me. I'd been joking about how I'd been nominated for five BRIT Awards and never got one, and it was a similar story with the Novellos and I felt it was about time I was given one.

"Cliff said, 'It's much better to give than to receive, Carol,' which made me yawn. I went out and said, 'It's a pleasure to present this award and, as Cliff was saying to me earlier, it's much better to give than to receive...which we all know is b**locks!'

"It went down a storm but Cliff was livid. He didn't get it was a joke - he's got no sense of humour."

Decker, 47, suspects the housewife's heart-throb became vindictive after the slight and convinced the BBC to deny her any publicity after she performed at Princess Diana memorial concert in 1998.

She adds, "The BBC was interviewing everybody except me. I think Cliff made sure nobody spoke to me and I got no coverage even though I was one of the major performers."

25/04/2005 13:55