News Article

Sheridan Smith to play Cilla Black in new three-part ITV drama ‘CILLA’

Golden Globe and Oscar nominated Jeff Pope has penned ‘CILLA’, a three-part drama for ITV, starring Bafta and Olivier award-winning Sheridan Smith as the famous Liverpudlian songbird.

‘CILLA’ offers an extraordinary insight into Cilla Black’s humble beginnings and meteoric rise to chart success. It will capture the essence of 1960s Liverpool, the atmosphere of promise and excitement as the Merseybeat music scene was on the verge of exploding in a blaze of tight-fitting skirts, stiletto heels, and beehives.

A young, unknown Cilla works in the austere environs of the typists’ pool at a local company, dreaming of stardom. The drama looks at how she met the two men who came to love her and ultimately fought over her – future husband Bobby Willis and legendary manager Brian Epstein, the tragic young businessman who also guided the career of The Beatles.

We learn how Cilla’s burgeoning friendship with John, Paul, George and Ringo – the four young men who went on to conquer the music world – shaped her career. It was family friend Ritchie Starkey (Ringo), the teddy-boy with a greasy quiff, who help her to cross paths with Brian Epstein and producer George Martin – who were to launch her career with recording sessions at the world famous Abbey Road Studios.

The ITV Studios production will recount the dark days of her early career, her on-off relationship with Bobby, a baker at Woolworth’s with the gift of the gab, who struggled to accept Cilla’s iron determination to succeed and become a star at the expense of practically every other area of her life.

We see the young Priscilla White, (her real name), touring Liverpool in Bobby’s Crawford’s biscuits van as she moved from the Cavern to the Zodiac Club, to the Blue Angel Club and the Iron Door Club, chasing a dream. But it was a meeting with shy young entrepreneur Brian Epstein, struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality at a time when to be gay was illegal in Britain, which was to change her life.

“So thrilled to be back at ITV for such an exciting project and to hopefully show a younger audience what a star Cilla has always been and for the older generation they can re-live those swinging 60s! What an era! I’m really honoured and just hope I do her story justice…” – Sheridan Smith

Filming of ‘CILLA’ begins in Liverpool during March 2014 and will take in some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the world famous Cavern Club.

‘CILLA’ PRODUCTION CREDITS:
Executive Producer: Jeff Pope
Producer: Kwadjo Dajan
Director: Paul Whittington
Writer: Jeff Pope