TV

Cilla Black on the set of her BBC TV series 'Cilla'

In September 1963, Cilla Black OBE began her career in show business as a recording artist. Five years later, Liverpool’s chart-topping pop sensation, who was a regular on many of Britain’s best loved entertainment shows, was starring in ‘Cilla’ – her own prime-time variety series for BBC One.

Since her debut, Cilla has made over 400 guest appearances on British television and hosted more than 500 television shows of her own – making Cilla Black OBE one of the most watched female stars in the history of British television. Below are details of a few “iconic” moments from this illustrious career on the small screen.

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Cilla Black performing during the 1964 Royal Variety Performance1964 ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE [BBC]
Broadcast on 8 Nov 1964
{Video footage on The Definitive Collection}

One of Cilla’s earliest career highlights as a pop star was to perform in front of Queen Elizabeth II at the 1964 Royal Variety Performance. For the opening sequence of Cilla’s performance the London Palladium’s stage curtains revealed her stepping out of a sports car to sing her #1 hit single ‘You’re My World’.

 

Cilla Black performing during the TV special 'Cilla at the Savoy'

CILLA AT THE SAVOY [Rediffusion]
Broadcast on 6 Jul 1966
{Video footage on The Very Best Of Cilla Black}

In April 1966, Cilla opened in a 3-week cabaret season at London’s Savoy Hotel. On her final Sunday, she starred in her own television special produced by her manager Brian Epstein’s film company, Subafilms. It was the first colour television show of its kind to be made by an independent producer in Britain. The show was broadcast in the UK in black & white but aired in colour in The Netherlands and the USA. ‘Cilla at the Savoy’ was one of the most watched television specials of the 1960s.

Performances included:

  • “Let Me Entertain You”
  •  Medley: “By Myself”/”Tonight”/”Let There Be Love”
  • “What’s A Nice Kid Like You Doing In A Place Like This?”
  • “If I Had A Hammer”
  • “Pick Up A Cane”
  • “Yesterday”
  • “Anyone Who Had A Heart”
  • “September In The Rain”
  • “Sing A Rainbow”
  • “Alfie”
  • “You’re My World”

 

Cilla Black on the set of her BBC TV series 'Cilla'CILLA [BBC]
Broadcast between 30 Jan 1968 & 17 Apr 1976 (8 Series/66 Shows)
{Video footage on The Definitive Collection & Completely Cilla}

In August 1967, only days before his premature death, Brian Epstein had engineered Cilla’s switch to television with her own eponymous variety show for BBC TV. The immediate success of the ‘Cilla’ series marked the beginning of a new phase of Cilla’s professional life as she was now one of Britain’s top-rated television entertainers. Her show regularly commanded staggering audience figures of between 18 and 22 million until it ended in 1976. Apart from providing Cilla with the opportunity to perform her music, it also showcased her infectious personality, her ability to host a live show, the ease with which she performed with guest stars, acted in comedy sketches and her forte – her interaction with the general public.

Guest stars included:-

  • Cliff Richard
  • Johnny Mathis
  • Andy Williams
  • Charles Aznavour
  • Tom Jones
  • Ringo Starr
  • Lulu
  • Sandie Shaw
  • Twiggy
  • Matt Monro
  • Sacha Distel
  • Dusty Springfield
  • Ethel Merman
  • The Shadows
  • Phil Everly
  • Marc Bolan
  • Jimmy Tarbuck
  • Ronnie Corbett.

 

Cilla Black on the set of her 1970s comedy series for ATVCILLA’S COMEDY SIX [ATV/ITV]
Broadcast between 15 Jan & 19 Feb 1975 (6 Shows)
{Available on DVD set Cilla’s Comedy Six}

CILLA’S WORLD OF COMEDY [ATV/ITV]
Broadcast between 31 Aug & 5 Oct 1976 (6 Shows)
{Available on DVD set Cilla’s World of Comedy}

In January 1975, Cilla broke new ground starring in her first series of situation comedy plays for ATV (Associated Television). This was Cilla’s first project away from the BBC. In May, Cilla’s performances in these shows earned her a “Top Female Comedy Star” award from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. The following year, a second series was commissioned which was a Top 3 ratings hit with British television audiences.

 

Cilla Black on the set of her TV series 'Surprise! Surprise!'SURPRISE! SURPRISE! [LWT/ITV]
Broadcast between 6 May 1984 & 26 Dec 2001 (14 Series/137 Shows)

In 1983, Cilla signed a record breaking contract with LWT (London Weekend Television) to host ‘Surprise, Surprise’ heralding the beginning of another extraordinarily successful phase of her lengthy television career. ‘Surprise, Surprise’ commenced in May 1984 after a pilot show from a year earlier was deemed a success. In its early days, the show consisted of a mixture of variety entertainment with a heartfelt blend of audience surprises and participation. Trademark features included Cilla’s theme song “Surprise, Surprise” as well as comical sketches referred to as “Cillagrams” involving Cilla going out on location to “surprise” and sing to viewers. In later years, the show was commissioned purely for one-off specials such as Mothering Sunday and Christmas focusing on reuniting long-lost loved ones and offering unsuspecting members of the audience “celebrity” surprises.

 

Cilla Black with contestants on the set of her TV dating game 'Blind Date'BLIND DATE [LWT/ITV]
Broadcast between 30 Nov 1985 & 31 May 2003 (18 Series/380 Shows)

In June 1985, Cilla was invited by LWT to film a pilot of ‘Blind Date’ – a new dating game show concept from America (a.k.a. ‘The Dating Game’). Although British television watchdogs were initially worried about the programme’s sexual connotations it was Cilla’s involvement which allayed their fears. Cilla recalls how LWT jokingly asked her to front the programme, saying “We want you to do it because we tried to think of the most sexless person on television”. The rest as they say is history as the show became a national institution for many millions of viewers, brightening up Saturday nights for a staggering 18 years. In 1997, BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts) presented Cilla with a prestigious award for her show which acknowledged its significant impact on British pop culture. In 2003, Cilla sensationally quit ‘Blind Date’ live on air following significant changes to the show’s format.

 

Cilla Black performing with Dusty Springfield during the TV special 'Cilla Celebrations'CILLA’S CELEBRATIONS [LWT/ITV]
Broadcast 26 Sep 1993
{Video footage of Dusty Springfield duet available on Just Dusty}

This 90-minute TV Special was produced to celebrate Cilla Black’s 30th showbiz anniversary. It featured special guest appearances with some of Cilla’s dearest celebrity friends such as Dusty Springfield, Cliff Richard, Barry Manilow, Jimmy Tarbuck, Danny La Rue, Paul McCartney, George Martin & Gerry Marsden.

Performances included:

  • Step Inside Love (Intro version)
  • Hits Medley – Something Tells Me/Anyone who had a Heart/ Liverpool Lullaby/You’re My World
  • That’s What Friends are for (with Cliff Richard)
  • Heart and Soul (with Dusty Springfield)
  • Through The Years

 

Cilla Black on location with contestants of her game show 'The Moment of Truth'CILLA’S MOMENT OF TRUTH [LWT/ITV]
Broadcast between 5 Sep 1998 and 29 Sep 2001 (4 Series/37 Shows)

‘Cilla’s Moment of Truth’ was Cilla’s first family game show on British television. The show was based on the award-winning Japanese format entitled “Happy Family Plan” – the format involved competing families attempting to master a specified task with a week’s preparation. Cilla filmed the show on location around the U.K. and filmed the main show in London.

 

Cilla Black performing a song from the musical 'Gypsy' at the 2001 Royal Variety Performance2001 ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE [LWT/ITV]
Broadcast on 28 Nov 2001

Cilla surprised audiences when she appeared alongside actress Barbara Windsor and drag queen Lily Savage (Paul O’Grady) in a raunchy comedy routine of “You’ve Gotta Have a Gimmick” from the Broadway musical ‘Gypsy’. The performance was front page news the next day.

 

Cilla Black with a contestant and Ronan Keating on the set of her TV show ' Cilla's Sing With A Star'CILLA’S SING WITH A STAR [LWT/ITV]
Broadcast on 19 Oct 2002

This was a pilot of a new talent show which transformed the lives of several musical-wannabies by giving them the chance to sing their favourite song by their favourite star. What they didn’t know was their favourite star was waiting in the wings to join them! The show featured Ronan Keating, Liberty X, Russell Watson, Westlife and the cast of Mamma Mia.

 

 

The winning portrait chosen by Cilla Black on BBC's 'Star Portraits with Rolf Harris'STAR PORTRAITS WITH ROLF HARRIS [BBC]
Broadcast on 5 Jun 2005
{Available on DVD set Star Portraits – Series 2}

Cilla was a guest on Series 2 of Rolf Harris’ popular BBC show. In it, three artists each paint a picture of the celebrity and then the celebrity gets to choose to keep one of the paintings.

 

 

Cilla Black with soap opera stars promoting the reality show 'Soapstar Superstar'SOAPSTAR SUPERSTAR [Granada/ITV]
Broadcast between 6 Jan 2006 and 14 Jan 2006 (1 Series/9 Shows)

‘Soapstar Superstar’ was a new reality show which was on nightly for 9 consecutive days. Ten soap opera stars battled it out on stage in front of a celebrity panel battling to be crowned as the show’s “ultimate” singing superstar.  Cilla was a judge on the panel.

 

Cilla Black with Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr during the filming of a comedy sketch on the TV series 'The Friday Night Project'THE FRIDAY NIGHT PROJECT: CILLA BLACK [Channel 4]
Broadcast on 31 Aug 2007

Cilla was a guest host on the final episode of Series 5 of the award-winning TV show. She joined regular comic-star hosts Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr in the show’s usual blend of wacky comedy sketches, Alan’s topical comedy news desk Friday Night News and a no-questions-barred session from the studio audience.

 

Cilla Black with Piers Morgan on the set of his talk show 'Piers Morgan's Life Stories'PIERS MORGAN’S LIFE STORIES: CILLA BLACK [ITV]
Broadcast on 10 Oct 2009

British journalist Piers Morgan conducted an in-depth interview with Cilla about her life and career for the Series 2 of his popular chat show. The interview touched upon Cilla’s illustrious career in the entertainment business, her shock decision to quit her top-rated show ‘Blind Date’, the loss of her beloved husband to cancer and the death of her premature baby girl Ellen – 34 years ago.

 

Cilla Black on the set of talk show 'Loose Women'

LOOSE WOMEN [ITV]
Guest Presenter between 30 Oct 2009 & 15 Jun 2011 (2 Series/13 Shows)

Cilla appeared as a guest presenter during Series 14 & 15 of the British lunchtime television programme ‘Loose Women’. The show consists of a panel of four female stars who interview celebrities and discuss topical issues, ranging from daily politics and current affairs, to celebrity gossip.

 

Cilla Black on location filming the comedy series 'Benidorm'BENIDORM – SERIES 4: CILLA’S VILLA [ITV]
Broadcast on 25 Feb 2011
{Available on DVD set Benidorm – Series 4}

Cilla was invited by writer Derren Litten to be a guest star on the opening episode to Series 4 of his sun soaked cult comedy ‘Benidorm’. Cilla appeared, as herself, in ‘Cilla’s Villa’ – the first episode of the new series. For the storyline the Liverpudlian superstar now owns Madge’s mansion in Benidorm much to the surprise of the Garveys (Siobhan Finneran and Steve Pemberton). She also has scenes with the swingers Donald (Kenny Ireland) and Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski) who help Cilla with her decorating. ‘Cilla’s Villa’ averaged an impressive 7.31m (30.2%) from 9pm which beat the previous peak  achieved during the show’s last series – it also proved to be the most watched programme in the UK on Friday evening!

 

Cilla Black on the set of her documentary 'Cilla's Unswung Sixties'CILLA’S UNSWUNG SIXTIES [YESTERDAY]
Broadcast on 19 Mar 2012

Cilla revealed  in this one hour documentary for the UK’s leading history channel Yesterday how the ’60s were not really that cool. The ‘swinging sixties’ are remembered as the decade in which a generation turned on, tuned in and dropped out. However, the reality is that for most people living in Britain the sixties were not that ‘groovy’. ‘Cilla’s Unswung Sixties’ tells the REAL story of Britain’s popular culture debunking myths and sidestepping stereotypes through the testimonies and archives of people who were there.

 

THE ONE AND ONLY CILLA BLACK [ITV]
Broadcast on 16 Oct 2013

Paul O’Grady presented a celebration of Cilla’s ‘Golden’ Anniversary (50 Years) in Showbusiness. Cilla herself looked back to where it all began with The Beatles in The Cavern Club and her time as a chart-topping singer, before she evolved into one of the UK’s best-loved TV hosts. For one night only, Cilla also resurrected ‘Blind Date’ and was joined by a host of special guests including Alison Moyet and Katie Melua who performed two of her classic hits.