Third episode title card
|Written by||Jeff Pope|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||3|
|Running time||45–47 minutes|
|Production company(s)||ITV Studios in association with GroupM Entertainment|
|Picture format||16:9 1080i|
|Original release||15 September– 29 September 2014|
Cilla is a British drama television miniseries about the early career of Cilla Black. It was broadcast in three parts on ITV, and began on 15 September 2014 with Sheridan Smith playing the starring role. Smith was highly praised for her performance.
The series is based around Black's hometown of Liverpool and follows her rise to fame from 1960 amateur appearances in clubs, her relationships with Bobby Willis and Brian Epstein to the latter's death in 1967.
Episode 1 (15 September 2014)
In 1960s Liverpool, young Priscilla "Cilla" White is working as a typist, but frequently performs at Liverpool's famed Cavern Club, where she meets young singer-songwriter Bobby Willis. Mersey Beat, a local music publication, prints an article on Cilla in which she is mistakenly referred to as "Cilla Black". However, young Cilla likes the sound of it and decides to use if for her stage name. It is arranged for her to audition for the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein. However, she gets a bad case of nerves and the song's key is too low for her, and she loses ground to her rival, Beryl Marsden.
Episode 2 (22 September 2014)
Three years later, Cilla's confidence returns after her disastrous audition. Bobby urges her to give singing another go, and Brian Epstein gives Cilla another chance to audition by inviting her into the studio to record what would become her debut single, Love of the Loved. The song fails to break the Top 30, but Brian then insists that Cilla change direction and take a gamble on a cover of a Dionne Warwick ballad entitled Anyone Who Had a Heart. The gamble pays off and Anyone Who Had a Heart shoots straight to the top of the charts.
Episode 3 (29 September 2014)
Cilla follows up Anyone Who Had a Heart with a second consecutive number one, You're My World. However, she fails in her subsequent bid to corner the American market and tempers flare in her blossoming relationship with Bobby who is beginning to feel sidelined as Cilla's ego causes her to force Bobby to turn down his own recording contract. In the meantime Brian Epstein's life is unraveling as The Beatles begin to scale back on their activities and eventually to drift apart, and Epstein, a closeted homosexual, continually seeks young men to rough him up and he lies to Cilla about how he suffered his bruises. Epstein develops a dependency on sleeping pills with tragic repercussions as he overdoses on the pills and dies. By his bed is a contract for Cilla to star in her own series. Cilla, distraught about Brian's death, signs the contract and Cilla debuts on the BBC in January 1968. Cilla later marries Bobby, and the miniseries ends with a photo of the real Cilla and Bobby on their wedding day in 1969.
|Character||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3|
For the role, Smith had to learn the two singing voices that Black uses, a loud belt she originally used to make herself heard in the noisy Cavern Club and a softer one she used in a recording studio.
- The offices of Liverpool Film Office stood in for the Cavern Club interior, with the Cavern's exterior represented by the Elude Bar and Restaurant on Porter Street.
- Cilla's family home at 380 Scotland Road (now demolished) was filmed in Holt Road, Kensington (exterior scenes), and the Belgrave pub in Bryanston Road in Aigburth (interior scenes).
- The family homes of Bobby Willis' (Anfield) and Ringo Starr's mother ("Welsh Streets", Aigburth) were represented by houses on Southwood Road.
- The scene showing Bobby running late to work was filmed on Everton Brow, with the 1960s Liverpool skyline recreated by CGI.
- The cast was variously filmed "wandering down Yates Street in Dingle, past the Cross Keys pub off Old Hall Street and drinking at Ye Cracke on Rice Street".
- Scenes filmed on the other side of the Mersey on the Wirral included the marriage of Bobby’s brother Kenny in Wallasey Town Hall (representing Liverpool Register Office), and beach scenes at Perch Rock in New Brighton.
- The Adelphi hotel was used for several settings, first as the Kenilworth Hotel in London where Cilla and Bobby met Brian Epstein, then another hotel that they visit following Cilla's London Palladium appearance. Subsequently it represented the Persian Room of New York's Plaza Hotel and also the Blackpool hotel in which Cilla stayed.
- Oh Me, Oh My! in Water Street served as the location for the Scotch of St James club scenes and also a New York nightclub.
- Scenes set in Cilla's London flat were filmed in Elmsley Road in Mossley Hill.
- Sound, Food & Drink on Duke Street in Liverpool, served as a location for where Bobby first introduces himself as Cilla's manager and negotiates her fee.
|2015||National Television Awards||Drama Performance||Sheridan Smith (for Cilla)||Won|
|British Academy Television Awards||Leading Actress||Sheridan Smith (for Cilla)||Nominated|
|Radio Times Audience Award||Cilla||Nominated|
|TV Choice Awards||Best Actress||Sheridan Smith (for Cilla)||Won|
|TV Choice Awards||Best New Drama||Cilla||Nominated|
|Royal Television Society Awards||Best Actress||Sheridan Smith (for Cilla)||Nominated|
|International Emmy Awards||Best Actress||Sheridan Smith (for Cilla)||Nominated|
The Telegraph wrote: "Smith sang her heart out, catching perfectly the bluesy belter within the girl next door, but rather than rushing her to fame, the action unfolded slowly enough to show her falling at the first hurdle as she became crippled with nerves singing for Brian Epstein. A drama this good, with Smith in sparkling form, knows it can take its time to flourish."
The Guardian wrote: "The third, and best, reason why Cilla is so watchable is Sheridan Smith. It's one of those extraordinary performances, like Julie Walters as Mo Mowlam, when an actress does more than play a real character; she becomes her, to the extent that it's hard for the viewer not to forget they're not actually watching a young Cilla Black. She sounds like her, too. I'd be interested to know what someone more qualified to judge (an actual Liverpudlian) thinks, but to me she utterly convinces as a Scouser, while some of the others don't. Also, the singing, which she does herself, is brilliant. And even when the singing isn't brilliant, she still is."
|Episode #||Ratings (in millions)|
Sourced by BARB; figures include ITV +1 and ITV HD broadcasts
The 8.6 million rating achieved for the first episode made the programme one of the most popular dramas to be shown on UK television in 2014
The series was released on DVD on 6 October 2014.
- "Sheridan Smith's Cilla Black drama adds Aneurin Barnard". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- "ITV commissions three-part drama Cilla, starring Sheridan Smith | presscentre". itv.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "Sheridan Smith to star as Cilla Black in new ITV drama - TV News - Digital Spy". digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "BBC News - Sheridan Smith to play Cilla Black in new ITV drama". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "Sheridan Smith to play Cilla Black in three-part ITV drama | Culture | theguardian.com". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "Cilla Black didn't want to appear in biopic". tvguide.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- Jade Wright (13 September 2014). "Recreating Cilla's Liverpool - behind the scenes to find the TV show locations". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Liverpool Film Office". Liverpool Film Office. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Worra Lorra Nostalgia! No one's more enchanted by the hit drama Cilla than Beatles biographer PHILIP NORMAN who says it's as if the Sixties Liverpool he loved has come back to life - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 April 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
- "BAFTA nominations: Sheridan Smith up for award for ITV series Cilla". ITV News.
- "Sheridan Smith as Cilla: What was the critics and Twitter verdict?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Does Cilla Black merit a biopic?". Telegraph.co.uk. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Welcome back, chuck! Cilla Black back in the Top 40 after 40 years". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "HIT SONG & ALBUM! Cilla's back in the Official UK Charts - CillaBlack.com". cillablack.com. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- Tufayel Ahmed (4 October 2014). "Sheridan Smith enters Top 40 with Cilla Black song Anyone Who Had a Heart decades after original hit". mirror. Retrieved 15 February 2015.