Sheridan Smith to play ‘Cilla’ in new ITV drama biopic

Sheridan Smith to star as liverpudlian songstress

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Mrs Biggs star Sheridan Smith is to play Cilla Black in a three-part biopic, ‘Cilla’ by acclaimed writer Jeff Pope (Lucan, Mrs Biggs) for ITV.

‘Cilla’ tells of her rocky rise to fame of Priscilla White (her real name) in 1960s Liverpool and shows how Cilla’s burgeoning friendship with the Beatles shaped her career.

The drama looks at how she met the two men who came to love her and ultimately fought over her – future husband Bobby Willis – 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. And legendary manager Brian Epstein (who also guided the career of The Beatles), the shy young entrepreneur 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.

Sheridan Smith is delighted to be taking on the role of the young Cilla:

“I am thrilled to be playing Cilla, as she is a British icon. In the 60s, as a young girl from Liverpool, she had numerous number ones and sang with The Beatles, her life story is fascinating,” said Sheridan.

“I’m so excited and can’t wait to start filming. Golden Globe and Oscar nominated Jeff Pope has written it and Paul Whittington, who directed Mrs Biggs is directing. Add to that Kwadjo Dajan producing and Lesley Brennan doing the make up and I am working with an absolute dream team. 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 can’t wait to get up to Liverpool (my favourite city) and start filming. I’m really honoured and just hope I do her story justice,” she added.

“Jeff’s scripts offer an extraordinary insight into Cilla’s humble beginnings and meteoric rise to chart success,” said Steve. “He captures Liverpool life back in the 60s through her eyes and it’s fascinating to thinking of her hanging out back stage at the Cavern Club with The Beatles,” said ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November.

Filming of Cilla begins in Liverpool next month (March 2014) and will take in some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the world famous Cavern Club.

Further casting will be announced closer to transmission.