Sheridan Smith tackles Cilla Black

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Bafta-winning blonde actress Sheridan Smith plays the nation’s favourite red-head in ITV’s three-part biopic about Cilla Black’s rise to fame.

Cilla, which kicks off on Monday 15 September, charts the Liverpudlian’s ascent from typist and Cavern Club cloakroom attendant to number one recording artist and queen of Saturday night TV.

“To get to play an icon like that was an honour – scary, but an honour. Hopefully I’ve done her story justice,” the one-time star of BBC comedy Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps said.

The ITV series depicts how Cilla Black’s friendship with The Beatles helped her cross paths with manager Brian Epstein (played by Ed Stoppard). It also charts her romance with future husband Bobby (Aneurin Barnard) and also reveals how Cilla could be ruthless in her determination to make it to the top – and then to stay at the top.

Sheridan Smith is, as always, superb. She gives her depiction everything she’s got and the lovely period detail in Cilla will evoke strong sentimentality in anyone who was living it up in the Swinging Sixties.

Before his death in 1967, Epstein engineered Cilla’s switch to television with her own eponymous variety show, which ran until 1976 (with a theme tune penned by Paul McCartney).

But Cilla would go on to even greater success in the 1980s and 1990s reuniting families on Surprise Surprise! and asking ‘our Graham’ for a quick recap of the couples on Blind Date.

Those two shows gave her a phenomenal run on primetime telly from 1984-2003, making her a British entertainment legend. Little wonder she’s been given the biopic treatment. Cilla is the latest entry in a number of widely acclaimed TV biopics; we showcase a few here.

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