Surprise Surprise chuck, it’s a three-part drama on the early life of Cilla Black.

ITV have commissioned a drama from Jeff Pope charting the rise to fame of Cilla Black. Cilla will star Sheridan Smith as the famous Liverpudlian howler.

There are plenty of critics today of shows such as The Voice and The X Factor, but the Cilla Black story proves that even in the 1960s, by being at the right place at the right time, you could go far with the right talent.

Cilla tells of her amazing, and at times rocky rise, to fame and 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.

The drama will show that if it hadn’t been for a few talented pals, the girl who howls like a banshee, maybe today would be scrubbing floors in Gala Bingo. Yes Cilla’s friendship with John, Paul, George and Ringo gave her a music 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.

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, – Sheridan Smith

Filming of Cilla begins in Liverpool in March and will take in some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the world famous Cavern Club. Cilla Black went from singer to television personality in the late 1960s with variety, comedy and entertainment series for the BBC and ATV.

In the 80s after a lull in her career an appearance on Terry Wogan’s chat show renewed interest in the Black magic and LWT signed her up to host Surprise, Surprise and later Blind Date.

ITV celebrated Cilla’s 50 years in showbiz last year with a 90-minute special hosted by fellow Merseyside star Paul O’Grady.

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