Cilla (TV Mini-Series 2014) Poster


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Required Viewing For 60s Music Fans
stevequaltrough14 October 2014
I have left one point off as, being from Liverpool, I can spot a dud Liverpool accent a mile off, and while the lead actors accents were very good, some of the "cough and spit" actors did not get the sixties accent correctly. The accent seems to have become more rough around the edges than in those days when BBC English ruled the airwaves. Other than that the series was a joy. I loved hearing Sheridan Smith's versions of 60s classics. I especially enjoyed the revival of "Love of the Loved" as I liked this song on its first release and thought it should have been a much bigger hit. As an 11 year old I was glued to the TV screen whenever Merseybeat stars appeared. I remember Cilla Black being interviewed and saying that she was more excited about that song getting to number 35 than she did about her next release getting to number 1. Watching this I had to sympathise with Cilla as I enjoyed the scenes of her singing in the Liverpool clubs better than her later more middle of the road studio recording, but that is an ageing Liverpool music fan for you! I also enjoyed seeing the remnants of 60s Liverpool in this show, looking as dingy as I remembered the street back cracks of the time. And my, didn't the place look a treat when it was dressed up as New York using Civic Buildings also still around from that60s era. People I have chatted to have proudly told me that they were served hot-dogs and Coke by Cilla at the Cavern, so it seems to have tapped a wave of warm affection from older inhabitants of Modern Liverpooltowards Cilla. There is surely scope for a series two as there are several big Cilla hits from the late 60s and 70s such as "Surround Yourself With Sorrow" "Conversations" and the recently revived "Something tells me Something's going to Happen Tonight" still to come plus some emotionally charged episodes in the life of Cilla. But as it stands anyone who is still in thrall to the music of this period,with specific reference to lovers of Lennon and McCartney songs should watch this to get another take on the Beatles story as it delivers new information on Brian Epstein's managing abilities. I also loved hearing "Bad To me" by Billy J Kramer(One of the "lost" Beatles compositions like "Love of the Loved"? Well done to all concerned. It really,truly left me wanting more. A feature it shared with its subject, the legendary Cilla Black
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alan3005818 September 2014
This is what I have been missing for a long time. Here we have a real drama that is totally down to earth English and something we can all relate to in one way or another.It is convincingly authentic in its atmosphere of post war Liverpool with the bomb sites and obvious lack of material things,but a feeling that things are about to get a lot better. A few dodgy accents does not detract from the work the producers and cast present us with.

Sheridan Smith is pure class AND She performs all the songs herself. This young lady has a great future ahead of her. This could well move on to Londons West End and be big success. Well done ITV for giving people what they want.
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Review of TV series Cilla.
terry-newman19924 September 2014
I was at school in the 1950's and 1960's and yes I also noticed a number of inaccuracies, but this was not the point of the programme. There are plenty of historical books and websites out there if that is what you want. The programme is all about capturing the hopes and dreams of young musicians during a very exciting period in popular music, and this it does perfectly. Any references to the Beatles are in the context of the story itself and are not intended to be an detailed account of their movements. If any of the inaccuracies had detracted from the storyline then I am sure that Cilla herself would have objected to it. So just sit back and enjoy the programme and avoid any unnecessary nitpicking.
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Whiter than Black
Lejink2 October 2014
Cilla Black is probably best-known in the UK for her family entertainer TV persona which started with her own variety show but eventually led to her massive success as the giggling genial hostess of awful but long-running TV shows like "Surprise Surprise" and "Blind Date". Originally though, she came to prominence as a singer in the early 60's as part of Brian Epstein's post-Beatles Merseybeat stable and this 3-part series covers just that period, I certainly wouldn't have tuned in if it had gone beyond that.

Miss Black is on record herself as saying her lifestyle even in the swinging 60's was hardly rock and roll even with her association with the Beatles who mentored her and wrote some of her hit songs. Thus you won't find too much excitement or danger in her rags to riches story, besides some religious tension between her Protestant family upbringing and that of her Catholic boyfriend and road manager, later her manager and husband Bobby Willis, the usual ups and downs of her relationship with Willis, some strain between her and a distracted Brian Epstein, plus of course her rise to fame from Cavern hat-check girl to appearing on the London Palladium and topping the charts.

Sheridan Smith, who does all her own singing too and Aneurin Bernard are personable in these two main roles although a lack of likeness in other key parts, such as the Beatles and Epstein weakens veracity a touch. Some licence is taken with the facts too, like Cilla being told her record has magically made it to number 1 as if from nowhere when in reality it took weeks to climb to the top. I could also have done with a little less concentration on the troubled Epstein's unconventional personal life which probably belongs in a bio-drama of its own.

Nevertheless this was pleasant and likable if slightly over-polite (well, Cilla is still alive and something of a national treasure, I guess you'd say) entertainment with some good songs and performances thrown in for good measure.
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Surprisingly Good Biopic of a British Institution
l_rawjalaurence1 October 2014
On the face of it the life of Cilla Black (née Priscilla White) might seem an unprepossessing subject for a biopic. After a brief period as a singing star in the mid-1960s, she gradually moved into more middle-of-the-road activities such as hosting her own television Show CILLA, acting in pantomime and subsequently becoming the host of BLIND DATE and SURPRISE SURPRISE. Her chief claim to fame in her early years seems to be her association with The Beatles at the beginning of their careers.

Nonetheless Paul Whittington's drama proves compelling viewing. This is chiefly due to a series of stellar performances - although Sheridan Smith bears little facial resemblance to the character she lays, she communicates Black's verbal and gestural nuances perfectly, that combination of sheer drive and homespun charm that helped Black to remain at the top of her profession for thirty-plus years. Smith also has a wonderful singing voice: at the end of each of the three parts, we are told that she sang everything live. This is quite the best characterization I have seen from this talented actress.

Smith is admirably complimented by Aneurin Barnard as her road manager (and later her husband) Bobby Willis. Initially he comes across as a bit of a lad, someone who willingly lies about his age and profession in order to pursue the girl of his dreams. As time passes, however, so he understands the depth of his attraction to Cilla; he even passes up the chance of a stellar career of his own in order to be with her. The love-scenes between the two are really touching, as we understand how they were simply made for one another. Especially in her early career, Cilla could not record without seeing Bobby out of the corner of her eye.

As Brian Epstein, Ed Stoppard has a difficult role to play as a stellar manager with a complicated - not to say disastrous - private life at a time when homosexuality was still a crime. We understand a lot about his contradictions; his brilliant flair for publicity and/or finding the right people to further Cilla's burgeoning career, allied to his desperate need for love, something that he can never find. Epstein was the rock upon which Cilla constructed her career - although never in love with him, she found she could seldom do without him. In a poignant sequence set in a hotel restaurant, she learns of his premature death through an overdose of sleeping-pills, and collapses into Bobby's arms.

Stylistically speaking CILLA's narrative comprises a series of intimate sequences that convincingly recreate the atmosphere of early Sixties Liverpool and London Director Whittington is also fond of the aerial shot that gives a panorama of the industrial landscapes in which Black grew up. While certain aspects of her life have been omitted - notably her stint as a server in a restaurant - Jeff Pope's script vividly recaptures her social background in which religion and morality played such a significant part. This three-part biopic is definitely worth watching, not only for its entertainment value but for its evocation of a long-vanished world of working-class life.
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Best drama series on TV for years
UKkev29 September 2014
I am teary-eyed that this excellent 3-part drama series has now finished. Sheridan Smith must surely be Britain's best actress at the moment and I totally believed in her performance and characterisation. Her vocals were superb - take note X-Factor, THIS is how to perform songs. Full marks too to the supporting cast (partner Bobby, her father, etc) - there should be acting awards all round and a writers award to Jeff Pope. In fact I hope ITV commission Jeff to write "Cilla 2" because I want to see Sheridan, Aneurin, and all, continue this story from where it left off in January 1968 to take in stuff like how she turned down Eurovision 1968 (Cliff did it instead), her psychedelic film flop later that year, her marriage to Bobby, her 8 straight years of hosting her own smash hit BBC TV show, her two sitcom series for ATV in the mid 1970s for which she was voted Britain's top female comedy star, her LWT series Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, Bobby's sad passing in 1999, etc etc.

Come on ITV - find some way to continue this story!
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Pretty good
bbewnylorac17 October 2015
Cilla Black is revered in England and no wonder. Working class girl befriends The Beatles before they were The Beatles, gets up to sing at Liverpool's Cavern Club, and improbably goes on to international fame. The locations are lush, with lots of gritty brick urban streetscapes and great 1960s fashion. But it's subtle and not overdone. And The Beatles are portrayed, but in a nicely casual way. The music is great -- it comes across as live; it's not over-produced. The lead actors are great. The woman playing Cilla is quite suited to the role -- the girl next door but confident and sassy. But her voice isn't as good as the real Cilla Black -- it's a little too low and Smith sometimes belts put those songs rather than sings them. As her boyfriend Bobby Willis, Aneurin Barnard is great -- the character is initially a bit flaky, but turns out to be a solid support to her. The story hums along at a steady pace. The dialogue is a bit clunky at times, and the Liverpool accents can be hard to understand. The third and final episode is the weakest. Black may have had too much input into the script because Cilla and Bobby barely kiss, and keep chaste separate hotel rooms. If it's true Cilla vetoed Bobby recording songs because she wanted him to look after her, it's a bit disturbing. The series ends rather abruptly but I suppose the 1960s 'star is born' phase had ended, and that was the point of the show. Overall, a good effort.
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quite entertaining but not always so factual
jonnithomas22 September 2014
It's a biopic and historically inaccurate if you are a Beatles fan and know some of the actual history of the early Beatles years.

Having said that it is well produced and reasonably acted. It is quite entertaining if you like the period and accept it as a biopic which overlooks some of the facts like she was a waitress at the Zodiac cafe.

You will enjoy the program if you can overlook some of the details.

The main actress is likable, believable and performs well in the role. Her future husband comes across as rather doe eyed and almost submissive. The Beatles characters lack any depth and I think would have already been to Germany once by then if the year is supposed to be 1960/61.

I have only watched the first two of the three parts.
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Norra lorra laffs for our Cilla.....
ianlouisiana24 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Miss S.Smith does a nice impression of Cilla Black and in fact sings rather better than the original in a competent enough if not inspired series celebrating Miss Black's fifty years as an entertainer. Starting out as a raunchy R & B singer she joined Svengali Brian Epstein's stable and changed to an anodyne M.O.R. artiste and ultimately a family TV favourite - the classic path followed by such as Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard before her and many others since. In later years she has become a bit of a cliché figure with her scouse accent broadening to the point of self - parody,but she gave every song her all and was a celebrity before the word became a curse. The mis - en - scene is familiar to anybody who has watched TV or seen a British kitchen sink drama over the last 60 years,oop north,outside privies,mums in aprons,dads in sleeveless pullies,back to back housing.. .....this very familiarity is now a comfort and Miss Black so much a part of our culture that it almost writes itself. The first episode is a bit glum and ends on a down note that might have broken a lesser woman but Cilla has guts and,at least in her case,talent - as they say - will out. She never seems particularly happy and I wondered at the end whether she might have preferred to have remained a pecunious but artistically fulfilled R&B singer rather than having to churn out "Anyone who had a heart" for fifty years - but I'll guess we'll never know.
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The Biop Curse
dedeurs16 October 2017
Sheridan Smith is British, she's sassy, she's - when required - very 1960s mod. Most noticeable 'flaw': she doesn't have the famous Cilla Black crooked front teeth... Sheridan can also sing, taking in account that it's not her profession. Still her vocals are the big problem in this TV biop. For me, and everyone else who is very familiar with Cilla Black's records, Smith's vocals are almost painful. The real Cilla had a clear and truly phenomenal voice. Soft and tender one moment, the next belting out like a fog horn. Her enemies called her a 'nasal screech', but it's for sure a voice no one can imitate easily.

The 'Alfie' recording session with Burt Bacharach almost admits it. It's true that Burt Bacharach was a perfectionist and probably demanded from all the singers he worked with to do take after take after take, but in this scene he seems to think "Cilla Who again? Give me Dionne and Dusty any time." Well, Cilla Black was more than up to her 1960's contemporaries. Listen to the authentic Alfie recording session as can be found on YouTube. It may have been her 3rd or 30th take, but she leaves you breathless. What a voice, what an emotion. (A question for the director or costumer, though. In the Alfie studio session scene, Sheridan sports Cilla Black's new hair style for 1966. Why not the quite iconic Mary Quant dress as well?)

It must be very difficult to find actors who look like famous people as they were in their younger days. I found Brian Epstein too handsome and well-mannered. George Martin and Ringo Star fared better, and the actor who played Cilla's boyfriend aka roadmanager and future husband Bobby Willis is the spitting image of the real one. But when I fail to recognize Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best at all, it's both confusing and distracting.

What leading lady Sheridan Smith lacks in vocal similarities, she more than makes up in looks and charisma. She is Cilla Black as I remember her from the 1964-1965 TV appearances. In fact, it's Sheridan who gloriously saves the 3-episode series 'Cilla' from being a major drag. And had the vocals been play-backed, I would have awarded this with a 10.
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Great entertainment
winters_day25 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I was so looking forward to seeing this mini series. I remember seeing Cilla on TV as a child. I watched all three episodes in one sitting. I had to keep watching until the end. Sheridan is excellent as Cilla and she really did remind me of her. Aneurin was fantastic as Bobbie and I particularly loved the scenes between Cilla's dad and Bobby. It was a bit disconcerting to see Aneuin with blonde hair but he did kind of look like Bobby (judging from the photo in the credits. It made me laugh and there were some really intense scenes particularly the last one with Cilla and Brian. At times I felt really sorry for Bobby and a bit angry as Cilla for treating him the way she did sometimes. I would definitely recommend this mini series to any one even if they don't know Cilla. Its just a really good story and the actors were all superb in my view.
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What's It All About, Cilla?
jpcdee1 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Sheridan Smith is turning into the female version of Michael Sheen. Whenever there is a biopic, she's the go-to woman! Primarily known for her comedy, Smith has excelled in recent years with her gripping dramas like Mrs Biggs, and now Cilla. Her singing career has only ever been seen in the theatres, but now, even with the mimicry, Smith has proved that she can sing, and sing damn well.

As well as focusing on Cilla's career, you also get to see what Brian Epstein was like too. To The Beatles fans, Epstein is well known. or at least his name is known, I learnt several things thanks to this drama!

Many of the key moments are well researched. For example, in the third episode where Cilla sings 'Alfie' for Burt Bacharach, I had just seen the same real life clip on YouTube.

Some might dispute how much of The Beatles' involvement in Cilla's early career is accurate, but it was completely believable!

All in all, great mini-series, and to answer another reviewer's hope for more episodes, sadly there won't be as the real life picture and pre-credit notes filled in those gaps.
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No surprise surprise
Prismark1021 September 2015
Cilla Black passed away in August 2015. If this 2014 drama was made now I guess it would be more warts n all than this more respectful biopic shown in 2014.

Sheridan Smith Cilla who until recently was more known for comedies plays Cilla and also does her own singing here.

Aneurin Barnard plays Bobby her early manager, lover and later her husband. However I found his hairdo which might had been a wig rather off putting.

The film is a straightforward drama of a wannabe singer plucked out in the Merseybeat 1960s, who gets the attention of Brian Epstein, becomes buddies with the Beatles, tries to break America and later on takes her first steps on television. You see her blossoming relationship with Bobby across the religious divide, he seems rather too credulous being in awe of her and later of Epstein. Although given that Epstein was the manager of the biggest pop band in the world that's hardly a surprise.

The drama is personable as the late Miss Black. Rather inoffensive and somewhat bland. You always get the feeling that some liberties have been taken with the truth.

As a kid I remember The Cilla Black Show on Saturdays nights on BBC1. This was years before she became a mainstay on ITV's Blind Date. Once the pop hits start to dry up and tastes started to change she rather niftily moved to television and stayed there for several decades. You do not get to stay at the top of the showbusiness ladder, a cutthroat world by just being cheeky and nice. There was more to Cilla and Bobby but it was not covered here.

How cutthroat is showbusiness? Just before he died, The Beatles left Epstein's management. Just imagine some chancer got hold of Lennon and McCartney and persuaded them that they could be a better manager than the man who made them the biggest band in the world!
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Would Like Some Data on Cilla's Background
WeldonHenley30 January 2015
One reviewer wrote about Cilla's Protestant family. Wasn't she raised Roman Catholic? I believe she attended St. Anthony's School. I would appreciate clarification on this. The DVD is non USA formatted, so it cannot be played o most players in the U.S. at this time - Hopefully the series will appear on The BBC in America channel some time in the very near future. Also, I find it strange that no further installments detailing Cilla's further career are planned in view of the rave reviews for the series. Thanks for all of the reviews for this series, as I've found all of them informative and well- written. One of the reasons I am looking forward to seeing this series is that I've read about twelve reviews and all are positive ones.
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