Drama to chart fame of Cilla Black
11:26am Sunday 16th February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
The rise to fame of Cilla Black is to be explored in an ITV drama series starring Sheridan Smith as the singer turned TV star.
The three-part series Cilla will look back at her friendship with The Beatles in the early days of the Mersey scene and her relationship with husband Bobby Willis as she established her career.
Sheridan - who won acclaim for her portrayal of the wife of the late Ronnie Biggs in ITV series Mrs Biggs - said: "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."
The drama, written by Jeff Pope who wrote the screenplay for movie hit Philomena, will begin filming in Liverpool next month.
It looks at her relationship with the late Willis - a baker who eventually went on to guide her career - and Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager who put her on the road to fame and success. By the 1980s she was one of the most popular names on TV as host of Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.
Sheridan's name was first attached to the drama last summer but at the time it was reported to be a one-off film.
She added: 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."
ITV's director of drama Steve November said: "Jeff's scripts offer an extraordinary insight into Cilla's humble beginnings and meteoric rise to chart success.
"He captures Liverpool life back in the 60s through her eyes and it's fascinating to think of her hanging out back stage at the Cavern Club with The Beatles."