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Brían F. O'Byrne,
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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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