Sheridan Smith to play Cilla Black in new ITV drama

Sheridan Smith and Cilla Black

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Sheridan Smith is to play singer and TV presenter Cilla Black in a new three-part drama, ITV has announced.

The actress will star as the famous Liverpudlian in the drama, by Jeff Pope, which will "capture the essence of 1960s Liverpool".

It will look at her friendship with Ringo Starr which brought her to the attention of Beatles' manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin.

Smith said she was "thrilled" to be playing "a British icon" .

Black enjoyed nearly a dozen recording hits between 1961 and 1971.

She went on to become a prominent TV presenter with shows like Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise and, last year, celebrated her 50 years in showbusiness

Cilla Black

Cilla, written by Pope - who, along with Steve Coogan won a Bafta for his screenplay for the film Philomena, will follow her journey from a young typist under her real name of Priscilla White, to meeting and befriending Brian Epstein and then recording and launching her career at Abbey Road studios.

Her explosive on-off relationship with her future husband Bobby Willis will also be explored.

"Her life story is fascinating," said Sheridan. "I'm so excited and can't wait to start filming.

"Golden Globe-nominated Jeff Pope has written it and Paul Whittington, who directed Mrs Biggs, is directing."

Smith, who recently starred in the BBC's two-part The 7.39, said the drama would "hopefully show a younger audience what a star Cilla has always been and for the older generation they can relive those swinging 60s!"

"I hope I do her story justice," she added.

Filming on the drama is due to start in Liverpool in March

ITV director of drama Steve November said: "Jeff's scripts offer an extraordinary insight into Cilla's humble beginnings and meteoric rise to chart success.

"It's fascinating to thinking of her hanging out backstage at the Cavern Club with The Beatles."

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