OBE (born Priscilla Maria Veronica White
, 27 May 1943) is an English singer, actress, entertainer and media personality. She began her career as a singer in 1963, and is most famous in the UK for her singles "Anyone Who Had a Heart" (1964) and "You're My World" (1964), both of which reached number one. Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between 1964 and 1971. In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was the UK's biggest selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. "You're My World" was also a modest hit in the United States, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard
Hot 100, and both songs were among the chart-toppers in Australia.After a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, and a brief time as a comedy actress in the 1970s, Black became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s.In 2013, Black celebrated her 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honoured this milestone with a one-off Entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black
, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O'Grady.BBCBlack was offered her own show on the BBC by Bill Cotton, then Assistant Head of Light Entertainment. The first series of Cilla
was broadcast on Tuesday 30 January 1968. On the first show her guest was Tom Jones and the two popular music stars sang a duet together. Paul McCartney (without Lennon) wrote the theme tune - another chart success for Black - entitled "Step Inside Love". This song was later covered by Madeline Bell. The series was very popular, and ran for almost a decade, racking up eight seasons (66 episodes) between January 1968 and April 1976. Although it featured guest appearances by many famous stars of the era (including Cliff Richard, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Charles Aznavour, Ringo Starr, Lulu, Matt Monro, Sacha Distel, Donovan, Georgie Fame, Dusty Springfield, Ethel Merman, The Shadows, Phil Everly, Marc Bolan, Jimmy Tarbuck and Ronnie Corbett), most of the episodes (recorded on videotape) were subsequently erased by the BBC.This success paved the way for a lengthy television career which continued intermittently until 2003. Black began the 1970s by appearing on the BBC's highly rated review of the sixties music scene Pop Go The Sixties
, performing "Anyone Who Had a Heart" live on the show broadcast across Europe and BBC1, on 31 December 1969. Black recorded her performance for this show separately, in a different studio without an audience, although she did sing live.Like so many of her contemporaries, during the 1970s her musical career declined, although she toured often. Increasingly thought of as a television "personality", she found herself experimenting with situation comedy for ITV. Her BBC series, Cilla
, continued successfully until 1976, recessing during 1970, 1972 and 1975. The theme songs from the Cilla
series were also successful. Step Inside Love
opened the series in both the 1968 and 1969 runs and reached number 8 in the UK singles chart on its release. Something Tells Me (Something's Gonna Happen Tonight)
was the theme for the 1971 and 1973 shows, reaching number 3 and becoming Black's last top ten success. "Baby, We Can't Go Wrong" was used for the 1974 series and was a minor success, reaching number 36, Black's last UK chart song until 1993. "It's Now" was the final theme from the 1976 series and failed to reach the charts, though it was released as a "B" side.The UK's Eurovision Song Contest
entry selection process was part of the Cilla
show in both 1968 and 1973, when her close friend Cliff Richard was the featured artist performing all the songs shortlisted in the A Song For Europe
segment. Black was originally asked to sing for the UK in 1968 and was asked again for the 1970 contest, but declined because she was pregnant at the time.In 2007, Black took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about her Welsh family history, with roots in Wrexham and Holywell.
On 15 January 1975, Black performed as main entertainer of the first of six half-hour situation comedy plays. The series which was broadcast on ITV was entitled Cilla's Comedy Six
and written by Ronnie Taylor. During May 1975, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain named Black as Britain's Top Female Comedy Star
. The following year, ATV was commissioned to film six more plays as the initial series had accrued healthy viewing figures and remained constantly among the best scoring three shows of the week. During August 1976, Black reprised her role as a comedy-actress in Cilla's World of Comedy
which featured her theme song and new single "Easy in Your Company".From 2013/14, Black will co-star in a new BBC sitcom Led Astray
, alongside Paul O'Grady - the pilot episode was recorded on 31 October 2013.
London Weekend Television
By the beginning of the 1980s, Black was performing mainly in cabaret and concert and absent from television since a 1978 Thames Television special. In 1983, she appeared on the BBC's Wogan
programme. Her appearance on this peak-time talk show was a major success, and her career in television was resurrected.She signed a contract with London Weekend Television, becoming the host of two of the most popular and long-running evening entertainment shows of the 1980s and 1990s—Blind Date
(1985–2003) and Surprise Surprise
(1984–2001). She also presented the game show The Moment of Truth
(1998–2001). All programmes were mainstream ratings winners and consolidated her position as the highest-paid female performer on British television.Her TV appearances have made her spoken mannerisms ("Lorra lorra laughs", for example) and her habit of referring familiarly to her fellow presenters ("Our Graham") well known.
Recent television work
Notable television performances since her resignation from LWT have included Parkinson
, So Graham Norton
, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
, Room 101
and a one off show titled Cilla Live!
for Living TV. Black was a judge on the first series of the reality TV series Soapstar Superstar
, has featured in an episode of the series Eating with...
and has guest presented editions of The Paul O'Grady Show
and The Friday Night Project
for Channel 4 in 2006 and 2007 respectively.Black filmed a pilot dating show for Sky One during 2008. The project referred to as Loveland was to be a ten-part "21st century" dating programme for the channel for the next year. Unlike on Blind Date, which Black hosted for 18 years, contestants would not sit in front of a studio audience but would be 'hidden' behind real-time animations as they date each other. Each episode concludes with the contestant picking their preferred animated character before meeting that person in real life. Production costs, however, were too high and it was terminated.In October 2009, Black guest anchored Loose Women
and between September 2010 and June 2011, she made guest panellist appearances.On 28 November 2009, she appeared on the channel Sky1 to present TV's Greatest Endings
. She also appeared as herself in the first episode of series 4 of ITV comedy-drama Benidorm
in 2011. She has also appeared as the guest host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks
on 5 December 2011.
50 Years in Showbusiness
ITV honoured Black's 50 years in show business with a one off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black
starred Black alongside Paul O'Grady, who hosted the show. The show celebrated Black's career including a special trip back to Black's hometown Liverpool, a host of celebrity friends and some surprise music guests. Black paid homage to Blind Date
with the return of its most popular contestants and saw her star in a special edition of Coronation Street
- Piers Morgan's Life Stories (10 October 2009) - Subject for one episode
- Paul O'Grady's Christmas (24 December 2010) - Guest
- Benidorm (25 February 2011) - Herself
- Keith Lemon's LemonAid (7 April 2012) - Guest
- 100 Years of The Royal Variety Performance (7 December 2012) - Guest
- Room 101 (1 February 2013) - Guest
- Your Face Sounds Familiar (6 July 2013) - Guest judge
- Through the Keyhole (14 September 2013) - Panellist, alongside Holly Willoughby and Dave Berry, with host Keith Lemon.
- The Jonathan Ross Show (12 October 2013) - Guest
- This Morning (16 October 2013) - Guest
- Surprise Surprise (1 December 2013) - Guest, returned to the show for a one-off appearance
Cilla (2014 drama series)
On 16 February 2014, ITV commissioned Cilla
, a three-part drama about Black's life and career. BAFTA-award winning actress Sheridan Smith will play Cilla when filming starts in Liverpool in March 2014.
Black was married to her manager Bobby Willis for more than 30 years until his death from lung cancer on 23 October 1999. They had three sons: Robert (now her manager, born in 1970), Ben (born in 1974), and Jack (born in 1980).Black is a very strong supporter of the British Conservative Party and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, stating in 1993 that she made Britain great again. In 1992 she appeared on stage at a Conservative Party rally and made prominent calls for the party's re-election under the leadership of John Major.
- 1963–73: George Martin
- 1974–77: David Mackay
- 1978: Mike Hurst
- 1980: Bruce Welch
- 1985: David Mackay
- 1990: Rod Edwards
- 1993: Charlie Skarbek
- 2003: Ted Carfrae