When I saw the recent London production of ‘Funny Girl’ I was mesmerized by its star, Sheridan Smith. She has that unenviable role of taking over a role that is so iconic and identified with someone string and popular. But I do think that Smith made that role her own. I know that there are differing opinions about her Fanny Brice, but I thought she was funny i. that role, and sang the role differently – maybe by choice because there’s no one who could outsing young Barbra.
Cilla is an ITV miniseries from 2014, before Smith did Funny Girl. And here she plays Cilla Black, a British singer in the 60s, of the Petula Clark vein. I know next to nothing about Black, though I should have – she is my kind of singer. This miniseries tells her life, of how she was discovered by Brian Epstein, who also discovered and managed The Beatles. I like the fact that the series isn’t your typical musical biopic – it isn’t one of those success and dark sides one. It shows Black being managed by this guy who later became her husband. He could have had a musical career of his own, but instead made her priority. The only ‘scandal’ is Epstein overdosing on drugs, but with her BBC contract already ready for her signature. Smith is truly wonderful. you get a real sense of Cilla, and she even does her own singing here – wonderful renditions of those 60s songs like ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart,’ and ‘You’re My World.’ I was glued to my screen in all three episodes.