SURPRISE, surprise, Cilla Black wasn’t always a game show host. Yes, I know she started out as a singer - who can forget Step Inside Love? Her lesser known talent, I’ve discovered, was as a comic actress. The 70-year-old, currently celebrating five decades in showbusiness, turned her hand to acting in the 70s, a short time after scoring her 11 Top Ten hits and before cementing her career as a TV presenter with Blind Date in the 80s.
In 1975, however, the Liverpudlian was creating laughter in a series called Cilla’s Comedy Six - a year later, Cilla’s World of Comedy followed.
Each series consisted of six half-hour comedies. Playing ‘everywoman’ characters in episodes boasting titles like She’ll Have To Go, Get Me To The Church!, No Harem For Henry and Every Husband Has One!, there’s nothing subtle about Cilla’s bids to break into comedy.
While many of the gags would be considered un-PC by today’s standards, it’s interesting to note Cilla’s roles are all strong females, always one step ahead of, and in control of, her male counterparts, whether that be father, husband or boss.
Both series are now available on DVD for the first time, which is how I became aware of Cilla’s hidden talents. Mischievous and endearing I’m surprised she didn’t pursue her acting further - a stint as a Liver Bird could easily have been on the cards. Always at her best when playing the girl next door, there is also guilty pleasure to be taken from watching the episodes in which she has to adopt a posh, upper-class demeanour - there’s just no disguising those lilting, strangled Scouse vowels. Trust Cilla to supply a lorra, lorra laughs, even if they’re not all intentional.
Cilla’s Comedy Six (PG) & World of Comedy (PG), Networkonair.com, released 7 October, £8.16 each