Surprise Surprise for Sheridan Smith as Cilla

Sheridan Smith as Cilla. Pic: ITV
Sheridan Smith as Cilla. Pic: ITV
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AFTER winning a Bafta for her performances as the wife of a Great Train Robber in Mrs Biggs, you might think that starring in TV biopics held no fear for Sheridan Smith.

But Smith’s latest role sees her playing one of the most famous women on British telly - Cilla Black.

So, it’s not surprising the actress admits to being apprehensive about taking it on.

“The drama is slightly more daunting because Cilla is so well known. And it’s daunting thinking what Cilla will make of your performance,” she admits.

Even though she knows viewers will be comparing her to the genuine article, it seems Sheridan has resisted the temptation to slip in a lorra, lorra catchphrases.

“The director Paul Whittington and I talked for a long time. We didn’t want it to be a mimic of Cilla. I’m not an impersonator and that would be doing her a disservice. It’s done with much more respect than that.”

Of course, it also helps that when the three-part drama opens in the early 1960s, the artist formerly known as Priscilla White is still a secretary with a sideline in performing on Liverpool’s club scene alongside a certain bunch of hopefuls called the Beatles, before going on the find international singing success.

Sheridan says, “One of the great things about telling this story is that some of the younger generation have no idea about Cilla’s singing career.

“They know Blind Date and Surprise Surprise onwards. This is the time of Merseybeat - what an exciting era.”

It seems there’s just one person’s approval that Sheridan is hoping for - Cilla’s.

“We went to dinner and I was so nervous. She gave me her blessing. I hope she likes it.”