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Sheridan Smith to play Cilla Black

Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical. Photo credit: Ellie Kurtz.

Story by Jack Foley

SHERIDAN Smith is to play Cilla Black in a new three part TV series for ITV.

The as-yet untitled drama will look at the singer’s friendship with Beatles man Ringo Starr and how it brought her to the attention of the band’s manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin.

According to ITV, it will look to “capture the essence of 1960s Liverpool”.

Jeff Pope, who along with Steve Coogan is Oscar and BAFTA nominated for his screenplay for the film Philomena, will pen the screenplay.

The drama will follow Black’s journey from being a young typist under her real name of Priscilla White to meeting and befriending Epstein and then recording and launching her music career at Abbey Road studios.

It will also explore her on-off relationship with her future husband, Bobby Willis.

Smith commented: “Her life story is fascinating. 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.”

And ITV director of drama Steve November added: “Jeff’s scripts offer an extraordinary insight into Cilla’s humble beginnings and meteoric rise to chart success. It’s fascinating to think of her hanging out back stage at the Cavern Club with The Beatles.”

Smith recently starred in the two-part BBC drama The 7.39 alongside David Morrissey and will also be seen playing murder victim Claire Webster alongside Reece Shearsmith in another ITV drama, The Widower, which is due to start shooting soon.

Filming on the Cilla Black drama is due to start in Liverpool in March.

Next story: Richard E Grant and Anna Chancellor join Downton Abbey