A behind-the-scenes glimpse at Cilla Black’s remarkable life has been shown in unearthed footage, found by her family in 2017 following her death.
Fascinating home footage, along with hours of audio recordings of Cilla telling her life story, is revealed in ITV’s Cilla: The Lost Tapes, which airs on Wednesday at 9pm.
Cilla, who died aged 72 in 2015, is seen telling her inspiring life story, from growing up in a council flat in Liverpool with dreams of becoming a star from the age of three, to being proposed to by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, and finding a new lease of life after the death of her beloved husband.
Narrated by Sheridan Smith, the nostalgic documentary includes interviews with the family and friends who knew Cilla best, and shares a glimpse inside the loving family life she enjoyed with husband of thirty years Bobby Willis and their three sons.
Fascinating home footage, along with hours of audio recording of Cilla telling her life story, is revealed in ITV’s Cilla: The Lost Tapes, which airs on Wednesday at 9pm. It shares a glimpse inside the loving family life she enjoyed with husband of thirty years Bobby Willis (seen in Sydney during her 1968 Tour to Australia In 2017)
Cilla Black is seen with son Robert at her home in Denham, Buckinghamshire in 1972
Growing up working class in Liverpool
Cilla was born in 1943 and lived with her parents and three brothers in a council house, remembering that all her mother ever wanted was ‘her own front door’.
Revealing that most women her age were expected to have a factory or office job, she said in uncovered audio tapes: ‘I had a focus in my life apart from getting married and having babies, I wanted to be a star from a very early age.
‘Girls my age either worked in a factory or an office, but I knew from the age of three that I wanted to go into showbiz.
‘There was no such thing as family holidays, only day trips to Blackpool or visiting my Auntie Lottie in Manchester.’
Buying her mum a house at 25
Cilla was millionaire by 25 at a time when the average woman made just £10 a week.
Recalling that the first thing she did was buy her mother a house with her own front door, she said: ‘The first thing I bought with my earnings was a new home for my mum, Priscilla, but she still complained, saying: ‘Couldn’t you have got me one closer to a bus stop?’.
Cilla recalled how she enjoyed skiing holidays with all the stars, and remembered how on one occasion her Beatles pal drummer Ringo Starr proposed to her
Spotting Hey Big Spender before Shirley Bassey
Recalling how she sang American hit Hey Big Spender in front of an audience which included Shirley Bassey’s secretary, she revealed that the woman reported back to the superstar who then decided to sing the hit – but admitted she had sung it first.
Being proposed to by Ringo Starr
Cilla recalled how she enjoyed skiing holidays with all the stars, and remembered how on one occasion her Beatles pal drummer proposed to her.
She said: ‘Ringo Starr was my friend – he even asked me to marry him, well he was desperate actually.
‘All the other Beatles had wives and he was the odd one out. I called his bluff and said: ‘Well call the band in 48 hours and I’ll do it’.
Cilla Black’s son Robert is seen in the documentary remembering how his father would do everything for his mother Cilla in a sweet marriage
Home movie showing Cilla Black skiing on holiday in Lech, Austria in 1969
Joking that she started girl power before the Spice Girls existed, she revealed: ‘You know Girl Power and all of that? Trust me, I was the original women’s lib-er.
‘I was headlining shows with an all-male bill underneath me. No one else was doing that.
‘I was the original girl power’.
Performing for the Queen when she was heavily pregnant
In 1970, when she was heavily pregnant with her first child Robert, she performed to the Queen, and remembered: ‘I made a bit of history as the Queen never knowingly up until then had been presented to a pregnant woman.
‘I was almost dropping so they had to ask permission from the palace and it was an unfortunate song choice as it was ‘oh pleasure man you’ve done it again’.
And despite a smooth performance from Cilla, her fellow performer Nigel revealed how he mistakenly clunked her on the head during the performance as he couldn’t get his partner’s hand high enough.
Pictured: Cilla Black in Denham, Buckinghamshire in 1972
Cilla Black in 2002 screen shot taken from a home movie filmed by Simon Cowell at his Los Angelas home
On her husband’s death
Cilla had been married to Bobby, her manager, for thirty years when he died suddenly after a short battle with cancer in 1999.
Speaking of the shock death of the man who had done everything for her, she said: ‘It took me two years to accept it and I would give my right arm to have him back.
‘Life trains you to carry on in front of the cameras, but I was a total wreck after filming [Blind Date].
On leaving Blind Date
Cilla left the show in 2003, having presented the hit show for 18 years.
A colleague working in the gallery revealed of her last episode, which was filmed live: ‘She made made the announcement she was leaving without telling the production team. Everyone in the gallery was shocked!’.
On independence after Bobby died
Bobby had done everything for Cilla, from managing her career, to ordering cabs.
Speaking in the documentary her friends and family revealed how she had never even withdraw money from the bank.
But after two years of mourning, Cilla began to find a new lease of life, going on holidays and to clubs with her gay friends, with footage showing her dining in Hollywood and staying at Simon Cowell’s LA mansion.
A pal revealed: ‘The first time she went to the pub and bought a round of drink she was aged 59, and she was ecstatic’.
Pictured: Cilla Black leaving her home in Denham, Buckinghamshire in 1972