One of the most successful loved and multi-talented women in showbiz, Cilla Black was a pioneer for women in media. From her early teens she always had a drive to make something of herself and she sure made it clear that she was determined not to be a girl best suited for office work, and how right she was.
Her career began when she was working part-time as a cloakroom attendant Cavern Club in Liverpool. The same club The Beatles would play at. After making her debut at the now famous Cavern Club, Cilla went on to release 15 studio albums, 37 singles and became the best-selling UK female artist of the 1960’s. On top of hosting some of the most well-known British television shows which included “Surprise Surprise” and “Blind Date”, I think it’s safe to say she is an icon of our times, and although these words get thrown around far to often she really is a national treasure.
When I first started as a TV presenter 15 years ago Cilla was my first inspiration. I used to say tongue in cheek that I wanted to be “the black Cilla black”. She was a natural entertainer, who charmed the nation week after week on her TV shows. Cilla was no ordinary woman, she worked exceptionally hard over a 60 year career and also had a genuine passion about performing, which is what made her so special.
Born Priscilla White, Ms Black was also known for her famous catch phrases. A majority of them coming from her hugely successful show Blind Date, reaching audiences of over 18.2 million viewers on weekly on ITV in the 80s. “Lorra lorra laughs” and “What’
s your name and where d’ya come from?” are two of her most famous catch phrases which kept the audience glued to their sofas for 18 years.
Over the decades Cilla presented and acted in countless television programs such as The Moment of Truth, Benidorm and performed at the The Royal Variety in 2001, which arguably is one of the most memorable Royal Variety performances ever. She also got offered to appear on X-Factor as judge in 2006 by Simon Cowell, however Cilla declined as she said she would find it too hard to put down the less talented contestants. On top of X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing were grasping to get their hands on her too as a contestant. However she declined by saying no ‘oldie’ had won Strictly and she didn’t want to participate by entering something she didn’t win.
Although wanted by Simon Cowell and loved by a majority of the world, there was an exception to some including artist Gillian Wearing. Gillian designed on G2’s cover paper a picture that read ‘F**CK CILLA BLACK.’ The feature’s purpose was to instigate a boycott on Cilla’s brand of ‘nice television’ to a abrupt end. However although having an effect on her family, Cilla wasn’t bothered by the article and had a pretty cool-headed reaction by responding that she “wanted to buy a copy and hang it on her wall.” All in all Cilla was an outstanding woman. Appearing in an interview on ‘Loose Women’ she said she’d rather see young, attractive people when she switched on her TV rather than herself. She received a special award at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2014 for marking her 50 years in showbiz which she truly deserved. Although she has sadly passed away at the age of just 72, throughout her life she has made a remarkable impact. Women of all ages can regard her legacy as an inspirational and formidable woman who has had such a huge impingement on the world of showbiz.
This is why I believe Cilla Black OBE should definitely have a place in my “How Women Changed the World” Hall of Fame.