Press Centre

Our Cilla

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Fri 25 Dec 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    10.45pm - 11.45pm
  • Week: 

    Week 52 2015 : Sat 19 Dec - Fri 25 Dec
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

Our Cilla celebrates the extraordinary showbiz legend through the people who knew and loved her the most.
This hour-long tribute hears not only from her fellow showbiz friends, but also the friends and colleagues who joined Cilla in her journey through life – from Liverpool singing sensation to the queen of Saturday night TV.
Famous faces – including Ringo Starr, Sir Cliff Richard, Christopher Biggins, Paul O’Grady and Lynda la Plante – join members of Cilla’s family, close friends and those who played a key role in her life, including her costume designer and hairdresser, to reveal the person behind the personality.
Alongside rare interview and archive footage of Cilla, the candid, humorous and surprising insights of the people who knew her best chart the journey of a woman who broke boundaries, both in terms of class and gender, to become a true one-off in the world of entertainment.
Cilla’s son, Robert Willis:
“She was an amazing mum, it was good fun to be with her.”
“My mum was the youngest woman ever to have her own primetime show on the BBC.
On his dad Bobby’s death: “It was so difficult for her just to acknowledge it.
On his mum’s death: “During the last two years she began to suffer fairly standard things that people as they get older would suffer. Her hearing had started to go, so she had to start wearing hearing aids. Typical of my mum, she wouldn’t wear them. The thing that really affected her physically was her arthritis.
“I’d gone for a jog, gone for a swim and stuff. She was sitting around having a glass of champagne killing herself laughing at Jeremy Kyle – without the hearing aids obviously – so blaring out across Marbella. We hung out and at about 1 o’clock, I said I was going to do a shop. I said goodbye and that was the last time I saw her.”
Cilla’s son, Ben Willis:
On his mum’s notorious nights out: “It was quite a funny role-reversal in terms of parent and child.”
On his dad Bobby’s death: “Dad was 57 when he passed away, and that hit everyone. It knocked mum for six.”
On his mum’s death: “She’d had a few falls, which she’d told us about. She was in the villa in Spain, the place that she loved, first day of the holiday.”
Paul O’Grady:
On Cilla’s hair: “The colour she used to use was called ‘Ginger Twist’. She called me up in a blind panic – they’d discontinued Ginger Twist. Everywhere in the world I went I’d go in and ask for it. They’d look at me with my white hair and I’d say ‘No, it’s not for me, it’s for me friend’.
On Bobby’s death: “She was very down. Bobby hadn’t been dead very long and you could see she was very vulnerable. I said, ‘Why don’t we go to Barbados?’ We were on the roof in Barbados and there was this pigeon used to land on the terrace, it was a one-legged pigeon. Poor old manky old thing and she used to say ‘That’s Bobby’. I’d look at her and say ‘You what?’
“She said, ‘Bobby’s come back as that pigeon.’ I’d say ‘Ok. If you believe in an afterlife, you go to heaven or wherever… you can come back as anything you like. Do you honestly think Bobby is gonna go back as a one-legged pigeon covered in tar?’”
On their night’s out together: “She was great fun to go out with, even though I had to keep an eye on her. Things used to happen when we’d go out and I’d always get the blame. Invariably it’d be dawn breaking before we’d get in or go home.”
Jimmy Tarbuck, friend for 55 years:
“Cilla Black was a unique girl. She always wanted to be a star and loved everything that went with it. Always with her mate Pat, they were girls around Liverpool.”
 “She left us too early, much too early. I mean it was like a state funeral, it was six deep on the pavements.  Liverpool did her proud that day, as she’d done Liverpool proud.”
Ringo Starr, friend for 57 years:
“She was a really good friend, you could always call on her. We made each other laugh; we had the same sense of humour….
She was one of the people. She didn’t change her accent, didn’t put on any airs or graces.”
In archive footage, Cilla talks about Ringo, saying: “He was like my fourth brother. I used to do his mother’s hair. I ruined his mother’s hair… Elsie, dear Elsie.”
Joan Collins:
“Cilla was obviously a wonderful singer in the 60s. My then husband worked for the Beatles and so I knew about Cilla and I knew she was very close to the Beatles and she started off in the Cavern.
On Cilla’s life after Bobby: “She was looking for a boyfriend. I’d say ‘I think I might know someone’, and she’d say ‘no, I don’t really want one – I can’t forget Bobby. Sometimes I feel like I want one and sometimes I don’t.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
“She had two voices. She has this very nice, quiet, soprano-ie head voice, which she could turn into a really strong, gutsy chest voice. She was capable of mixing the two, really very cleverly.”
Nigel Lythgoe:
“She was the biggest selling girl throughout the 1960s, and that’s including Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Pet[ula] Clark, Sandi Shaw.”