Sunday, August 02, 2015

Legendobit: Cilla Black

It's been announced this morning that Cilla Black has died. It feels weird that this time yesterday I was writing about her being on the NME cover in 1986.

She had an astonishing career - not the only person who had the good fortune to be born in Liverpool at just the right time to catch a rising tide, but with the personality to take that advantage and turn it into whatever was needed to work.

Singer; presenter; presenter who sang her own theme tune. There were many Cillas. But my Cilla - and I say this without any side - is this my Cilla, the Cilla I first encountered. Advertising Cilla:

(Actually, the one that has been banging round my head for nearly 40 years was 'I know it's not just me/ all my friends agree', but that doesn't seem to be online.)

There's not many current pop stars who could convincingly push a slightly nasty chocolate cube into a stranger's mouth and not come across as creepy; and much as I love Charli XCX, I couldn't really picture her working a sofa with Bob Carolgees on one side and a pair of twins who hadn't seen each other in twenty years on the other.

Bear Grylls might think he knows something about survival, but Cilla's career shows what survival really looks like.


Robin Carmody said...

Feels weirder still that I was commenting on that cover / interview yesterday.

Was the version you remember the one with her at a railway station? If so, it was found in the Bob Monkhouse tapes, in this case an offair recording he made of an edition of Celebrity Squares which ATV didn't keep. Indeed, she largely disappeared from the public eye while her children were young; for someone your age that would have been the first real sighting of her and, for a while, the only one.

Interesting to think of her place in the ITV Wars of the 1980s; LWT, her employers, found themselves moderately frustrated that her shows didn't do as well in London as elsewhere - it's hard to imagine things being any different when you consider that a) she came from the North (although by all accounts disliked by some and seen as a political turncoat in Liverpool itself, like Sheena Easton in Glasgow and, I believe, Ant & Dec today in Newcastle) and b) ITV generally had always done better in the North, but to some extent she was a barrier in the way of their attempts to go upmarket (back when BSB was seen as the threat and nobody saw Sky coming) who nonetheless was, obviously, far too popular even to consider removing until the world had moved on (the end of Blind Date was a sad, shrivelled affair).

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