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05-Feb-2019 23:39

In August 1967, only days before his premature death, Brian Epstein had engineered Cilla’s switch to television with her own eponymous variety show for BBC TV.

The immediate success of the ‘Cilla’ series marked the beginning of a new phase of Cilla’s professional life as she was now one of Britain’s top-rated television entertainers.

In January 1975, Cilla broke new ground starring in her first series of situation comedy plays for ATV (Associated Television). In May, Cilla’s performances in these shows earned her a “Top Female Comedy Star” award from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain.

The following year, a second series was commissioned which was a Top 3 ratings hit with British television audiences.

Cilla recalls how LWT jokingly asked her to front the programme, saying “We want you to do it because we tried to think of the most sexless person on television”.

The rest as they say is history as the show became a national institution for many millions of viewers, brightening up Saturday nights for a staggering 18 years.

One of Cilla’s earliest career highlights as a pop star was to perform in front of Queen Elizabeth II at the 1964 Royal Variety Performance.

For the opening sequence of Cilla’s performance the London Palladium’s stage curtains revealed her stepping out of a sports car In April 1966, Cilla opened in a 3-week cabaret season at London’s Savoy Hotel.

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Five years later, Liverpool’s chart-topping pop sensation, who was a regular on many of Britain’s best loved entertainment shows, was starring in ‘Cilla’ – her own prime-time variety series for BBC One.

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