The son of Cilla Black has said the late star would be thrilled with her life story being turned into a musical and that he is working on the production partly for “selfish” reasons, because he misses her.
Cilla died of a stroke in August 2015 after falling and hitting her head at her Spanish villa at the age of 72.
In 2014, the former Blind Date host’s early days in the pop industry hit the small screen in ITV miniseries Cilla with Sheridan Smith in the leading role, and it was the popularity of the programme that set the wheels in motion for a musical.
Robert, the eldest of Cilla’s three sons, appeared on ITV’s This Morning to announce a casting call for the musical production.
He said his mother would have been happy with the production, and that she would have loved the recently erected statue in her honour in her home city of Liverpool.
He said: “She would have loved it and it would have meant a lot to her.
“She loved the drama (programme), she would have people coming up to her saying, ‘I love your drama’, and she’d say, ‘well it’s not my drama, it’s Sheridan’s’.
“But she was thrilled that people appreciated her as a pop singer and what that drama did, which was a little bit inconceivable beforehand, is that it repositioned her as a pop singer and that’s what she always wanted.
“She was very committed to TV and that was a huge part of her career but in her heart of hearts she was very youthful, and in her mind she was always a pop singer.
“It was wonderful that drama helped to do that for her.”
Robert told hosts Holly Willoughby and Ore Oduba that while his mother was initially “reticent” over the TV drama, she fell in love with it when she read the script, and that it was her approval of the programme that prompted him to work on the musical.
He said: “We had started this journey with her, and because everything changed after she died and it was about a year after I had a sit down with (the show’s writer) Jeff Pope and Laurie (Mansfield, Black’s manager) and Bill (Kenwright, the show’s producer) and we had to make the decision, do we go on with this or do we just not do it?
“For a number of reasons (we did), partly because the script is so good, partly because she wanted it to happen.
“And I guess, for me, maybe it’s selfish, but I miss her. This kind of connects me to her.
“We all want to do it for her.”
Cilla – The Musical will tour the UK and kicks off in Liverpool on September 7, although the leading role has yet to be cast.
Robert said: “We’re holding a series of open auditions, obviously in Liverpool but around the whole country to find our Cilla.
“She’s out there, so we’ve got to find her.”