Music

Cilla Black’s ‘unfortunate song choice’ for performance in front of Queen

Cilla Black discusses performing for the Queen in 1970

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Tonight Channel 5’s feature length documentary The Unforgettable Cilla Black will be aired at 10pm. The programme will tell the story of Cilla’s rise from a working-class background to becoming one of the nations most successful singers of the British Invasion — a phenomenon when UK music appeared to invade the US in the Sixties. It sees rare and never-before-witnessed archive footage and interviews with Cilla’s friends and contemporaries attempt to uncover what the singer was like outside the spotlight.

The documentary includes contributions from a range of stars including Gloria Hunniford, Christopher Biggins and Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

Cilla began her career as a singer, having been championed by her friends the Beatles, and scored two number one hits with ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and ‘You’re My World’ in 1964.

In the following seven years, the Liverpool-born star had 11 top 10 UK singles while an additional eight made the UK top 40.

In 1970, at the height of her success Cilla performed in front of the Queen.

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The meeting was historic: Cilla was at the time heavily pregnant with her son Robert, and so became the first-known pregnant woman to be presented to Her Majesty.

But, while recalling the historic moment, Cilla also revealed that she had picked an “unfortunate” song to sing for the Queen.

In archive footage from ITV documentary Cilla: The Lost Tapes, the late singer said: “I made a bit of history as the Queen never knowingly up until then had been presented to a pregnant woman. 

“I was almost dropping so they had to ask permission from the palace and it was an unfortunate song choice as it was ‘Oh Pleasure Man, You’ve Done It Again’”.

As the song’s title suggests, ‘Oh Pleasure Man, You’ve Done It Again’, charts the tempestuous relationship between a man and a woman, and her eventual success in escaping him — despite the pleasure she derives from their relationship. 

In the Seventies pregnancy discrimination was frequent and women who were expecting a child were sometimes even sacked for being pregnant.

Later in the ITV documentary Cilla discussed her relationship with Beatles star Ringo Starr.

The musician is even heard revealing that the legendary drummer once asked her to marry him. 

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She said: “He was desperate because the other Beatles had girlfriends. 

“So, I called his bluff and said if he posted the [wedding] bands in 48 hours I’d do it.”

The Beatles played a significant role in Cilla’s rise, and her manager, Brian Epstein, was the man responsible for discovering the Fab Four in 1961.

Actor Andrew Lancel, who played Brian in West End show The Man Who Made The Beatles previously told the Sunday Post: “We’re all familiar with Cilla the star, the national treasure, and this show shows how he put her on course to become that. 

“She was already making a name for herself but [Brian] opened doors to her, breaking her in the States and introducing her to The Beatles. 

“Paul McCartney wrote the theme song for her TV show. 

“Brian was particularly close to John Lennon and it was he ‒ and his fierce Aunt Mimi who told Lennon to introduce Cilla to Brian ‒ who persuaded Epstein to give Cilla an audition. 

“In fact, he persuaded him to give her a second chance because the first didn’t go so well.”

He added: “Brian was the man who made the TV deal that set her on the road to becoming the British institution who presented Blind Date, Surprise Surprise and everything.”

Watch The Unforgettable Cilla Black on Channel 5 at 10pm.

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