Cilla, episode 3, ITV - review: Ed Stoppard steals limelight as Beatles manager Brian Epstein

A poignant ending to a mini-series that served as a tribute to the Liverpudlian songstress and the man who discovered her  

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

It could have been another happy-go-lucky hour celebrating Cilla Black. Instead, this week cleverly wrapped up the series with a change in tone as the singer’s career took a downturn.

Up until now, viewers have only seen the scouse chanteuse at her most naïve but finally we saw the diva emerge.

She failed to break America and was a complete brat in the process – especially to the unwaveringly loyal Bobby.

That man had to put up with a lot. Cilla even poured scorn over a Sunday roast he had lovingly prepared for her before he flung it out of a window in New York.

It was a smart move to present a less likeable side to Cilla to prevent the show from becoming a trite and fawning tribute to the shy Scotty Road lass.

But it was Ed Stoppard who really took centre stage this week in his portrayal of the tortured Brian Epstein, giving a stirring performance as Cilla and The Beatles’ manager.


Epstein’s subplot was slowly building up in the background before he stepped to the fore and his tragic death left a bitter-sweet taste.

Sadly, only one month after Epstein’s death homosexuality was decriminialised in Britain.  

Cilla is just as much as a tribute to the Liverpool songbird as it is to the man who brought her and the Beatles – along with many others musicians - to fame.

Epstein could have become a footnote in history but this mini-series has ensured his key role will not be forgotten.

The makers captured the vibrancy of the decade and the heady atmosphere of the Merseybeats scene. Audience were fully immersed and invested in the characters – even if Aneurin Barnard’s blonde wig did look a bit dodgy.

Most importantly though, Sheridan Smith has wowed throughout and it comes as no surprise that Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had A Heart re-entered the top 40 last week. It’s only a matter of time before Hollywood cottons on.