Sheridan Smith cast as Cilla Black in new ITV drama

The English actress will play the singer in a three-part series about her life

Sheridan Smith has landed the lead role in a new three-part drama based on the life of Cilla Black.

The English actress, 32, will play the Liverpudlian singer in Cilla, written by Jeff Pope. Pope, who is head of factual drama at ITV, won the Best Adapted Screenplay award at Sunday night’s Baftas for his work with Steve Coogan on Philomena.

Smith won the Leading Actress award at the 2013 ceremony for her performance as Ronnie Biggs’ wife Charmian in Mrs Biggs.

Her newest project will chart Black’s rise to chart-topping fame in the early 1960s, when she first hit number one with “Anyone Who Had a Heart”.

Black, now 70, worked as a typist during the day and performed in Liverpool jazz venues at night. She was friends with The Beatles and shared their legendary manager Brian Epstein.

ITV has said that the show will explore Black’s relationships with “the two men who came to love her and ultimately fought over her” – Epstein and her future husband Bobby Willis.

At the time of meeting Black – real name Priscilla White – Epstein was struggling to accept his homosexuality as being gay was illegal in Britain.

Smith told Radio Times that she wanted to show younger viewers, some of whom know Black only for her presenting slot on Nineties series Blind Date, “what a star Cilla has always been”.

The actress recently starred in David Nicholls' BBC romance The 7.39, alongside David Morrissey and Olivia Colman.

Filming for Cilla is due to begin in Liverpool next month with Mrs Biggs director Paul Whittington at the helm.