Sheridan Smith will take the lead role in a new three-part drama for ITV about Liverpudlian singer and entertainer Cilla Black.

ITV Studios’ Cilla has been written by Jeff Pope, who last night won a Bafta with Steve Coogan for his screenplay for Philomena.

Sheridan Smith will play Cilla

Sheridan Smith will play Cilla

It will cover Black’s rise to fame in 1960s Liverpool, her friendship with the Beatles, her on-off relationship with future husband Bobby Willis and the role played by legendary manager Brian Epstein in launching her career.

Smith, who has recently been seen in BBC drama The 7.39 and Channel 4 series Dates, said: “I am thrilled to be playing Cilla, as she is a British icon. In the 60s, as a young girl from Liverpool, she had numerous number ones and sang with The Beatles, her life story is fascinating.”

Cilla was commissioned by ITV’s director of drama Steve November and controller of drama Victoria Fea.

“Jeff’s scripts offer an extraordinary insight into Cilla’s humble beginnings and meteoric rise to chart success,” said November.

“He captures Liverpool life back in the 60s through her eyes and it’s fascinating to think of her hanging out back stage at the Cavern Club with The Beatles.”

Alongside executive producer Pope (Lucan, Philomena, Mrs Biggs), the drama will be produced by Kwadjo Dajan (Mrs Biggs, Appropriate Adult – as Development Producer, The Widower) with Paul Whittington (The Widower, Mrs Biggs, Vera, DCI Banks) directing.

Filming begins in Liverpool next month.