AND THERE’S MOORE…
By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media
The incredible outpouring of grief following the death of Cilla Black wouldn’t have been greater if it had been a member of the royal family who had passed away.
The demise of our Cilla at her home on the Costa del Sol even pushed the Calais migrant crisis off the top of news bulletins and front pages – and must have been a godsend for news editors on a slow news Sunday.
It was interesting to see how the story developed – from a simple Spanish police report about the death of ‘British national Priscilla White, aged 72’ that surfaced on Sunday lunchtime to umpteen pages in all of Monday’s red tops and blanket TV coverage.
A couple of ‘rent a quotes’ were quickly established before the likes of Bruce Forsyth were contacted – then the news organisations quickly found themselves overwhelmed with tributes from the likes of Gloria Hunniford, Lionel Blair, Barbara Windsor, Ringo Starr, Des O’Connor and Sir Cliff Richard before the holy grail of Liverpudlian tributes was achieved from Sir Paul McCartney.
For once, unlike the ‘professional’ tributes, darling, on the death of a celebrity, they all seemed pretty genuine and heartfelt – perhaps because Cilla’s 50-year showbiz career saw her rise from humble hatcheck girl origins to become the Queen of cheesy Saturday TV, remaining one of the people (as far as one could see from afar).
She did, of course, have the patronage of The Beatles, the management of Brian Epstein and the reliable support of loyal husband Bobby Willis to make absolutely the best of her singing talents, but her TV career surely was down to her infectious personality.
Once the initial story of her death had calmed slightly, those reporters despatched to stand outside her Estepona house were finding more than just the neighbour prepared to say what a lorra laughs it had been living next door to Cilla.
More stories emerged about her arthritis, her deafness, that she was going blind, that she wanted to be reunited with Bobby – whose death from cancer in 1999 from which she never really recovered – and, according to one ‘childhood friend’ that she was willing herself to die.
It is inevitable, given that she was once the highest-paid woman on British TV, had 19 top 40 hits and will be forever associated with the Swinging Sixties and the Fab Four, that interest will go on. And on.
And the coverage will be lapped up – or the tabloids will have judged it pretty badly and they rarely do – until beyond her funeral and subsequent memorial service.
But we won’t be sure it is a ‘big’ story until one of those people with too much time on their hands than is safe has complained to the Samira Ahmed-fronted BBC’s Newswatch programme that far too much airtime was devoted to Cilla’s death and shouldn’t the Corporation be concentrating on ‘real’ news instead.
As someone who regularly and pointlessly shouts abuse at the television when these pompous idiots claim their 15 seconds of unwarranted fame to spout their ridiculous theories, I am longing for that moment.
Cilla was big news. Fact.