Shirley (BBC-2 2011, Ruth Negga, Charlie Creed-Miles)

Shirley is an intimate and revealing drama that looks at the life of Dame Shirley Bassey – one of the world’s most enduring and successful divas and a national treasure.

The drama charts Bassey’s early career, from her humble roots in Wales in the Thirties to the start of her rise to international stardom in the Sixties. But this is no ordinary rags-to-riches story.

Born in Tiger Bay in Cardiff, Shirley was one of eight children from a poor mixed-race family. An audition with struggling London agent Mike Sullivan puts Shirley firmly on the path to success, as he grooms her into a solo performer fit to take on the world.

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But Shirley is hiding a secret – she’s an unmarried teenage mother. Persuaded to give her daughter, Sharon, to her elder sister to look after, Shirley works day and night to perfect her routine and complete the transformation from the poverty-stricken girl from Tiger Bay to the star she so desperately wants to become.
With a hit song soon under her belt, and a controversial marriage to her first husband Kenneth Hume, a small-time assistant film director from South London, Shirley couldn’t be happier. But beneath the wealth, diamonds and furs, her life swings between triumph and tragedy as she catches her husband with another man.

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production details
UK | BBC Two | 1×75 minutes | Broadcast Thursday 29 September 2011 at 9.00pm

Writer: Shelagh Stephenson
Director: Colin Teague

Ruth Negga as Shirley Bassey
Amira Arish as Shirley Bassey (Aged 9)
Charlie Creed-Miles as Mike Sullivan
Matthew Marsh as Jack Hylton
Jeany Spark as Juhni Sullivan
Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Kenneth Hume
Lesley Sharp as Eliza Bassey
Danny Sapani as Bobo
Babou Ceesay as Henry Bassey
Isaiah Cai Forrest as Henry Bassey Jr
Divine Faith Utonga as Sharon Bassey
Larissa Wilson as Iris Bassey
Di Botcher as Mrs Morrison
Colin Mace as Agent

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.