Cilla Black: ‘I couldn’t be a judge on The X Factor’

Cilla Black has hinted that she would like to be made a Dame – and revealed that she turned down an offer to become a talent show judge.

The veteran TV star, 71, is back in the limelight as the subject of a new drama series starring actress Sheridan Smith as the former Blind Date host.

The ITV drama reconstructs Cilla’s life as a singer before she became a TV fixture with shows like Cilla and Surprise, Surprise.

She told Radio Times: “Today, I’d be first in the queue for The X Factor and there’s no doubt whatsoever that I’d win.

“I’ve been asked to be a judge but I couldn’t because I wouldn’t be able to tell the truth. The meanest I’d get is saying, ‘It hasn’t worked out for you this time, but go back and do your homework.’

“I couldn’t be like Simon Cowell. He’s not nasty, by the way, but tells it like it is.”

The former singer said that she would like to be made a Dame but that she had not notched up enough serious acting roles.

“You don’t become a Dame for doing what you enjoy, as I have, but if they want to give me one I wouldn’t turn it down,” she told the magazine.

Cilla told how “unknown to me, my agent turned down the part of Michael Caine’s girlfriend in The Italian Job because the fee wasn’t big enough. An iconic movie! I’d have done it for nothing.”

But she added: “Fame was my objective. I’d have been very happy on £25 a week. I didn’t know how much I earned, and when people said I was the highest-paid person on TV I wasn’t interested.”

The former TV star still has not watched a preview of the whole TV series about her life because “it’s too emotional”.

But she said of Sheridan, who wears a prosthetic denture for the role: “She’s so believable. She’s prettier than me, a better actor, obviously, and captures the essence of the young me.

“How she sang with those teeth in I’ll never know. From what I’ve seen, it (the drama) captures the colour and even the smell of the Cavern Club. It wasn’t nice – rat poison and sweat.”

Cilla, who threatened to leave husband and manager Bobby Willis if he accepted his own recording contract, said: “I can’t say I’m surprised I was successful. I was determined – and I got it … I was an absolute cow if I didn’t get my own way.

“I had a one-track mind. My career was all-important. It sounds hard, and it is, but that’s the way I was. You had to be like that in the 60s. It was me, me, me. At times I was difficult, but I got what I wanted, didn’t I? It paid off.

“It was even more ruthless and competitive in those days. I was in the business of selling records and at one time that was 100,000 a day. Now … you can become number one with a weekly total of 17,000.”

Cilla previously caused controversy when she said that she would not want to live beyond 75. She told the magazine that she had made the remark after watching her mother go downhill in her old age.

“To hear her say, ‘I’m trying to die, but can’t’ was very hard,” Cilla said. “I meant that I didn’t want to be like that, but I ain’t going nowhere. I just thank God when I wake up every day. I’m going to grow old disgracefully. It’s come full circle and is once more about me, me, me. I can do anything I want.”

On the prospect of one day remarrying, she said: “I’m a ‘never say never’ girl, but I don’t see the point when you’ve had the best.”