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Shirley (2011)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama  -  29 September 2011 (UK)
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In 1938 mixed race baby Shirley Bassey,her mother and eight siblings are living in a poor area of Cardiff after her father is imprisoned for sexual offences. The teen-aged Shirley will help... See full summary »


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Title: Shirley (TV Movie 2011)

Shirley (TV Movie 2011) on IMDb 6.6/10

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eliza Bassey
Henry Bassey
Victoria Pugh ...
Issiah Cai Forest ...
Henry Bassey Jnr
Larissa Wilson ...
Iris Bassey
Jack Llewellyn ...
Amira Arish ...
Mike Sullivan
Colin Mace ...
Juhni Sullivan
Mrs. Morrison
Kenneth Hume


In 1938 mixed race baby Shirley Bassey,her mother and eight siblings are living in a poor area of Cardiff after her father is imprisoned for sexual offences. The teen-aged Shirley will help the family finances bringing her big,impassioned singing voice to local clubs and,in 1954,aged seventeen,she moves to London,impressing agent Mike Sullivan. To further her career however she must give up her illegitimate daughter Sharon to be raised as her own child by Shirley's sister Iris. After winning over the famously hostile Glasgow Empire audience Shirley has arrived. Impresario Jack Hylton stars her in the West End and she has hit records. She rides out gutter press interest in Sharon and,after a row with Mike,takes fledgling film producer Kenneth Hume as her agent and husband. Not only does he fail to further her career but turns out to be a homosexual. Yet Shirley is a born survivor,weathering her divorce from Ken in 1965 and,decades later,still every inch a star,belting out the ... Written by don @ minifie-1

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Biography | Drama





Release Date:

29 September 2011 (UK)  »

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Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 26 September 2011 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Great cast in a decent BBC drama
6 October 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

My point of interest with seeing Shirley was the subject itself, the great Shirley Bassey. This BBC drama is good, lifted by the cast, but considering how great a singer Bassey is and the cast itself part of me thought it could have been better.

The flaws with Shirley aren't apparent all the time, but when they are there they're quite glaring. Most of the drama is well-paced, compelling and fascinatingly written, not to mention moving. However some moments drag a tad, are a little clichéd in some of the situations and characters(like the scene where Mike Sullivan hears a teenage Bassey for the first time) and suffer from moments of stilted writing.

Shirley however is beautifully photographed and the attention to detail shows a lot of care and love. The soundtrack is wonderful, with the mix of Bassey's best tunes and intimate and expansive incidental music, but part of me wanted more of it. Colin Teague directs thoughtfully.

The cast are the main draw, with Lesley Sharp in fine form as Bassey's mother and Charlie Creed-Miles as Sullivan faring best in support. Ruth Negga however is astonishing, the lip-synching is not quite perfect but better than expected, however not only does Negga do a fine job with Shirley Bassey's on-stage manner and persona, but she really shines in the quieter and more introspective moments too. The sad-eyed desolation when her daughter sings her Happy Birthday is proof of this.

Overall, could've been better, but Negga, soundtrack and support cast lift it. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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