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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 ... See full summary »


Colin Teague
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ruth Negga ... Shirley Bassey
Lesley Sharp ... Eliza Bassey
Babou Ceesay ... Henry Bassey
Victoria Pugh Victoria Pugh ... Neighbour
Issiah Cai Forest Issiah Cai Forest ... Henry Bassey Jnr
Larissa Wilson ... Iris Bassey
Jack Llewellyn Jack Llewellyn ... Policeman
Amira Arish Amira Arish ... Shirley Bassey (Aged 9)
Danny Sapani ... Bobo
Charlie Creed-Miles ... Mike Sullivan
Colin Mace ... Agent
Jeany Spark ... Juhni Sullivan
Matthew Marsh ... Jack Hylton
Di Botcher ... Mrs. Morrison
Henry Lloyd-Hughes ... 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 he 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 ... Written by don @ minifie-1

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Biography | Drama

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

29 September 2011 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Prospect Cymru See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Lesley sharp had to wear brown contact lenses for her role. See more »


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


Burn My Candle
Written by Ross Parker
Performed by Ruth Negga (?)
See more »

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User Reviews

Living the diva loca
5 October 2011 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

I'm no fan of divas and their, to borrow a phrase "tantrums and tiaras" lifestyles plus the music of Shirley Bassey means absolutely nothing to me, but this dramatisation of her early career and breakthrough caught my interest although I'll admit it struggled to hold it. Initially held back by stilted dialogue and clichéd situations, it doesn't improve much afterwards and before long the future same is talking about herself in the third person. We're meant to feel sorry for Bassey as she chases the big-time leaving her infant daughter in the care of her similarly-minded mother and her sister who improbable as it seems soon teach the little girl to call her mother "auntie", while Shirley brings home the bacon financially. Then there are the star's relationships with men which are fairly ill-starred too, taking in her cheapskate manager and homosexual first husband but the problem with the production is that it's all crammed into one hour, giving the characters outside Ruth Negga's Bassey little time to develop. In the title role Negga manages the Welsh accent well, boyo, but struggles to lip-synch the singing. I wouldn't have thought it difficult to act spoilt but I was reasonably convinced that I was watching the young Bassey The support acting was competent, nothing more in fact the whole production struggled to really engage the viewer and in trying to find a hook overplays the race card throughout. At the end I knew a few more facts about Bassey's background but next to nothing about her personal make-up and was rarely gripped by a story that I wondered needed to be told at all.

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