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Watch: Surprise, surprise! When Cilla Black came to Holyhead

16 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Cilla Black and South Stack, which features in her feature for ‘Hooray for Holyhead’

Stephen Price

One of the most surprising viral trends of recent years has to be the re-emergence of Cilla Black in the public consciousness – all thanks to the wonders of TikTok.

And surprisingly, Cilla’s viral ‘Surprise Surprise’ TikToks have made it around the world, finding one of UK television’s most cherished faces of times-gone-by a new legion of fans and, it must be said, a new generation of those who aren’t quite so enamoured with her vocal prowess.

With Cilla’s newfound social media fame has come with it an unearthing of some of her forgotten TV moments – and none so heartwarming as one that was recently added to a Facebook group called ‘The Way I See Liverpool.”

In the full video, which can be found on YouTube, we meet a lady called Betty who was born in Holyhead but hadn’t been back there for more than 50 years.

Betty is treated to Cilla’s enduring “Surprise, Surprise!” catchphrase early in the feature, before she is told that she is being taken on a trip back to her hometown of Holyhead.

Cilla tells Betty to ‘get packing,’ as she is set to realise one of her lifelong dreams which was to launch a lifeboat.

And when it comes to the weather here in Wales, it seems nothing ever changes. To ward off the cold, Cilla asks Betty if she’s “got any thermal passion killers?”

Hooray for Holyhead

During the TV special, Cilla meets the Mayor and Mayoress of Holyhead, before introducing Jeff Evans who wrote to her to invite her along for the feature.

Alluding to bad press the town had had that year, Cilla says: ‘Although it might be a depressed area, the people don’t live a depressed life.”

Jeff agrees, saying: “The people in this town are the most magnificent people you’ll ever meet – and I think you’ll find the same,” before Cilla bursts into a song called “Hooray for Holyhead.”

While Cilla sings, viewers see Betty launch the lifeboat and the folk of Holyhead getting into the spirit, showcasing some of the area’s most iconic locations including South Stack lighthouse.

South Stack steps and lighthouse. Photo: Catherine Duigan

One social media commenter wrote: “A classic moment from my childhood. It was a the year Holyhead was voted the most depressed town in the UK so Cilla came to make us all feel jolly. It was ace!”

Not everyone was quite taken with the re-emergence of the video online, however, with another Facebook user writing: “I live in Holyhead. We do not speak of this here. Ever.”

While another added: “Voice like a fire in a pet shop.”

The full video can also be found on YouTube below.

Cilla Black, who passed away in 2015, was a mainstay on UK television and radio for decades – fronting a number of successful TV shows including Surprise Surprise and Blind Date.

While many poke fun at Cilla’s voice, she had legions of faithful fans who warmed to her warm, self-deprecating humour, and many still who enjoyed it enough to make her one of the most successful recording artists of the 1960s.

Championed by her friends the Beatles, Black began her career as a singer in 1963. Her singles “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World” both reached number one in the UK in 1964. She had 11 top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart between then and 1971 and an additional eight hits that made the top 40.

And who could knock anyone who champions Wales in the face of negative press.

In the words of Cilla herself: “From majorettes to sea cadets – don’t go to Benidorm come here instead.”

“Come on forget your woes, go tapping all your toes – hooray for Holyhead!”

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