30 September 2011

Let's Fall in Love

Yesterday evening I sat down with my lovely mum and a snoring cat trying to push me off the sofa, to watch a drama looking into the life of the amazing with a capital A,Dame Shirley Bassey. The documentary was called you guessed it,'Shirley' and was a revealing drama into her life. I love drama's like this. It's like an acceptable way to poke into a famous person's life,without getting dirty looks from old ladies, when you are reading a trashy magazine with 'celebs worst bunions' on the front cover.

It started showing Shirley as a child and growing up in a poor household with six other children. Her father was arrested when she was at a young age, so her mother bought her and her mixed race brothers and sisters up single handledly. Shirley left school at fourteen and worked as a pub singer in her hometown Tiger Bay. We see Shirley as a very naive seventeen year old spending her earnings on chips while giving the rest to her mother,desperately wanting to be a singer. Her mother tells her to follow her dreams, so she goes to an audition after only doing a few shows and meets her soon to be manager,Mike Sullivan.The actress that played her Ruth Negga,was absolutely spellbinding.  As soon as he hears her voice,he is bowled over,like I was. Even my cat looked up.Although,my mum was quick to add 'she's not singing that' to the mix. Yes,thank you mother.
Ruth Negga as Dame Shirley
Mike says he will take a chance and take her on,but Shirley has a secret. I didn't know this about her but she had a child,Sharon at the age of sixteen. Shirley had to go through the heartache of deciding whether to follow her dreams of becoming a singer and having her sister Iris,adopt her daughter  or staying in Tiger Bay. Shirley decided to go with Mike and soon she became a star touring around Australia and eating caviar for breakfast and wearing mink coats.That's what her dream was when she was sitting on the stairs in Tiger Bay talking to her mum,to be eating caviar for breakfast.

The film follows the press finding out the truth about Sharon, her marriage and heartache with Kenneth Hume,the birth of her second child and her desperate attempt to play happy families. Shirley was turned down for a role in Oliver! due to being mixed race,despite her amazing success. The film started and ended with her talking to her mum in her dressing room, talking about how she doesn't recognise herself anymore. Over the years you see Shirley go from a naive girl to an extremely beautiful strong,independent women burning her candle at both ends (sorry but I had to include a pun somewhere)-although there are glimpses of the naive Shirley that creep in a lot. I adored the clothes that Shirley was always wearing,with tight fitting dresses that would make even the thinnest person think twice about having another biscuit. I still ended up having a few shortbread though. Ruth Negga did an amazing impersonation of Shirley with her peculiar posturing, that would have chiropractors beating down her door and she did an great job showing that Shirley's amazing array of control and happiness, was sometimes a performance covering lots of pain and vulnerability. The front that Shirley put on all the time had me screaming at the tv, saying just be yourself you silly woman! My cat wasn't too pleased,I woke him up a few times.


I was captivated by the Shirley film and it was a shame it was only seventy minutes long and only showed a glimpse of the amazing women's life. I would recommend any Shirley Bassey fans or anyone really to watch it. In fact I would actually find out where you live,come around your house and force you to put on BBC Iplayer it is that good. For us insomniacs at midnight the BBC put 'Shirley Bassey BBC at the Electric Proms' on and then 'Imagine:Shirley Bassey' an insight into her life and the making of her latest album. I do feel slightly sorry for my family though who have had to endure her songs being on repeat all day and me scarily singing 'Big Spender' at the top of my voice whilst in the bath. Sorry to you as well Shirley, I have probably ruined that song for life now.

Shirley now lives in Monte Carlo and is incredibly private. She has been through inconceivable heartache,with her young daughter Samantha dying at just twenty one and the breakdown of two marriage's. But the lady and she is a lady, has dealt with it all with incredible poise and fenece. Before watching this film I loved her songs, but I didn't know much about Shirley Bassey. Apart from that she was behind one of the biggest hints to men ever known, 'Diamonds Are Forever' with the lyrics 'They are all I need to please me.' If that isn't a big enough hint,then I don't know what is.

If you want to watch 'Shirley' you can find it here:Shirley
You can find Shirley Bassey at the Electric Proms here:Shirley Bassey Electric Proms 2009
You can find the Imagine documentary here:Imagine:Dame Shirley Bassey:The Girl from Tiger Bay

I urge all of you to watch these films or at least listen to Dame Shirley on Youtube and I'm sure like me you will spend the rest of your days in awe of the woman. Obviously no one on this earth can sing the songs as well as Dame Shirley,but here Nan from Catherine Tate singing 'I am What I am' makes a tremendous effort at it. Well, its a lot better then I could do.

Second Hand Rose
XxxX

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