Surprise! Surprise! returns to ITV without Cilla Black

As reported at the start of February, former ITV series Surprise! Surprise! is to return to the broadcaster later this year in what they have described as ‘a one-off special.’

Following a number of classic television revivals in recent times ITV has confirmed that This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby is to front the old favourite which ran from 1984 until 2001.

The dreams come true series was originally fronted by sixties singer Cilla Black with the show mixing family reunions with making wishes come true for those who deserved some form of celebration. The notorious ‘Cilla Gram’ provided amusement as Black turned up unexpected to ‘Surprise! Surprise!’ the public.

The original series, produced by LWT, ran on ITV from 1984 until 1997 before being axed by the network due to ‘declining ratings’. The programme proved to be a stable regular ratings winner on Sunday evenings, but when it was switched to Friday nights its glory slipped away.

It plodded on as an annual special until 2001, usually airing at Easter or Christmas. Co-hosts included Christopher Biggins, Gordon Burns and Bob Carolgees. A 20th anniversary special recorded in 2003 for broadcast in 2004 was never aired when Cilla senationally quit ITV live on air during a 2003 live edition of her love match game show Blind Date.

Willoughby, told This Morning viewers yesterday, “We haven’t discussed whether I’m going to sing at the top of the show like Cilla used to yet.” But added, “I think I can do it.”

The series had two theme tunes across its run, the first the most famous ‘Surprise Surprise’ with the bizarre lyrics ‘Surprise surprise, the unexpected hits you between the eyes…” The original music was written by Kate Robbins and was replaced in the early 1990s with the much more fitting ‘Life Is Full Of Surprises’. “Reaching out, holding hands, reliving memories… Life is full, full of surprises…And the nicest surprise in my life is you!” by Ray Monk.

The series will be revamped for a one off special to be produced by ITV Studios, owners of the LWT programme archive, with the view that if the show proves a ratings hit a longer run may follow.

Previous revivals by ITV after many years off-air include Play Your Cards Right – which is rumoured to be set for yet another revival, The Price Is Right, Crossroads, Mr and Mrs and Family Fortunes.

Other old ITV favourites have also seen semi-successful revivals on other networks, Upstairs Downstairs returned, this time on the BBC, Bullseye made a comeback on Challenge and currently Blockbusters is scheduled for a new series on the game show network.

Cilla Black quit ITV in 2003 when she announced on live television she would be giving up the role of hostess on love-match game show Blind Date, which she had fronted since 1985. She has since returned to the channel as a semi-regular panelist on daytime debate show Loose Women. Black, from Liverpool, became an international super star in the sixties initially as a pop singer with hits such as You’re My World, Anyone Who Had a Heart and Alfie. She was lured into television in the late 1960s hosting her own BBC series, and later, programming for ATV.

Holly Willoughby has been announced as the new presenter of Surprise Surprise.

Holly Willoughby on the set of Surprise Surprise.

A 1980s London Weekend Television ‘Coming Next’ promotion for Surprise Surprise.

Cilla prepares to unleash another surprise on an audience member.

One comment

  • SURPRISE SURPRISE yes i am this is ITV at its worst churning out shows that died because they were tired and boring if CILLA BLACK is not hosting it dont bother just leave it in peace as the rubbish ITV churn out is a disgrace get ATV to bring back some old classics and bring back quality entertainment like LEW GRADE always knew would work.