Shirley Bassey: she’s made of velvet and steel and she can belt out a tune with such ferocity she could stop a train. Saucer-eyed Ruth Negga is sensational as Bassey in an otherwise workmanlike biopic. She has all her sweeping, grandiloquent mannerisms
and that rolling, Cardiff-by-way-of-Las-Vegas accent.

Shirley dramatises Bassey’s very early career, singing for a few bob in pubs and clubs near her home in Splott. There were grim years; desperate poverty as one of eight children; pregnant at 16 (the child was raised by Bassey’s sister) and later a doomed marriage to a gay man.

Negga never lets the melodrama overwhelm her as Bassey powerhouses her way to success: imperious, childish and demanding, then the next moment in pieces as her daughter calls her “Aunty Shirley.”


Biopic of Shirley Bassey, charting the singer's early career, from her humble roots in 1930s Wales - where she was born the youngest of eight children to a mixed-race couple - to the start of her rise to international stardom in the 1960s. Shirley dreams of success when a London agent plucks her from singing in the clubs and grooms her into a solo performer fit to take on the world. But the future star is hiding the fact that she is an unmarried teenage mother, and reluctantly hands her daughter over to her elder sister while she works night and day to achieve her dream. Ruth Negga (Misfits) stars, with Lesley Sharp, Charlie Creed-Miles and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

Cast & Crew

Shirley Bassey Ruth Negga
Mike Sullivan Charlie Creed-Miles
Eliza Bassey Lesley Sharp
Kenneth Hume Henry Lloyd-Hughes
Iris Bassey Larissa Wilson
Henry Bassey Babou Cessay
Bobo Danny Sapani
Juhni Sullivan Jeany Spark
Margaret Savannah Read
Tony Joe Hurst
Frenchie Johann Myers
Neighbour Victoria Pugh
Policeman Jack Llewellyn
Agent Colin Mace
Chauffeur John Geraint Todd
Jack Hylton Matthew Marsh
Mrs Morrison Di Botcher
Shirley Bassey (aged 9) Amira Arish
Compere Jonathan Rhodes
Girl Lucy Edwards
Director Colin Teague
Executive Producer Charles Thompson
Producer Kath Lannon
Writer Shelagh Stephenson
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