Surprise Surprise

Surprise Surprise is a British light entertainment television programme for ITV that originally ran from 6 May 1984 to 26 December 2001 with Cilla Black as the host. The show returned from 21 October 2012 to 26 December 2015 and was hosted by Holly Willoughby.

The show was hosted by Cilla Black, and filmed in front of a live studio audience. Its premise involved surprising members of the public with long-held wishes, setting up tricks to fool members of the public, prank calls to people and reuniting guests with long-lost loved ones. Black was assisted for eight series by Bob Carolgees, famous for his glove puppetry act Spit the Dog, while Gordon Burns and Tessa Sanderson were roving reporters. Other featured acts were “Cilla-grams,” where Black would perform a song in a musical sketch relevant to the surprise a person was receiving. (Example: a soldier was celebrating his 21st birthday, so the featuring song Black sang was “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.)

The concept of the first series had been to film surprising and often unusual moments similar to those previously seen on Game for a Laugh, but the format was not successful. However, the final item in the last episode of the first series featured a successful surprise reunion, which led executive producer Alan Boyd to change the format slightly so that all items in subsequent series involved surprises, rather than just being surprising. Although including many pre-filmed inserts, the first series and some early episodes of the second series were televised live in their entirety, however, thereafter, all episodes were pre-recorded.

From 1984 to 1988, the show was broadcast on Sunday evenings. From 1989 to 1992, the show moved to Fridays, before returning to the Sunday evening timeslot from 1993 to 1996. The final series of the original run in 1997 was broadcast on Friday evenings.

Over the years, the show had many special guests, some of whom appeared live, including Neil Diamond. Many variety acts were also featured on the show. The Spice Girls made their live debut on an episode in 1996.

Cilla Black introduced and closed each show by singing a theme song. The theme song from series one to eight was written by Kate Robbins and was often imitated by Black impersonators, beginning “The more the world is changing, the more it stays the same…”. The track was included on Black’s 1985 album Surprisingly Cilla, and as a single through Towerbell Records. A new song was written from series nine until the show’s conclusion in 2001: “Reaching out, holding hands, reliving memories… Life is full, full of surprises…And the nicest surprise in my life is you!”

The revived series updated its theme for 2013. This theme uses a remixed instrumental version of the chorus from Black’s original song “Surprise, Surprise”.


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 6 May 1984 10 June 1984 6
2 14 October 1984 2 December 1984 8
3 19 January 1986 9 March 1986 8
4 18 January 1987 15 March 1987 9
5 10 January 1988 6 March 1988 9
6 6 January 1989 3 March 1989 9
7 16 February 1990 20 April 1990 9
8 22 February 1991 26 April 1991 10
9 3 April 1992 29 May 1992 9
10 25 April 1993 4 July 1993 10
11 10 April 1994 19 June 1994 11
12 23 April 1995 2 July 1995 10
13 31 March 1996 2 June 1996 10
14 4 July 1997 5 September 1997 10


Original Air date Special
23 December 1984 Christmas special
22 December 1985 Christmas special
28 December 1986 Christmas special
27 December 1987 Christmas special


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *