Entertainment & Arts

Carla Lane dies: Stars pay tribute to TV sitcom writer

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Media captionThe BBC's David Sillito looks back at Carla Lane's life

Tributes have been paid to "dynamic, beautiful" television writer Carla Lane, who has died aged 87.

The screenwriter, who created hit shows including The Liver Birds, Bread and Butterflies, passed away in a nursing home in Liverpool, her family said.

Friend and comedian Ken Dodd said she was "a lovely, lovely writer", while Jean Boht, who played Nellie Boswell in Bread, said "she loved everybody".

Lane was also hailed as a "champion of animal welfare".

Much of Lane's writing focused on women's lives and featured frustrated housewives and working class matriarchs.

'Great observer'

She first became known for The Liver Birds, a sitcom about two women who shared a flat in Liverpool, which she co-wrote with her friend Myra Taylor.

The programme aired from 1969 to 1979 and returned for a one-off series in 1996.

Your tributes: 'The world has lost an irreplaceable jewel'

She was perhaps best known for the sitcom Bread, which depicted the working class Boswell family struggling through high unemployment and poor prospects in the late 1980s Liverpool, and ran for seven series between 1986 and 1991.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Carla Lane (left) with actresses Polly James (right) and Nerys Hughes (centre) of the BBC series The Liver Birds
Image caption Lane co-wrote the series with her friend Myra Taylor (left)

Actress Jean Boht, who played Bread's matriarch Ma Boswell, said she was "dynamic, beautiful, she looked 16 all the time always and loved her animals, more than us I think, and you know she loved everybody".

'Comedy force'

Melanie Hill, who played Aveline in the series and starred in long-running school TV drama Waterloo Road, tweeted: "Very sad to hear #CarlaLane has left us. Writer and creator of many fantastic shows."

Fellow Liverpudlian Dodd said Lane was "a great observer" who absorbed the humour of the people of Liverpool.

"She was a wonderful, a true modern comedienne writer, but as well as that, you know, she left a wonderful legacy of happiness and proving that once again ladies can be just as funny as men."

Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Simon Blackwell, who has worked on series including The Thick of It, said she was "a prolific talent".

"Her masterpiece, Butterflies, unlike anything that had come before in British sitcom," he tweeted.

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Media captionNick Conway, who played Billy Boswell in the sitcom Bread, pays tribute to Carla Lane

Mark Linsey, director of BBC Studios, said: "Carla Lane was a supremely gifted writer of bitter-sweet family comedies, loved by generations.

"Her legacy is extraordinary. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time."

Comedy writer and radio DJ Danny Baker tweeted a "real comedy mind and force" had left the planet.

Lane was awarded an OBE for services to writing in 1989 but returned it to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 in disgust at animal cruelty.

In 1995, she was given a Royal Television Society award for her Outstanding Contribution to British Television.

Image caption Bread focused on the lives of the Boswell family
Image caption Lane's series Butterflies featured frustrated housewife Ria, played by Wendy Craig, here with her friend Leonard, played by Bruce Montague

In later life, she became known for looking after hundreds of rescue animals - running an animal sanctuary from her mansion in Horsted Keynes, Sussex, until 2009 - and was a close friend of Sir Paul McCartney's late wife Linda.

Speaking to the Observer in 2008 about their friendship, Lane said she and Linda were "friendship-struck from moment one" and bonded over their love of animals.

Lane also had an animal sanctuary named after her.

'Darling Carla'

Fran Ellis, founder and trustee at the Carla Lane Animals in Need Sanctuary in Melling, Merseyside, paid tribute to a "champion of animal welfare".

Lane's family confirmed she died at Stapely Care Home on Tuesday

"With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our darling Carla today," they said.

"But with smiles on our faces we also take this opportunity to reflect on her incredible achievements all of which make us so unbelievably proud to be part of her family."

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