Entertainment & Arts

Television sitcom writer Carla Lane dies, aged 87

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

Television writer Carla Lane, who created shows including 1980s Liverpool sitcom Bread, has died aged 87.

Lane, who was born in Liverpool and later became known for her animal rights activism, also wrote Butterflies and co-wrote The Liver Birds.

She died at Stapely Care Home on Tuesday, her family confirmed.

They paid tribute to her "quick wit, determination and passion" which "brought Liverpool to life on screen for others to share".

The family said: "With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our darling Carla today.

"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."

Image caption Lane first became known for co-creating and writing The Liver Birds

Lane first became known for The Liver Birds, a sitcom which focused on the lives of two women who shared a flat together in Liverpool, co-writing and creating the programme with her friend and fellow Liverpudlian Myra Taylor.

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

Her next sitcom, Butterflies, which aired from 1978 to 1983, focused on the lives of the Parkinson family and helped launch the career of actor Nicholas Lyndhurst.

Lane then created and wrote Bread, which focused on the working class Boswell family as they struggled through the city's high unemployment and poor prospects in the late 1980s. It aired for seven series between 1986 and 1991.

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

She received 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, Lane 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

Lane later 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 had a lot of good friends, but we were friendship-struck from moment one.

"We used to sit on the lawn with our two puppies, kicking leaves, and looking at them. We were like two scientists trying to find out why people don't like animals, and what we'd do to them, if we only could."

Lane also had an animal sanctuary named after her.

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

"We changed the name of our charity to recognise the work done by this special lady. Her name will live on in all we do," she said.

BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba said Lane was someone that "understood people and that's why she was able to write them so well... there was a real degree of honesty".

Tributes have been paid to the comedy writer on Twitter.

Actress Melanie Hill, who played Aveline in Bread 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 @BBCOne #bread #Aveline."

Piers Morgan tweeted: "RIP Carla Lane, who made us all laugh."

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