Bread (TV series)

Bread (TV series)

Infobox British television
show_name = Bread

caption =
format = Comedy
camera = Multi-camera
runtime = 30 minutes
creator = Carla Lane
starring = Jean Boht
Peter Howitt
Nick Conway
opentheme = David Mackay
country = United Kingdom, flagicon|United Kingdom
network = BBC One
first_aired = 1 May 1986
last_aired =
3 November 1991
num_series = 7
num_episodes = 74 |

"Bread" was a British television sitcom, written by Carla Lane, produced by the BBC and screened on BBC1 from 1 May 1986 to 3 November 1991.

The series focused on the staunchly-Catholic and extended Boswell family of Liverpool, in the district of Dingle, led by its matriarch Nellie (Jean Boht) through a number of ups and downs as they tried to make their way through life in Thatcher's Britain with no visible means of support. The street shown at the start of each programme is Elswick Street.

Nellie's feckless and estranged husband, Freddie (Ronald Forfar), left her for another woman known as 'Lilo Lil' (Eileen Pollock). Her children—in age order—Joey, Jack, Adrian, Aveline and Billy continued to live in the family home in Kelsall Street and contributed money to the central family fund, largely through benefit fraud and the sale of stolen goods.


*Joey (Peter Howitt until series 5; Graham Bickley up to series 7) was the eldest and wisest of the offspring, dressed in smart leather clothing, using the earliest (that is, "enormous") mobile phone and driving a classic Jaguar, despite having no obvious source of income. He contributed large sums to the family kitty and was often his mother's spokesman. He had an on-off relationship with a girl called Roxy (played by Joanna Phillips-Lane and of whom his mother disapproved because she had a child and had broken his heart before) and preferred to acknowledge people with the word "Greetings".

*Jack (Victor McGuire) was arguably the hardest-working and most likable of the five, with no wild aspirations to have a glamorous job but just to make a reasonable living. His main source of income was as a dealer in anything that would fit into the battered van he drove. He left the family home to visit the USA in series 4 (which covered McGuire's decision to take a break from the show) and came back wiser but still not rich. He had little luck with women until the elder Leonora Campbell (Deborah Grant) moved in further down Kelsall Street and the two had a relationship, which his mother naturally disapproved of due to the age gap.

*Adrian (Jonathon Morris)—a character who was baptised James and called Jimmy as a child but decided the name was too common and changed it—was the artistic and idealistic one of the quintet and continually pointed out that he was the only one with a proper, honest, job (in an estate agency). He became a published poet and artist and also worked as a model, but his successes were tempered by an extraordinary inferiority complex, especially around women. He had a relationship with a nymphomaniac called Carmen who broke his heart. He frequently emphasised his panicky outlook on life with the phrase "Hanging by a thread!". Eventually, he found happiness with a woman called Irenee (Sharon Byatt).

*Aveline (Gilly Coman until series 5; Melanie Hill up to series 7) was the only daughter and was therefore protected hugely by her mother and brothers, to the extent of vetting boyfriends and wearing a whistle round her neck at all times in case of attack. She had aspirations to be a model, which were partly achieved, but she temporarily gave up her ambitions when she met, fell in love with and married Oswald (Giles Watling), a local Protestant vicar, which brought out her mother's religious prejudices, although her brothers liked him.

*Billy (Nick Conway) was the youngest and daftest of the quintet, who worked in a variety of jobs, including running his own sandwich-delivery business. Despite his youth and immaturity, he was the first Boswell to marry, leave home and have a child, thanks to a fiery, on-off relationship with the astute and cynical Julie (Caroline Milmoe until series 2; Hilary Crowson thereafter) who lived across the road. Billy moved in with Julie and they had a daughter, Francesca, but found it tough to escape his mother's apron strings, due to the distance, and Julie regularly kicked him out. Billy drove a Volkswagen Beetle which frequently emitted loud bangs from the exhaust system.

*Nellie and her children all took it in turns to visit and deliver meals to Grandad (Kenneth Waller) who lived next door in the house that used to belong to the Boswells. Grandad and the Boswells swapped houses so each could charge the other rent and then claim it back from the DHSS. It was never made clear who's father he actually was; even Nellie and Freddy called him Grandad. He was referred to by non-family members as Mr Boswell, therefore it could be assumed he was Freddie's father. However, in an episode from series 3, Grandad's name is revealed as William Thomas Duvall.

After the death of Freddie's brother Cyril, in series 1, Joey reveals that Grandad was fond of him "even though he doesn't usually get on with Dad's side of the family". Also, Nellie once refers to Freddy as Grandad's only Son-in-Law, which would mean that Grandad was in fact slug's father and, in the companion book to the series, "Mrs Boswell's Slice of Bread", her maiden name is confirmed as Duvall and she refers to Grandad as 'my father'. He was a cantankerous and obnoxious man at times, never appearing grateful for the way the family kept him, but they all doted on him and he was always willing to hand out serious advice. His wife, referred to by everyone as Granny, had long since died and Grandad mourned her although he had always reserved love for another woman (the never-seen Edie Mathieson) and told the family so.

*Freddie's girlfriend, Lilo Lil, was an Irish woman of a similar age to the Boswell parents, but with a more flamboyant dress sense and a self-confessed desire for passion in her relationships, which she claimed in her frequent confrontations with Nellie (who called her a "tart" to her face, and to others) was the main reason why Freddie preferred her. That said, Freddy—who swept roads for a living—often tried to get back with his wife before finding Lilo Lil too tempting. She was often heard to scream, publicly: "I love you Freddy Boswell."

*Derek (Peter Byrne) was a widower who befriended Nellie when he met her in a park and tried, unsuccessfully, to forge a relationship with her (in a parallel with the Ria/Leonard dilemma depicted in another Carla Lane sitcom, "Butterflies"). Nellie was tempted by him but couldn't bring herself to have another relationship while she was still technically married. If he called her and she was in company (she told no-one of his existence) she would say "Thank you!" in a comedically high-pitched voice and hang up.

*Two local businessmen and small-time thugs and crooks were the monosyllabic Yizzel (Charles Lawson) and his partner who, despite being the brains and voice of the duo, was never named in dialogue and was therefore always credited as 'Yizzel's mate' (Simon Rouse). They ran a limousine company called "Occasion Cars" and were acquaintances of Joey.

*Father Dooley (J. G. Devlin) was the local Catholic priest to whom Nellie—and, less regularly, other family members—would go to seek advice or confess.

*The family had a dog called Mongy, a shortening of mongrel. He was only seen in outdoor scenes shot on location, never in studio scenes. He met his end when a storyline required him to be run over and killed and the Boswells were united in grief.

*In series 4, cousin Shifty (a nickname derived from his nature and played by Bryan Murray) turned up after leaving prison and moved into Grandad's house while occupying Jack's seat at mealtimes. Initially this was to compensate for the absence of Jack, but the character stuck around after Jack's return. He was Grandad's favourite grandchild, despite being a career criminal (less subtly than the others) and combined dead end jobs and failed business interests (including running a mobile greengrocery from the back of a hearse) with more petty crime. His ex-girlfriend Celia (Rita Tushingham) turned up briefly, before he began a relationship with the Boswell nemesis, DSS (then DHSS) clerk Martina (Pamela Power), who had spent previous series fending off the begging and sweet-talking attempted by various Boswell members to get more financial aid from the Government. This relationship with Shifty allowed Martina, a popular character, to be seen beyond her working environment.

Other elements

The show's title is a reference to the use of 'bread' as a slang term for money. A regular scenario in each episode was that of Nellie opening a cockerel-fashioned kitchen storage pot prior to the evening meal, into which the family would place money for their upkeep. The amount of money placed in the pot by each depended on how successful a day they'd had. The pot would be at the forefront of the screen at the end of each episode as the credits rolled.

Other frequently-seen scenarios included Nellie answering a cordless phone (a newfangled item in the mid-1980s) which she kept in the pocket of her pinny (she always said "Hello yes?" when answering); and the parking places outside the terraced house for the family's many vehicles being kept free by some illicitly-acquired police traffic cones, normally used by police to keep road-sides free of stationary traffic.

One of the main reasons for the show's success was its use of soap opera-style cliffhangers. This meant that viewers had to tune in each week to see how the previous week's cliffhanger would be resolved. This also meant that each episode was not self-contained, but the plot unfolded as the series progressed. This was very unusual for a comedy at the time, but has been used to great effect by comedies since, for example Friends.

The theme tune was sung by the cast members and was released on BBC Records but failed to make the UK singles chart.

DVD Releases

The first four series have so far been released, the last three series have yet to be released.

External links

* [ People of ‘Bread streets’ likely to lose their view]
*|id=comedy/guide/articles/b/bread_1299000416.shtml|title="Bread" Comedy Guide
*imdb title|id=0090402|title=Bread
* [ "Bread"] at
* [ "Bread"] at
* [ "Bread"] Illustrated article on Collecting Books and Magazines website

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