Bread (TV series)

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Elswick Street: Where the exterior shots were filmed.
Created by Carla Lane
Written by Carla Lane
Directed by Susan Belbin (1986–1988)
Robin Nash (1987–89)
John B. Hobbs (1990–91)
Starring Jean Boht
Peter Howitt
Nick Conway
Victor McGuire
Jonathon Morris
Gilly Coman
Kenneth Waller
Ronald Forfar
Bryan Murray
J. G. Devlin
Graham Bickley
Melanie Hill
Pamela Power
Opening theme David Mackay
Country of origin England
No. of series 7
No. of episodes 74
Executive producer(s) Robin Nash (1986–91)
Producer(s) Robin Nash (1986–91)
John B. Hobbs (1990–91)
Production location(s) Dingle, Liverpool, England
Editor(s) John Dunstan (1986–91)
Chris Wadsworth (1987)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 mins
Production company(s) BBC
Distributor BBC Worldwide
Universal Pictures
ABC (Australia, home video)
Original network BBC1
Original release 1 May 1986 (1986-05-01) –
3 November 1991 (1991-11-03)

Bread is a British television sitcom, written by Carla Lane, about a struggling Catholic, working-class family in Liverpool, England. It was produced by the BBC and screened on BBC One from 1 May 1986 to 3 November 1991.[1]


The series focused on the extended Boswell family of Liverpool, in the district of Dingle. The family were Catholic and working class, and led by matriarch Nellie (Jean Boht). Each episode was centred around her children attempting to make enough money to support the family through various means.[2][3][4]

The show's title is a reference to "bread" meaning "money"; though this is not a Liverpudlian Scouse expression but cockney rhyming slang ("bread and honey"). A regular scenario in each episode was that of Nellie opening a cockerel-fashioned kitchen egg basket 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 ensuring the parking places outside the terraced house were kept free for the family's many vehicles, by putting out some illicitly-acquired police traffic cones.

The show featured soap opera-style cliffhangers. This meant that viewers had to watch 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.


Regular characters[edit]

Actor Role Episodes Duration Years
Jean Boht Nellie Boswell 74 1–7 1986–91
Ronald Forfar Freddie Boswell 62 1–6 1986–90
Peter Howitt Joey Boswell 39 1–1988 Christmas Special 1986–88
Graham Bickley 35 5–7 1989–91
Victor McGuire Jack Boswell 61 1–3, 5–7 1986–87, 1989–91
Jonathon Morris Adrian Boswell 74 1–7 1986–91
Gilly Coman Aveline Boswell 39 1–1988 Christmas Special 1986–88
Melanie Hill 35 5–7 1989–91
Nick Conway Billy Boswell 74 1–7 1986–91
Kenneth Waller Grandad 73 1–7 1986–91
Bryan Murray Cousin Shifty 49 4–6 1988–91
Pamela Power Martina 37 1–7 1986–91
Eileen Pollock Lilo Lil 43 3–7 1987–91
Caroline Milmoe Julie Jefferson 12 1–2 1986–87
Hilary Crowson 41 3–5 1987–89
Giles Watling Oswald Carter 49 4–7 1988–91
Rita Tushingham Celia Higgins 11 4 1988
Deborah Grant Leonora Campbell 19 6–7 1990–91

Cameo appearances[edit]

  • Linda McCartney was friends with Lane and had a guest appearance in one episode of series 4. Her husband, Paul, appeared briefly at the end of the episode, offering Linda a lift home.[5]


Series Original broadcast date
1 1986
2 1987
3 1987
4 1988
Christmas special 25 December 1988
5 1989
Christmas special 25 December 1989
6 1990
Christmas special 25 December 1990
7 1991



The theme tune was sung by the cast members and was released on BBC Records but failed to make the UK singles chart. The theme was re-recorded for the fifth series of the show, due to BBC1's transition from mono to NICAM stereo sound – the original theme had been recorded in mono.

A comic strip based on the series featured in the BBC's Teen magazine Fast Forward, although the overall tone was altered for the magazines younger readership.

After the series had finished, a stage play of the show entitled "Bread – The Farewell Slice" toured the UK.


Though the show was popular, and received audiences over 21 million, Bread was criticised for mocking Liverpudlian culture and people, who had suffered significant economic downturn and unemployment in the 1980s. Lane countered these criticisms saying that her characters were cartoonish and one-dimensional, and were not intended to be a serious social comment on the state of Liverpool.[2]

DVD releases[edit]

All seven series of the sitcom were released onto DVD in 2014.


  1. ^ "BBC – Comedy Guide – Bread". 29 December 2004. Archived from the original on 29 December 2004. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Jones, Bronwyn (3 June 2016). "Carla Lane's sitcom Bread and its legacy in Liverpool". Retrieved 6 February 2017 – via 
  3. ^ Newcomb, Horace; Newcomb, Lambdin Kay Distinguished Professor for the Peabody Awards Horace (3 February 2014). "Encyclopedia of Television". Routledge. Retrieved 6 February 2017 – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Huq, Rupa (15 August 2013). "Making Sense of Suburbia Through Popular Culture". A&C Black. Retrieved 6 February 2017 – via Google Books. 
  5. ^ Badman, Keith. The Beatles : After the Break Up. Omnibus Press. p. 409. ISBN 978-0-711-97520-0. 
  6. ^

External links[edit]