5 August 1928
West Derby, Liverpool, England
|Died||31 May 2016
Mossley Hill, Liverpool, England
|Spouse||Eric Arthur Hollins (m. 1948; div. 1981)|
Roma Barrack (5 August 1928 – 31 May 2016), known professionally as Carla Lane, OBE, was an English television writer responsible for several successful sitcoms, including The Liver Birds (co-creator, 1969–78), Butterflies (1978–83) and Bread (1986–91). Described as "the television writer who dared to make women funny", much of her work focused on strong women characters, including "frustrated housewives and working class matriarchs". In later years she became well known as an animal welfare advocate.
Early life and education
Lane was born in West Derby, Liverpool. Her father, Cardiff-born Gordon De Vince Barrack, served in the Merchant Navy. She attended a convent school and, aged seven, won a school poetry prize. Lane grew up in West Derby and Heswall. She left school aged 14, and worked in nursing. According to her autobiography, she married at 17 and had two sons by the age of 19, though official records indicate that she was 19 when she married.
In the 1960s, Lane wrote short stories and radio scripts. Her first successes came in collaboration with Myra Taylor, whom she had met at a writers' workshop in Liverpool. Lane and Taylor would often meet at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool city centre to write. She said that she used a pseudonym, "Carla Lane", because of her modesty about revealing that she was a writer.
With Taylor, she submitted some comedy sketch scripts to the BBC, where they were seen by the head of comedy Michael Mills. He encouraged them to write a half-hour script, which was broadcast as a pilot episode of The Liver Birds in April 1969. A short first series followed, to little acclaim, but Mills then declined to produce a second series, changing his mind when Lane and Taylor wrote a series of new scripts. The series became one of the most popular of the time, characterised by Lane's "ability to conjure laughs out of pathos and life’s little tragedies", and, from 1973, Lane took sole responsibility for writing the scripts.
Her successful screenwriting career continued through the 1970s and 1980s, in particular with the TV series Butterflies and Bread. In Butterflies, described as "undoubtedly... her finest work", she addressed the lead character's desires for freedom from her "decent but dull" husband. Wendy Craig, who starred in Butterflies, said of Lane: "Her greatest gift was that she understood women and wrote the truth about them....She spoke about what others didn’t. In the case of [Craig's lead character], it was all about what was going on inside her – and many other women at the time."
In Bread, which ran for seven series, "she became the first woman to mine television comedy from sexual and personal relationships through a galère of expertly-etched contemporary characters, developed against a backdrop of social issues such as divorce, adultery and.. alcoholism." In the late 1980s, Bread had the third-highest viewing figures on British television, beaten only by EastEnders and Neighbours. However, Bread was criticised by some in Liverpool for portraying a stereotypical view of people in the city, an opinion that Lane rejected.
Lane had been a vegetarian dedicated to the care and welfare of animals since 1965, She established the "Animal Line" trust in 1990 with her friends Rita Tushingham and Linda McCartney. In 1991, she bought Saint Tudwal's Island East off the coast of Wales, to protect its wildlife. In 1993, Lane converted the grounds of her mansion, Broadhurst Manor in Horsted Keynes, Sussex, into a 25-acre animal sanctuary. She operated the sanctuary for 15 years before having to close operations due to financial constraints.
In 2002, Lane returned her OBE to then prime minister Tony Blair in protest against animal cruelty. In 2013, the "Carla Lane Animals In Need centre", named in her honour, was opened at an animal sanctuary in Melling, Merseyside.
Later life and death
Lane published her autobiography, Someday I'll Find Me: Carla Lane's Autobiography, in 2006. She returned to Liverpool in 2009. Lane died at Stapley Nursing Home in Mossley Hill, in Liverpool, on 31 May 2016.
- 1969–1978, 1996: The Liver Birds (with Myra Taylor and others)
- 1971–1976: Bless This House (with Myra Taylor and others)
- 1974: No Strings
- 1975: Going, Going, Gone... Free?
- 1977: Three Piece Suite
- 1978–1983, 2000: Butterflies
- 1981–1983: The Last Song
- 1981–1982: Solo
- 1984–1985: Leaving
- 1985–1987: The Mistress
- 1985–1986: I Woke Up One Morning
- 1986–1991: Bread
- 1992: Screaming
- 1993–1994: Luv
- 1995: Searching
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- "Television sitcom writer Carla Lane dies, aged 87". BBC News. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
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- "Carla Lane dies: Stars pay tribute to TV sitcom writer". BBC News. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "Roma Barrack: Births". FindMyPast.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Roma Barrack: Marriage record". FindMyPast.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Gordon Barrack: Births". FindMyPast.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Barrack/Foran: Marriages". FindMyPast.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- Carla Lane (31 October 2006). Someday I'll Find Me: Carla Lane's Autobiography. Robson Books. ISBN 18-61059736.
- "Liver Birds and Bread creator Carla Lane has died aged 87". Liverpool Echo. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Lane, Carla (1937–) – Biography". British Film Institute. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Ellen, Barbara (16 November 2008). "Going to a good home". The Observer. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- Stanford, Peter (1 June 2016). "'Her greatest gift was that she understood women' – Wendy Craig remembers Carla Lane". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- Bronwyn Jones, "Carla Lane's sitcom Bread and its legacy in Liverpool", BBC News, 3 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016
- Thompson, Jody. "Carla Lane forced to close her animal rescue centre". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Hewett, Emily (7 September 2015). "Bread writer Carla Lane opens £315k special care unit at animal sanctuary". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Jeffries, Stuart (1 June 2016). "Carla Lane obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- "Lane, Carla (1937–) – Film & TV Credits". British Film Institute. Retrieved 1 June 2016.