Carla Lane's stars bid her a fond farewell at the funeral of the hit TV comedy writer


The stars of Carla Lane's hit comedies joined family and friends in paying tribute to the acclaimed writer at her funeral.

Shows such as Bread, The Liver Birds and Butterflies established Carla as one of the country's best-loved writers. Much of her work focused on strong female characters ranging from frustrated housewives to working class matriarchs.

Among those attending the hour-long service at Liverpool Cathedral were Bread actors Jean Boht, Peter Howitt, Melanie Hill, and Nick Conway, together with Nerys Hughes who featured in The Liver Birds and Wendy Craig who starred in Butterflies.

Television writer Carla Lane (Andy Kelvin/PA)

Speaking outside the cathedral, several of the stars praised Carla's writing skills which they said had transformed their lives.

Nerys, who played Sandra in the The Liver Birds, said: "She gave me the most wonderful scripts that you could hope for.

"Right through the seventies was such a joy doing The Liver Birds.

"She was one of those strong independent women who was also very gentle and caring.

"Quite a special lady."

Wendy, who played Ria Parkinson in Butterflies, said her fondest memory of Carla was "working with her".

Nerys Hughes at Carla Lane's funeral (Andy Kelvin/PA)

She said: "A wonderful person to work with, such fun. She gave me the best part of my life.

"It was a pleasure to have such a role. She understood how I acted and she wrote it that way and I am so grateful for her.

"She left such a great legacy."

Bread favourite Jean, who played Nellie Boswell, said Carla changed her life.

She said: "She had the greatest humanity and care when she wrote about real people, and made you love them. People related to her."

Jean Boht speaks during the funeral of television writer Carla Lane (Danny Lawson/PA)

While Bread co-star Peter Howitt (Joey Boswell) said: "She was unique. She created a wonderful divide between tragedy and comedy, and between comedy and drama.

"She bridged that line very well and you didn't know whether to laugh or cry and you ended up doing both."

A nod was given to Carla's passion for animal rights as four dogs from the Carla Lane Animals In Need centre lined up outside the cathedral as the funeral cortege arrived carrying Carla's wicker coffin.

Carla had transformed her former home at Broadhurst Manor in West Sussex into a sanctuary for a variety of creatures - looking after rescued farm animals, homeless cats and dogs and injured wildlife.

Television writer Carla Lane died aged 87 (Chris Ison/PA)

She received an OBE for services to writing in 1989, but returned it to Tony Blair in 2002 in disgust at animal cruelty.

A warm tribute was delivered to the congregation by Carla's former daughter-in-law, Dr Martine Anne Fleming.

Born Romana Barrack, Dr Fleming said the daughter of merchant seaman Vincent and Ivy and her much-loved sister and brother, Marla and Ray, grew up happily in the family's flat in Liverpool and loved each other.

She said that Carla often joked that she only moved out to get married because her mother would not let her have a dog.

"It was the first of many thousands of animals that she would go on to save, nurture and treasure," she said.

The coffin of television writer Carla Lane (Andy Kelvin/PA)

Carla had a love for her home city and drew much of her inspiration from its spirit and its people, mourners heard.

Dr Fleming said: "Without her beloved Liverpool there would be no Carla Lane. Liverpool was part of her and she was part of it. Like sandstone to this cathedral," she said.

Wendy Craig of Butterflies fame (Andy Kelvin/PA)

To laughter, she quipped: "In fact I reckon she is in here right now, willing something to go comically wrong."

She added that Carla's long association with the BBC ranged from the "youthful nonchalance" of The Liver Birds to the pathos of the series I Woke Up One Morning, which dealt with alcoholism.