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Bread

Liverpudlian Boswell family are experts at exploiting the system to get by in life, with plenty of dodgy deals and government handouts to help

Genre:
Sitcom
Broadcast:
1986 - 1991  (BBC One)
Episodes:
74 (7 series)
Starring:
Jean Boht, Peter Howitt, Ronald Forfar, Jonathon Morris, Victor McGuire, Gilly Coman, Nick Conway, Graham Bickley, Melanie Hill, Caroline Milmoe, Hilary Crowson
Writers:
Carla Lane
Production:
British Broadcasting Corporation

The Liverpool-based Boswell family are experts at exploiting the system to get by in life. Despite the fact that none of the Boswells are officially employed, they manage to live a fairly good life thanks government handouts and various cash-in-hand jobs.

Family life for the Boswells centres around their God-fearing Catholic mother, Nellie. With her husband having left her for "a tart", she relies upon her eldest son, Joey, to play the father's role to her other three sons, Jack, Adrian and Billy, and her daughter Aveline.

Their ability to squeeze the DHSS dry, while the boys earn a living on the side, is legendary. But, although the family is the focus of their lives, they each have different reasons to be unhappy!

Our Review: Set in Liverpool, the series revolved around Ma Boswell who had all her sons tied to her apron strings, but was unable to control the carnal lusts of her husband. It took two series to catch on - initially panned by critics and ignored by the public - but by the third series it was a runaway success for a writer who had become used to such praise, Carla Lane.

The family name of Boswell had been used in her previous Scouse-based comedy, The Liver Birds and many of the names and traits had already been established in that series. Its popularity rivalled EastEnders; attracting 21 million viewers at its peak, Bread was one of the few programmes to break the soap's stranglehold on the TV charts at the time and, indeed, could almost have been called a comic soap opera itself.

The meteoric rise was halted, however, when two of the main stars left after Series 4 and subsequent series declined in popularity.