Thursday 12 December 2019

Carla Lane - the TV writer who dared to make women funny - dies aged 87

Carla Lane's sitcoms, which included The Liver Birds, Butterflies and Bread, established her as one of the country's best-loved writers
Carla Lane's sitcoms, which included The Liver Birds, Butterflies and Bread, established her as one of the country's best-loved writers

Television writer Carla Lane - who created several popular sitcoms including The Liver Birds - has died aged 87.

Her family paid tribute to their "darling Carla" who "brought Liverpool to life".

They said: "With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our darling Carla today. But with smiles on our faces we also take this opportunity to reflect on her incredible achievements, all of which make us so unbelievably proud to be part of her family.

"We were very lucky that her quick wit, determination and passion brought Liverpool to life on screen for others to share."

Lane, who was born Romana Barrack, died at Stapely Care Home in her home town Liverpool on Tuesday.

Her sitcoms, which also included Butterflies, Bread and The Mistress, established Lane as one of the country's best-loved writers. Much of her work focused on women's lives - with characters ranging from frustrated housewives to working class matriarchs.

The Liver Birds series - based on flat-sharing Liverpudlian women - made famous the line: "'You dancing?', 'You asking?', 'I'm asking!', 'I'm dancing!'"

She continued writing into the 1990s and produced as well as wrote the BBC series Luv in 1993.

Lane was also a keen animal rights activist and had an animal rescue centre named after her three years ago near Liverpool.

Fran Ellis, founder and trustee at the Carla Lane Animals in Need Sanctuary in Melling, Merseyside, paid tribute to a "champion of animal welfare".

She said: " Carla was our friend but above all she was a passionate friend and ally to abused and abandoned animals.

"The world of animal welfare will be all the poorer for the loss of such a talented individual.

"We changed the name of our charity to recognise the work done by this special lady, her name will live on in all we do."

Lane transformed her home in West Sussex into a sanctuary for a variety of animals - looking after rescued farm animals, homeless cats and dogs and injured wildlife.

Ms Ellis said the writer and activist had moved back to her home town because she was unable to continue her work in West Sussex due to ill health.

She said: "Carla's sons Nigel and Carl gave her the greatest support and were determined that she would be able to carry on doing the work she loved so much. Saving the lives of vulnerable animals."

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

In 1995, Lane was given a Royal Television Society award for her Outstanding Contribution to British Television.

She was also a close friend of Sir Paul McCartney's late wife Linda.

She once described their friendship as like that of "identical twins". Lane told the Observer in 2008: "We were friendship-struck from moment one. We used to sit on the lawn with our two puppies, kicking leaves, and looking at them.

"We were like two scientists trying to find out why people don't like animals, and what we'd do to them, if we only could."

Mark Linsey, director of BBC Studios, said: "Carla Lane was a supremely gifted writer of bitter-sweet family comedies, loved by generations.

"Her legacy is extraordinary. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time."

PA Media

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