We’re putting this interview back up to celebrate 30 years since Carla Lane’s iconic sitcom: Bread first hit our TV screens on May 1st, 1986.
We had hoped to speak to Carla to update the original interview from 2014, but despite her willingness to talk to us, Carla’s health was not up to it.
So we say Happy Birthday Bread and hope Carla is well enougth to remember the success she enjoyed.
The Liver Birds
Bless This House
Going, Going, Gone… Free?
Three Piece Suite
The Last Song
I Woke Up One Morning
It’s quite an impressive list of work by anyone’s standards, of course we’re talking about the works of Carla Lane who in 1969, in an industry dominated by male writers, hit the right note with audiences with her contribution to the BBC’s long running Comedy Playhouse – The Liver Birds was commissioned for a full series. That show clocked up 86 episodes over ten series, many more successes followed making her a household name. Today Carla is semi – retired, whilst not currently writing she devotes her time to looking after her many animals at her own animal sanctuary.
Carla Lane – Welcome to British Classic Comedy
BCC: It’s quite an achievement to have success over so many decades and to have not one but two successful sitcoms off the back of comedy playhouse. Despite the success are there any of your works that you feel don’t get the recognition they should?
CL: Not really, I feel incredibly priviliged to have had such a good run.
BCC: Many writers have cited the success of Galton and Simpson breaking an established format with Hancock’s Half Hour as something that drew them into writing, what drew you into comedy writing?
CL: I started out writing serious material and just drifted into the comedy side.
BCC: Much of your work is distinguished by going much deeper than just the basic story, we get to become involved with the individual characters, their often complex relationships and their day to day lives, not unlike a soap not unlike a soap opera. Does this make the writing process more difficult?
CL: It’s not a clever thing to do, words just seem to come easy. I was surprised how easily it all came. I would tackle any given subject and it wouldn’t be a problem, I’d just give the subject some thought and write what comes. I feel incredibly lucky to be gifted with words and I suppose it helped that I have a sense of humour.
BCC: This Year marks 60 years since Hancock’s Half Hour began on BBC Radio, before becoming involved with TV you wrote short stories and radio scripts, are there any we might of heard of that have been eclipsed by your TV work?
CL: Not really, I was always pleased with the success of The Liver Birds as they said it would only be one episode and I ended up with 86 so I’m quite happy with that.
BCC: The 1960’s world of television was still dominated by male writers, how did you come to be involved with Comedy Playhouse?
CL: I’d already written the Liver Birds so I got myself an agent who dealt with that side of things, I didn’t really have much to do with that side of things.
BCC: Was there a particular inspiration behind the Liver Birds?
CL: I had a good friend, but we parted whilst still only very young, I was thinking about the fun and giggles we used to have and thought others might find the idea funny. From there it just seemed to come easily.
BCC: Whilst still writing The Liver Birds for BBC, you were among the writing team for Bless This House, It’s not generally made clear just how much of the show you wrote. Was this a side project as a writer, where perhaps it was a handful of scripts or were you part of the regular writing team?
CL: It was just somthing I became involved in in the early days, I co-wrote a couple of episodes, then I moved onto other things.
BCC: Bread, arguably your most successful sitcom, very much of it’s time it tuned into 1980’s Britain perfectly. Did it come about as a result of observing daily life at the time, or was there a specific inspiration behind it?
CL: At first I wrote the idea for a bit of fun, but found myself falling in love with my own characters so I developed it from there.
BCC: Your favourite piece of your own work and why?
CL: Bread, now and then others come to mind but Bread was very special. Loved working on it and loved the people I worked with, Scousers of course (laughs)
BCC: Your favourite sitcom of the moment?
CL: None really. it doesn’t feel the same, there’s nobody writing strong comedy, or being given the chance to to develop it, I don’t rule out writing again but have nothing planned. I think I did my best when it was easier to do.
BCC: Carla Lane, thank you, for talking to British Classic Comedy.
Editor’s Note: Carla was recovering from a bad bout of flu at the time of the interview, but having agreed to speak to us she kept her word. As she was not well at the time she very kindly invited us to talk to her again at a later date. Watch this space for more details.