Tuesday, 31 May 2016
The writer Carla Lane has died
The television comedy writer Carla Lane has sadly passed away. The BBC has reported that Lane passed away earlier today in a care home at the age of 87.
Lane, born in Liverpool, was one of the few female television writers during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, writing about ordinary working class people and channeling humour and pathos in equal measure from every day situations. Her biggest successes were The Liver Birds (1969 - 1979), Butterflies (1978 - 1983) and Bread (1986 - 1991).
Early on in her writing career, Carla wrote 24 episodes of the classic Thames television situation comedy Bless This House. This series starred none other than the man himself, Sidney James. Lane will mainly be remembered for producing comedy series which put strong women at their core however in Bless This House, surely as traditional as comedies get, she found crucial early experience.
My own favourite of Carla Lane's body of work in the BBC2 comedy drama Butterflies. It was a shift from pure comedy for Lane and for its star, Wendy Craig. It told the story of Ria Parkinson, a middle class woman with two grown up sons and a successful middle class husband. Without a career of her own, she faced middle age without much of a purpose and soon and contemplates an affair with a rich, rather suave businessman. This series depicted changes in our society as a generation of stoic women found their voice, their freedom and their independence.
I found Butterflies' blend of traditional situation comedy with a serious edge of pathos to be both believable and refreshing. It showed a different side of leading lady Wendy Craig and demonstrated the strength of Carla Lane as a truthful writer in command of her subject matter.
Without a doubt Carla Lane was a trailblazer, leading the way in the days when the BBC was still overwhelmingly a male-dominated organisation. Lovers of British comedy owe her a great debt. She will be sorely missed but as with all the greats, we at least have a wonderful body of work to remember her by.
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