Bread (TV Series 1986–1991) Poster


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Fond memories
Hanna-Reetta Paasonen19 April 2006
I have fond memories of this show. It ran in Finland when I was 11-12 (in 1990-1992), and I fell in love with Joey Boswell. I would never miss an episode. I thought it was so much fun, especially every time the family drove to solve some problem: first Joey's Jaguar, then Jack's van, then Adrian's motorbike and Billy's old broken Beetle...There was always one empty chair at the end of the table, and I imagined myself sitting there as the youngest daughter of the family. I remember the catchphrases - "I'm not ready for all this!", "She's a tart!" (which my grandmother disapproved of), "Greetings!"... Adrian's poem "Granny's Bucket" and another one that went something like "If you were dead, I'd go to all the places we were together and cry.. But you're alive. And I hate you." I learned many English words from this show, including "greetings", "tart", and "retaliate".

I remember being heartbroken when Joey's actor was changed. My idol was the original Joey, Peter Howitt. I also hated the new Aveline and felt the show was never the same after the change of these actors. I don't know which season that was, but apparently I'm not the only one who thinks the show went on too long. I can't believe Carla Lane blames the fans for abandoning the show - I would assume that repetitive scripts and characters that never evolve wouldn't keep the fans' interest on for very long. I used to think the unchanging nature of the show and the stay-at-home grown up kids were safe and positive, but as a grown up viewer I might get tired of them.

I haven't watched Bread in 14 years, and I'm not sure if I'd like to see it again and spoil the memory. For one thing, at age 11, I missed out on all the irony and subtext. A lot of the things I admired, like Joey's dedication to his family, might seem negative now. My mother, a social worker, thought the characters were offensive for their blatant abuse of the social security system. She thought that their real life counterparts would be very unhappy and pitiful, not someone to laugh at. I was mad at her at the time, but I can see her point now - the show made fun of unemployed people and presented them as lazy abusers of the system. The humor that made an 11-year-old laugh might seem tedious and repetitive to an adult. I don't think "she is a tart" would amuse me now.

For me, this show is best left unspoiled. It was very important to me once, and I'll always have those memories. A part of me will always live on Kelsall Street.
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One of the Greatest British Sitcoms
Jerry (Nglas)31 May 2004
I love this show! I used to watch this when my family was stationed in England and it became a favorite for my whole family. The mother was one of the best; loud, dominant, and acid tongued. She keeps her five children at home with her, as her husband continues coming back and forth between his family and his Irish mistress. Some of the best scenes are between the mother (Nelly Boswell) and the mistress (Lillian, but known as Li Lo Lil or Tart). Joey was a hottie with his bleach blond hair and black leather clothing. Aveline was the cute, but bumbling model. Jack was the shy, overweight antiques dealer. Adrian was the sexually repressed poet. And Billy, the youngest, was a daddy at 16. This comedy was great when its original cast was present, but once the actors playing Joey and Aveline left, it lost its humor. I'll always remember Bread for Nelly standing on her doorstop screaming," SHE IS A TART!" and then crossing herself before she returns to her chaotic family. A British Married With Children, but funnier. If you see this show, watch it!
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This Bread soon went crusty and stale
world_of_weird7 October 2004
A sitcom from my childhood that my mother absolutely loved, as did most of my schoolfriends, but as a twelve-year-old fan of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, I couldn't for the life of me understand what all the fuss was about. The show revolved around a supposedly penniless Liverpudlian family, all of whom had their own annoying and oft-repeated catchphrases, and to this day I can't believe how much the audience used to roar with laughter at "She is a tart!" and "All the colours of the rainbow, son". Written by Carla Lane, famous for being paid large sums of money for making nobody laugh (see also BUTTERFLIES and THE LIVER BIRDS), and featuring audience-grabbing but embarrassing cameos from the likes of Paul and Linda McCartney whilst shamelessly playing on every chirpy Scouser stereotype in the book - hey, we're all natural comedians, poets and lovable rogues, don't you know! - this series was a nightmare from start to finish and dragged on far too long. Carla Lane somewhat unrealistically blamed the show's declining popularity on "disloyal ratbag fans" rather than her own tissue-thin scripts and the atrocious, stilted performances from all concerned.
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Okay But Dragged On For Too Long
Big Movie Fan22 September 2002
In it's heydey Bread was a decent comedy about the Boswell family-a Catholic family living in Liverpool. Nellie Boswell held the largely unemployed family together during the series as they got up to all sorts.

Living down the road from the Boswells was Granddad who was an irascible old man who kept bothering them every five minutes. He added to the humour.

The only problem was that Bread ran longer than it should have. A lot of comedy shows outstay their welcome and Bread was one of them. It ran until the early 1990's but by that time most people-including myself-were fed up with it. Comedy shows should only have a limited run and Bread chose to go on for longer than it should have.

But in all fairness, the early episodes were very funny and do deserve a look.
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Learning to live the Scouse way
richiewales20018 June 2004
Set in Liverpool in the 198o's at the time of high unemployment, Thatcherism and the miner strikes, through to the 1990's. The Boswell household was run by matriarch Nelly, a strict Roman Catholic family and Nelly always found salvation in the Church. Every mealtime she passed round a china hen in which they all put money. Sometimes we got to see Freddy, Nellie's ex-husband, who lives in a caravan with his girlfriend Lilo Lil, a big chested Irish woman with flame red hair, short skirts and a little fur jacket and high heel shoes and an equal fiery temperament to match.

Every episode had some crisis which the whole family would resolve around the dinner table, and a prayer or two would be said.

Money matters would be solved by going to the local DSS office, where they were met by the fiery, ice hearted DSS lady. The family claimed every single penny they were entitled and more if they could. And they worked on the side too to bring in extra cash
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Want a few easy laughs? Patronise the working class
Vaughan Birbeck14 May 2004
It's so easy to survive poverty and economic depression. All you need is the wit and the nerve to outsmart Government bureaucracy. Then you can have a decent home with plenty of food on the table, you can even run a classic Jaguar!

At a time when Margaret Thatcher and her thugs were destroying UK manufacturing industry and throwing whole communities on the scrap heap of unemployment, 'Bread' came along to show working class people were lovable scallywags who could rake in pots of money from the Department of Social Security by running rings around the rules.

I can only assume no-one associated with this condescending garbage has ever been faced with actually trying to prove they are "genuinely seeking work" (which required a file of rejection letters as thick as a telephone directory) or making their remaining £5 (or $8) last until they are allowed more social security.

The alternative was to get a job as a 'security guard' being paid £1.95 (or $3.40) an hour. Oh, and you had to provide your own dog.

If you want to know what working class life was like in Liverpool in the 80's, watch 'Boys from the Blackstuff', not this rubbish.
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Why was this so popular?
Tony Walton11 November 2001
In its time, "Bread" was a bit of a cult show. Now it's being shown again on UK Gold (a UK 'classics' channel) I wonder what the source of its popularity was. The mother is domineering and has a nasty tongue in her head, her family are obsessed with 'the family' to the exclusion of normal social interaction with anyone else, the humour (such as it is) is laboured at best, and the dialogue is stilted and poorly-delivered.

This certainly hsn't stood the test of time.
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I love this very much
IridescentTranquility9 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is another BBC programme I saw as a small child that I'm currently trying to catch up on, and I like it more now for being able to understand it much better.

I particularly liked teenager Billy's relationship with Julie. Once she gives birth to their daughter Francesca (whose name Billy isn't entirely sure of at first) she's practically looking after two children, except for the fact that Billy - like the others - can't break away from his mum Nellie. As Julie says "Go back to the womb. You never left it." Other highlights include Adrian (who's living in a dreamworld and can't face up to going to the DHSS office on his own) and his sex-obsessed girlfriend, Joey - the eldest - who puts the family before his personal life all the time, Jack (always managing to buy 'antiques' and other items that turn out to be worthless) and - of course - Aveline, the only sister. Everything about her image screams "EIGHTIES!" at you - the clash of the patterns on her clothes, her over-sized earrings and her big hair. The older generation are just as good - Nellie (who takes her groceries to church, kneels at the altar then has to run back down the aisle after the giant tin of beans that just fell out of her shopping bag, in one scene), permanently hungry Grandad and Nellie's estranged husband Freddie. Give it a try.
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A Good Show That Went A Bit Stale
greg-23321 April 2003
"Bread" follows the lives of a close-knit family in 1980s Liverpool. We see their trials and tribulations, their daily battle with an outside world of crime, poverty, unemployment and immorality. Using their wits, the Boswells beat this world at its own game, exploiting every loophole in the welfare system to cheat the bureaucrats of the DHSS.

Nellie Boswell and her five grownup children (Joey, Jack, Adrian, Aveline and Billy) are fiercely loyal to one another. When one has a problem everyone else comes to the rescue, traveling in a convoy of cars, ranging from Joey's black Jaguar to Billy's clapped out old mini. You always see them walk closely together at the same pace, staring straight ahead. The charming, leather-clad Joey was always the first to speak, usually beginning with the word: "Greetings!" Not every episode had a happy ending, however.

When I first saw this programme I was still in primary school. It used to be shown on the ABC every Monday night at 8.00 PM. I liked it when it first started. 1986-1988 was the heyday of the show. But after a while it didn't seem so fresh. The show dragged on into the early nineties, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The mobile phones were still huge, though. They changed the actors who played Joey and Aveline, although I found the original Aveline's accent a bit annoying. The show seemed to have lost its sparkle.

When the last episode finished in 1991 we saw the camera draw away from the Boswell house in Kelsall Street (which looked identical to the surrounding streets), getting an aerial view of Liverpool at large, finishing with a shot of that old cathedral. And there it finally closed.
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80's Liverpudlian comedy
Virgil-1422 February 2000
Comedy set in a Liverpool household, about a family that scrimp and scrape to earn a living. The moral of the story is they sit around the dinner table arguing. Ron Forfar who plays the Dad, Freddie Boswell is a down on his luck nagged man after his affair with 'the tart' as his wife calls her. Not a sitcom that lives long in the memory.
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