Jean Boht: Bread actress dies at 91

Jean Boht in 2016
Boht had been "battling vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease with the indefatigable spirit for which she was both beloved and renowned", a statement said.

Actress Jean Boht, best known for playing matriarch Nellie Boswell in the Liverpool-set 1980s TV sitcom Bread, has died at the age of 91.

Boht also appeared in sitcoms I Woke Up One Morning and Brighton Belles, and the drama Boys From the Blackstuff.

The news comes a month after the death of her husband, composer Carl Davis.

A statement from her family said: "It is with overwhelming sadness that we must announce that Jean Boht passed away yesterday, Tuesday September 12."

Jean Boht and Melanie Hill in Bread
Jean Boht and Melanie Hill in Bread

The statement added: "Jean had been battling vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease with the indefatigable spirit for which she was both beloved and renowned."

Born in Bebington on the Wirral, Boht began her career on stage at the Liverpool Playhouse in the early 1960s before performing around the UK.

On TV, she gained roles like Mrs Leivers in a 1981 adaptation of DH Lawrence's novel Sons and Lovers, and a benefits office boss in Alan Bleasdale's landmark Boys From the Blackstuff.

A part in sitcom I Woke Up One Morning, about a group of recovering alcoholics, led her to be cast in Bread, which was also written by Carla Lane.

Shirin Taylor as Rosa, Jean Boht and Michael Angelis as Max in series two of I Woke Up One Morning
Boht starred with Shirin Taylor and Michael Angelis in I Woke Up One Morning

She soon became known around the country as the formidable Nellie Boswell, who was constantly attempting to keep her large Liverpool family in check.

The show was a big hit, with 21 million viewers tuning in to watch a wedding episode in 1988 - making it the second most popular show of that year, behind only EastEnders.

"I never watched it at the time, it's too horrendous for actors to see themselves on screen so I had no idea what it looked like," she told the Liverpool Echo in 2012.

"But now when I catch it I am just astounded at how good it was and how very funny," she added.

Boht was named BBC TV Personality 1988 by the Variety Club of Great Britain, and won the prize for top TV comedy actress at the British Comedy Awards in 1990.

Golden Girls remake

She also appeared in Terence Davies' acclaimed 1988 movie Distant Voices, Still Lives.

In 1993, she landed a lead role in Brighton Belles, the British remake of hit US sitcom The Golden Girls, alongside Sheila Hancock, Wendy Craig and Sheila Gish.

Boht played Josephine, the new version of Estelle Getty's character Sophia from the American original. However, the UK remake failed to take off.

Later, she boasted that playing five different roles in the BBC's medical soap opera Doctors was a record for the show, and she continued performing on stage, including in Embers with Jeremy Irons in London's West End in 2006.

Her family's statement said she had been living at Denville Hall in London, a care home for actors and other members of the entertainment industry.