Jean Boht who starred as Nellie Boswell in BBC sitcom Bread has died aged 91 – just a month after her husband of 53-years passed away

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  • Statement from her family said she passed away after dementia battle 

Jean Boht, best known for playing Nellie Boswell in sitcom Bread, has died aged 91 just six weeks after her composer husband passed away.  

Boht died while battling dementia and living at the prestigious actors’ retirement home Denville Hall in Hillingdon, North-West London, her family said. 

Her husband of 53 years, Carl Davis, the conductor and composer behind shows including the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, died aged 86 in early August.   

Jean Boht, best known for playing Nellie Boswell in sitcom Bread, has died aged 91, her family said

Jean Boht, best known for playing Nellie Boswell in sitcom Bread, has died aged 91, her family said

Boht and her composer husband Carl Davis are seen at the Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2014

Boht and her composer husband Carl Davis are seen at the Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2014

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

‘Jean had been battling vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with the indefatigable spirit for which she was both beloved and renowned.

‘She was a resident at Denville Hall, the home for members of the theatrical profession.’

Born in Bebingdon in 1932, Boht began her career as a £1-a-week student at the Liverpool Playhouse and went on to join the Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Companies before returning to Liverpool to star alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins, Lynda La Plante and Sir Patrick Stewart.

She also starred at the Royal Court, the National Theatre and at the Chichester Festival, as well as numerous West End theatres.

Jean Boht (centre) is seen with the other stars of the sitcom Bread in 1990

Jean Boht (centre) is seen with the other stars of the sitcom Bread in 1990

Born in Bebingdon in 1932, Boht began her career as a £1-a-week student at the Liverpool Playhouse and went on to join the Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Companies. Above: Boht as a young woman
Boht in 1988

Born in Bebingdon in 1932, Boht began her career as a £1-a-week student at the Liverpool Playhouse and went on to join the Bristol Old Vic and Manchester Companies. Above: Boht as a young woman, and right in 1988

Her film roles included appearances in The Girl In A Swing, Bad Night For The Blues and Mothers And Daughters.

But it was her role on Bread, created by Carla Lane, for which she was best known.

The show was watched by more than 20 million people at its peak and Boht won a British Comedy Award for best TV comedy actress.

Set in the Liverpool neighbourhood of Dingle, Bread followed the ups and downs of the working class Boswell family, and was arguably Lane’s finest television creation.

In her role as head of the family, Boht's character was often seen opening a chicken-shaped egg holder prior to the evening meal, into which relatives would place money for their upkeep

In her role as head of the family, Boht’s character was often seen opening a chicken-shaped egg holder prior to the evening meal, into which relatives would place money for their upkeep

Actresses Jean Boht (left) and Melanie Hill in a scene from the Christmas special of the BBC television sitcom 'Bread', November 10th 1990

Actresses Jean Boht (left) and Melanie Hill in a scene from the Christmas special of the BBC television sitcom ‘Bread’, November 10th 1990

Boht's character also spent time battling to keep her estranged husband Freddie (Ronald Forfar) out of the arms of 'that tart' Lilo Lil. Above: Boht and Forfar in a scene from Bread in 1988

Boht’s character also spent time battling to keep her estranged husband Freddie (Ronald Forfar) out of the arms of ‘that tart’ Lilo Lil. Above: Boht and Forfar in a scene from Bread in 1988

Jean Boht with James Bond star Sean Connery when at the Lyric Theatre in 1989

Jean Boht with James Bond star Sean Connery when at the Lyric Theatre in 1989

Jean Boht with entertainer Cilla Black in 1994

Jean Boht with entertainer Cilla Black in 1994

Her husband Carl Davis, the conductor and composer behind shows including the BBC's 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, died aged 86 in early August

Her husband Carl Davis, the conductor and composer behind shows including the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, died aged 86 in early August

In her role as head of the family, Boht’s character was often seen opening a chicken-shaped egg holder prior to the evening meal, into which her children would place money for their upkeep. 

She also spent time battling to keep her estranged husband out of the arms of ‘that tart’ Lilo Lil. 

At its peak, Bread had 21million viewers, more than Coronation Street. It was so popular and so political that the BBC refused to broadcast it on the eve of the 1987 General Election.

Boht was also known for her appearances on shows such as Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Last Of The Summer Wine, Brighton Belles, Doctors, Grange Hill, Juliet Bravo and Boys From The Blackstuff. 

She was the subject of the biographical television show This Is Your Life in 1989.

Mr Davis and Ms Boht, who married in 1970, had two children and three grandchildren.




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