Jean Boht, Star of the BBC Sitcom ‘Bread,’ Dies at 91

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Jean Boht, who played the iron-fisted matriarch Nellie Boswell on every episode of the 1986-91 BBC sitcom Bread, has died. She was 91.

Boht died Tuesday, her family announced, saying that she “had been battling vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with the indefatigable spirit for which she was both beloved and renowned.”

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She had been living in Denville Hall, a home in London for actors and other members of the entertainment industry.

Her husband of 52 years, Carl Davis, who composed the scores for The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Abel Gance’s epic 1927 silent film Napoléon, died six weeks ago after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

Boht appeared as the sarcastic Nellie on 74 episodes over seven seasons of Bread, which centered on a cash-strapped Liverpool family consisting of her husband (who has a mistress), three sons and a daughter.

“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 said in 2012. “But now when I catch it I am just astounded at how good it was and how very funny.”

Boht also starred on the 1993-94 ITV comedy Brighton Belles, which was based on the U.S. hit The Golden Girls. She played a version of Estelle Getty’s character, Sophia.

Boht’s résumé also included another sitcom, the 1985-86 comedy I Woke Up One Morning; the 1982 TV drama Boys From the Blackstuff; the films The Girl in a Swing (1988), Mothers & Daughters (2004) and Bad Night for the Blues (2010); and the 2006 play Embers, in which she starred opposite Jeremy Irons in the West End.

In 1989, she was the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life.

Born Jean Dance in Bebingdon, England, on March 6, 1932, she studied acting at the Liverpool Playhouse and eventually joined the Bristol Old Vic and Manchester theater companies.

Survivors include her daughters, Hannah and Jessie, and three grandchildren.

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