Bread star actress Gilly Coman dies from suspected heart attack
THE actress who played Aveline in the classic Liverpool sitcom Bread has died from a suspected heart attack.
Gilly Coman, 54, was a graduate of the Elliot Clarke drama school and the child of theatrical parents who owned a dance school in Patterdale Road, Wavertree.
She joined Elliot Clarke, on Rodney Street, aged seven, at a time when professional drama schools were rare.
She would work at school lessons in the morning before switching to drama and dance and working into the early evening.
She achieved success in her acting career appearing in Coronation Street, Boys from the Blackstuff, Emmerdale Farm, Brookside and one-off TV dramas.
She acted in Ronnie Barker’s Open All Hours and appeared in Inspector Morse.
But by far her largest impact on the public consciousness was her turn as wannabe model Aveline Boswell in the hit 1980s comedy Bread.
More than holding her own in a stand-out cast that included Jean Boht as Ma Boswell and future film director Peter Howitt as her cool brother, Joey, Gilly was instantly recognisable with her shock of flame red hair, outrageous stockings and short skirts, and cripplingly high heels.
She starred in Bread for five series and was at the centre of one of its most memorable moments when more than 21m people watched Catholic Aveline marry Protestant vicar Oswald in 1988.
That’s more than the UK audience for the 2010 World Cup Final.
She left Bread to have a baby in 1989 and was replaced by Melanie Hill. The show continued for two seasons before ending.
Gilly retired from acting in 2000 to bring up her three boys and youngest child Jessica, living in Caldy, Wirral, with husband Phil, a photographer.
Lifelong friend Jane Joseph, who met her in school aged seven, is now director of St Helens Theatre Royal.
She told the Echo: “She was a fantastic actress, the original Aveline. Gilly told me when she went to her first audition she dressed the part and that is how she got it, everyone fell about the place.
“As far as I am concerned she was a person to look up to. She made her own way in the acting community and really carved her career out.
“Everybody used to say she created the role of Aveline, and the other actress was really just stepping into her shoes.
“I only saw her a few weeks ago at the funeral of Mavis Taverner, our old dance teacher. That was a sad occasion but we had a good old laugh talking about Mavis and the good old days.
“She was also a marvellous mother. She gave up her career for her children.
“I tried to get her to come back a few months ago because I had a part for her that would have been perfect. She thought about it but said no. She wanted to wait until her youngest had done her GCSEs.
“We were waiting for her to come back. This is an untimely death.”
Bread creator Carla Lane added: “She was brilliant. She played the daughter and she was amazingly funny.
“Her character, she was a crazy girl but lovely. The way she dressed up in those high heels and walked down the street represented Bread for me.”
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Re: Bread star actress Gilly Coman dies
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