Actress Eileen Pollock, best known for playing Lilo Lil in 1980s TV sitcom Bread, has died at the age of 73.
Pollock, from Belfast, played Freddie Boswell’s brassy mistress in the hit comedy about a large Liverpool family.
She also had a long stage career and appeared in such films as Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and Mike Leigh’s Four Days in July.
Her agents said she was “truly a powerhouse of an actor, with huge generosity and spirit”.
Pollock trained as a translator, once joking that she “could have been a Eurocrat with a Porsche in every European capital city”.
But her first love was theatre. After moving to London, she worked backstage at the Bush Theatre, getting her break when an actress announced she would not be able to go on the following night.
Pollock was sent home with the script to learn the part. “It was really scary – but I did it,” she said.
When she auditioned for Bread, the producers wanted the character to be from Liverpool – but Pollock convinced them she should be Irish.
“The reason I said that was because I had been trying out my Liverpool accent on the taxi driver on the way to the audition and he asked me which part of Australia I came from. I thought then that I’d be better off sticking to what I knew.”
She got the part, and Bread ran from 1986-91, attracting 21 million viewers at its peak in 1988.
She said she didn’t mind being associated with the character. “I disbelieve actors who say ‘I want rid of that image’,” she told the Northern Echo in 2004.
“People will always remember me as Lilo Lil and it’s wonderful. I like it when someone says in a supermarket, ‘You know who you remind me of, don’t take offence, that tart from Bread’.”
When she got her first Hollywood role, it was as brothel keeper Molly Kay in 1992’s Far and Away.
“It amused Jean Boht [Nellie Boswell] from Bread,” the actress recalled. “She said I had been promoted from a tart in the TV series.”
Her other film credits included 1999’s Angela’s Ashes, and she played the title role in BBC Radio 4 comedy The Pamela Myers Show in 1995.