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ATV Icon: Catherine Tate

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ATV Icon: Catherine Tate

Our second name entered into the ATV Icons Hall of Fame this series is actress, writer and comedy performer, Catherine Tate.

Catherine Tate has most recently been seen in her latest BBC series, Queen Of Oz which she created, wrote and produced.

Last year she led the cast of Hard Cell for Netflix which she also wrote and directed, but Catherine is probably best known for her award-winning sketch series The Catherine Tate Show which followed in the tradition set by those who went before such as Dick Emery gave TV viewer memorable characters and catchphrases. From Derek Faye, a man who should never be considered gay, even if he does like to read Woman’s Weekly to dear old Nan, who appears to be a charming old dear but is actually a forthright foul-mouthed nightmare. It’s this character that also took Catherine to the big screen with WarnerBros feature, The Nan Movie which follows Joanie Taylor on a wild road trip.

Following the success of the sketch show Tate has been in much demand with a high point being joining the long list of talent that has graced the TARDIS and those space and time travellers in Doctor Who. Catherine played Donna Noble in the Beeb’s science fiction drama alongside David Tennant. The pair return to the world this year for the highly anticipated 60th-anniversary specials.

Catherine rehearsing for ‘The Enfield Haunting’

Other television includes My First Nativity (Sky), Big School (BBC), The Bad Mother’s Handbook (Netflix), Leading Lady Parts (BBC), Nellie Bertram in the US version of The Office and Magica DeSpell in Disney’s Ducktails. Catherine has also graced films such as SuperBob, Nativity3, Monster Family, Starter For Ten, Sixty-Six, Gulliver’s Travels and Monte Carlo.

Tate is currently appearing as Peggy Hodgson, a single mother who tries to protect her three children from something that is incomprehensible and deeply disturbing in the stage production of The Enfield Haunting based on events that were noted to have happened for real in the 1970s.

Written by Paul Unwin, and directed by Angus Jackson, The Enfield Haunting is currently playing at Richmond Theatre and moves to The Ambassadors Theatre in London for a limited West End season from 30 November 2023 until 2 March 2024. The Hodgsons had no idea what a poltergeist was when, in the summer of 1977, furniture and toys started moving of their own accord. They were an ordinary, working-class family, who lived in a North London council house at 284 Green Street, Enfield, but for the next eighteen months became the centre of one of the most famous poltergeist events in the world.

Janet, the possessed sixteen-year-old, was nearly pulled out of a window. The local ‘lollipop lady’ saw her floating six feet in the air in an upstairs room and Janet was found fast asleep in a neighbour’s bed. There are tapes of Janet growling for hours in a voice that doctors said would destroy a sixteen-year-old girl’s vocal cords after a few minutes.

Catherine and David Threlfall in The Enfield Hauntings

Catherine’s other theatre work includes Assassins (TheMenierChocolateFactory), The Vote (Donmar Warehouse), Much A  Do About Nothing (Wyndham’s Theatre) The Princes Play and Season’s Greetings (National Theatre) and The 24-Hour Plays (OldVicandBroadway) to name only a few.

Born Catherine Jane Ford on the 5th of December 1969, in Bloomsbury, London, she took Tate as her professional name from the character Jessica Tate from the spoof American soap opera, ‘Soap’.

She attended St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Holborn, and Notre Dame High School, a convent secondary school for girls in Southwark. As a teenager, she had ambitions to perform and eventually, after a number of auditions, gained a place at The Central School of Speech and Drama. She spent a week at the Sylvia Young Theatre School but felt she wasn’t right for that kind of performing environment noting it was ‘very competitive’ and she ‘wasn’t Bonnie Langsford’.

In the late 1980 and early 90s she toured with The National Youth Theatre before turning to stand-up comedy. From the late 1990s, Catherine was a regular on several television series including, in 1998, on Barking a sketch show she co-wrote for Channel 4. By the mid-2000s the ‘breakthrough’ came on mainstream TV with the arrival of her own self-titled sketch format which ran for three series and over 20 episodes leaving a trail of still-used catchphrases behind including “How very dare you!”, “What a f*cking liberty” and “Am I bovvered?”

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