A chameleonic comic star, Catherine Tate conquered British comedy with her self-titled series "The Catherine Tate Show" (BBC Two, 2004-07). She earned boatloads of awards, as well as a reputation as a...
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Born May 12, 1968 in Bloomsbury, London, England, Catherine Ford was the daughter of a florist. She never knew her father. Always determined to become a performer, Tate was a class clown in high school and transferred to a boys' Catholic school because the one she was attending did not offer drama classes. She left school early to audition for the Central School of Speech and Drama, which counted legendary comediennes Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French among its graduates, and finally made it in on her fourth attempt. After graduation, she began making a string of television appearances and performing stand-up, eventually putting together a showcase at the 2001 Edinburgh Festival, which earned her a nomination for a Perrier Award. Discovered shortly thereafter by comic guru Geoffrey Perkins, Tate began to break out as a rising comedy star with roles on "Attention Scum" (BBC Two, 2001) and "Big Train" (BBC Two, 1998-2002).
Tate landed a part opposite Dawn French on the sitcom "Wild West" (BBC One, 2002-04) while the machinations to create her own show fell into place. "The Catherine Tate Show" (BBC Two, 2004-07) was built around various characters Tate had been perfecting in her live act, including Joannie "Nan" Taylor, a foul-mouthed Cockney grandmother; Margaret, an easily startled and oft-shrieking woman; Derek Faye, an effeminate bachelor who protests adamantly that he is not gay; and, most indelibly, teen Chav princess Lauren Cooper, whose catchphrase, "Am I bovvered?" quickly swept the nation. The series became an international smash and Tate a British comedy superstar who memorably tweaked Queen Elizabeth II during a Royal Variety Performance when she looked up at the royal box and said, "Is one bovvered?" before going on to zing Prince Philip.
For her show, Tate won two British Comedy Awards, four BAFTA nominations, an International Emmy nomination, and a Royal Television Society Award. Additionally, her catchphrase "bovvered" was named Word of the Year. She reprised her characters in many formats, but also branched out into other projects, including roles in the acclaimed Gillian Anderson-led adaptation of Charles Dickens's "Bleak House" (BBC One, 2005) and the romantic/academic comedy "Starter for 10" (2006) as well as starring in the made-for-TV movie "The Bad Mother's Handbook" (ITV, 2007) opposite Robert Pattinson. She guest-starred on "Doctor Who" (BBC One, 2005- ) as Donna Noble, a runaway bride who mysteriously appears in the titular time traveler's machine. The creativity of this unexpected casting delighted fans and critics, and the character proved so popular that she was brought back as The Doctor's full-time travelling companion for the fourth season in 2008 and appeared again in "The End of Time" special.
Blending her impressive dramatic chops with her comedic brilliance, Tate's performance helped her ascend to a new professional level on the international stage. She stole scenes as the quirky queen of the Lilliputians in the Jack Black comedy "Gulliver's Travels" (2010) and filmed a fun small role in the Selena Gomez/Leighton Meester/Katie Cassidy teen fantasy "Monte Carlo" (2011). Tate made her biggest headlines stateside, however, when she nailed a loopy cameo on "The Office" (NBC, 2005- ) as Nellie Bertram, a deliciously whacked-out candidate for the manager's position vacated by Michael Scott (Steve Carell). Fans rejoiced when news leaked that the show's top brass was hoping to rope Tate into joining the series fulltime, provided they could accommodate her busy schedule.
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