Catherine Tate

You know you've made it when you get the Prime Minister quoting your catchphrase, but we're sure Catherine Tate's not that bovvered about all her success.

Catherine Tate

She's a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company and starred in the BBC's lavish adaptation of Dickens' Bleak House as well as Doctor Who. Oh, and she has a neat little sideline in comedy too. Clever girl, that Catherine.

Catherine Tate isn't exactly what you'd call a born optimist. In fact, she says that "any form of success is only ever a relief and sets my default position back to neutral." She must be feeling pretty bloomin' neutral nowadays, what with being Britain's biggest female comedy star and all. Dawn French saw the threat coming years ago when she issued a dire warning; "Catherine Tate is too talented and must be destroyed." You missed your shot, Dawn.

The path from convent school to chav queen Lauren Cooper has been a bumpy one. Catherine attended Notre Dame high school, a Catholic school run by nuns. And not those jolly singing ones from films, either. Leaving school without A-levels, it took her four tries before she bagged a place at drama collage, and that was only after she fled from the Sylvia Young Stage School (she lasted a mere week). But after all that zigging, Tate finally zagged into success.

She got properly luvvied up with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was torn between being a serious thesp and an alternative comedian. The Edinburgh Festival decided it for her - a sell-out show in 2001 plonked her firmly on the comedy map, and before long she was starring in her own sketch show and, just as importantly, insulting Prince Philip (he reportedly complained when, during a Royal Variety Performance, she shouted up at the Queen; "She is bling, but the old fella next to her is asleep!") Her work in the Catherine Tate Show scooped her four Bafta's. Even more amazing is that Catherine's comedy skills are so great she managed to get "bovvered" entered into the dictionary - it was even made word of the year in 2006. That's some seriously powerful comedy writing.

Not content with planting her flag on the pinnacle of telly comedy, the tireless Catherine has even amassed an army of fans as the one Doctor Who companion in recent years who - Gallifrey be praised - didn't actually fancy the Doctor. Originally Catherine's role was just meant to be just for the one Christmas special, but she proved so popular she was asked back to be the Doctor's companion. When she found out she bagged the role she said, "I was holding out for a summer season at Wigan rep but as a summer job, this'll do". It's all a far cry from the days when her telly credits included such esteemed roles as 'young woman' on Men Behaving Badly and minor roles in The Bill and London's Burning.

Recently she's teamed back up with David Tennant to show off her acting chops, receiving critical acclaim in her performance of Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Not as laugh out loud funny, to be fair, his version of comedy. She's also had some other serious roles including the Bad Mother's Handbook and Starter For 10. She also starred in a Take That video for Comic Relief, auditioning for the tribute band Fake That.

But is she really as negative as she claims? Deep down, is she really not bovvered about it all? Well, we certainly hope so - every comic worth their salt looks on the bleak side of life. Recently treading the boards, she seems capable of anything, but as long as she continues to give us characters as needlessly offensive as Nan Taylor, we'll be happy. Well, not happy – neutral...

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