Should we be bovvered by Catherine Tate's live show? – review

3
Catherine Tate has brought some of her best loved characters to the stage
Catherine Tate has brought some of her best loved characters to the stage

Am I bovvered?” asked an insouciant Catherine Tate on the opening night of her live tour. It was the first time those words had been uttered by her character Lauren Cooper in nine years. A cheer erupted from the crowd.

This line became one of the buzzphrases of the mid-noughties, absent since then because Tate comically killed off the fast-talking teenager during the 2007 Christmas special of her award-winning BBC Two show.

But this wouldn’t be a proper Catherine Tate show without her three most famous words – a phrase that she even got Tony Blair to say. Shrewdly, Tate didn’t bother to contrive a way of bringing Lauren Cooper back. With a click of the tongue, she simply said, “You can’t kill off someone who ain’t real.”

Catchphrases are an intrinsic part of Tate’s comedy, which, in the style of Nineties sketch shows such as The Harry Enfield Show, mines the familiar for its content. Now she’s bringing all of those catchphrases to the stage for the first time, accompanied by her regular co-stars Mathew Horne (Gavin and Stacey), Niky Wardley and Brett Goldstein.

Her best known characters were all there, from Geordie Georgie to foul-mouthed OAP Nan Taylor

At the York Barbican, Tate playfully sprinkled the show with local references, and included some up-to-date nods to Paul Hollywood and social media sites. But for the most part, this show stuck to what its audience knew. 

Her best known characters were all there, from Geordie Georgie, who tries to drum up support for obscure charities, to Derek Faye, the elderly gay man in denial of his sexuality. Her hugely popular foul-mouthed OAP, Nan Taylor, whose humour is derived from being as filthy as possible, was teased throughout the show, helped by pre-recordings of Radio 1 presenter Nick Grimshaw. When she finally made her appearance, it was to unbridled adulation from the crowd. 

Catherine Tate on the Graham Norton Show Credit: PA

There’s no doubt that Tate is a talented, expressive performer with an observant eye. Her use of the familiar is the reason her characters resonate with so many people (as any sullen teenage girl who’s had her parents turn and laugh at her while watching Lauren Cooper will attest).

Tate can actually be at her funniest when she’s saying something unexpected

But her overuse of line repetition from the TV show’s regular sketches can leave the jokes themselves lacking at times. Tate knows that the sound of Nan shouting “f--k” is enough to raise a laugh from her crowd – and in that they come away satisfied.

But to be truly brilliant, the witty lines – the bits that aren’t being reused – have to be as good as the catchphrases. Fortunately, the Nan sketch, in particular, rose above that and was turned into an imaginative set piece that was more than just a sum of its parts.

Proof, then, that Tate can actually be at her funniest when she’s saying something unexpected. 

Touring until December 4; tickets: catherinetatetickets.com

Please review our commenting policy