Way back when Catherine Tate first popped up in the TARDIS for a Christmas Special, I had heard she was “a comedienne in the UK” but that was about all I knew. Later, Donna Noble would become one of my very favorite companions. There were moments where she was hilarious, but it wasn’t a role I’d really call comedic (and her story crushed me in the end). Now, she’s a regular on the US version of The Office, but again, the humor can be a little dry. So let’s talk about a show where Catherine Tate is really allowed to let loose – The Catherine Tate Show.
I only found this show on Netflix about two years ago, but it’s never really fallen out of rotation since, minus a brief time when Netflix removed it and I wept. If you live in the UK or are an Anglophile, chances are you’re already familiar with the show, as it was quite popular. However, if all you know of Catherine Tate is Doctor Who, this is a side you haven’t seen before.
The Catherine Tate Show is a sketch comedy, wherein Tate plays a number of characters, often with incredibly impressive makeup. Remember Tracey Ullman and her shows? It’s kind of like that, though I far prefer Catherine Tate.
The makeup is seriously out of this world, and Catherine Tate embodies her characters so completely that you forget she’s not, for example, an old woman. Even characters that are roughly in her age range have not only wigs, but other, masterfully-done makeup (like, say, a different nose), so it’s easy to suspend disbelief and get to know each character. The cast of characters is large, but you visit most of them again and again, and believe me, favorites quickly form. One of mine is the Aga Saga Woman, who melts down at the idea of anything below her social class; here’s a brief, safe-for-work example.
I can’t stress enough how impressive the wide range of characters and voices are. She even sings in character. I can’t even sing as myself!
As an American viewer, probably the most surprising thing about the show is the language. I’m not one to blush at a little cursing, and I’ll giggle at juvenile humor more than anyone else. However, Catherine Tate and the other writers can get pretty explicit and do their darndest to elicit my shocked face. It’s all hilarious, don’t get me wrong, but it does mean I have to have to consider who gets a show recommendation. For example, I told my mother she’d probably love it, but warned her about watching it around certain other family members. Best to watch it first alone, or with people who won’t be shocked when things get bawdy.
There are additional Christmas Specials and the like that are a bit more difficult to track down (the picture with David Tennant above is from one of them), but the best place to start is with the basic show itself. All three seasons are on Netflix Instant, and I can’t recommend it enough (if you think it’s your kind of humor). It’s been two years now, so I think I can safely say I’m a fan.
What about you? Have you seen The Catherine Tate Show? What did you think of it?