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16th Oct 2019

Every character on The Catherine Tate Show ranked from worst to best

Ciara Knight

Am I bovvered?

It’s been a grim twelve years since The Catherine Tate Show aired its final episode.

Sure, we’ve had Christmas specials, but their finite nature always tinges them with sadness and we’re left wanting more.

It’s been years since I’ve heard a sarcastic teen shout “Am I bovvered?” at a nagging parent, and that needs to change. We need to bring these extremely quotable characters back into regular discourse. The show may be gone, but together, we can ensure that it lives on forever in our hearts.

The best part about The Catherine Tate show was the fact that every character was relatable, incredibly specific and just bloody funny. There truly wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. Some were slightly funnier than others, but at their very core, each and every one provided some level of a LOL to the masses.

So, in taking on an impossible and unnecessary task, I have ranked every Catherine Tate Show character from worst to best.

Forgive me, I tried my best.

33. Valley Girl

A few weeks ago, a woman in China opened a plane’s exit door before takeoff because it was “too stuffy”. Her actions become significantly more understandable if you take into account the fact that she may have been seated beside someone like Valley Girl, listening to long-winded and pointless stories, trying to block out the vocal fry and ignore how many times she says “like” per minute. Frankly, you would open the emergency exit mid-flight to escape such a scourge. What a melt.

32. Karen & Ben

Things are bad when such symmetry-defying haircuts are only the second worst thing about these two characters. Karen and Ben gave a chillingly-accurate representation of highly strung new parents who rearrange their lives and friendships around their baby’s tedious sleep schedule. Honestly, just stay at home. Your patter is weak and exclusively baby-related anyway. If I was friends with people like Karen and Ben, I would simply stop speaking to them immediately.

31. Botox Babe

It feels like this character had a very specific inspiration behind it but we’ll probably never find out who it was. Regardless, what a premise. Hollywood actress causes problems for the film/TV show she’s working on because her fondness for cosmetic surgery far outweighs the logistical nightmare of continuity. Credit where it’s due, self care is important. The shelf life of this kind of character was always going to be short as there’s not a lot you can do with her once the giveaway happens.

30. Backhander Woman

You’d be forgiven for initially assuming that this character had a gripe with her hairdresser, instead learning that actually she just has a very vivid and violent imagination. She had rage issues that could probably have been quite easily channelled into a mixed martial arts class, or twenty minutes of painting by numbers. The reactions of her co-stars were often a bit weak, but perhaps they living were in fear of “one swift backhander”. Things are good when the biggest complaint about a character is their dumb little haircut.

29. Lucky Woman

The very concept of a character missing out on certain death due to their fondness for nipping off to get a packet of crisps? That is funny. That is very, very funny, actually. But then for her to return to the scene of an attempted Final Destination fate and munch on the freshly-acquired snacks? That is art. The world wasn’t ready for this lady. She’s probably still alive to this day, munching on a packet of Quavers watching Brexit unfold. Hang on, is she Theresa May?

28. Jill The Clown

Every clown has a tragic backstory, we all know that, but our Jill had a particularly unique way of dealing with it. Usually, comedy = tragedy + time, but in Jill’s case, comedy = tragedy + actively reliving it during every waking moment. She tried to shoehorn details of a graphic car accident into her clown act, adding a tinge of reality to her endeavours. Frankly, it’s a circus I would pay full price to attend. We learned a valuable lesson from Jill. Clowns are people too.

27. Drunk Estate Agent

A one hit wonder, this estate agent came and went from the Catherine Tate universe quick as a flash. But while she was here, she made her mark with her slurred speeches and focus-resistant eyes. The luxury of buying a house is a fantasy many of us can only ever dream of, but if the estate agent turned up to a viewing completely out of his/her bin, at least it would be good entertainment to distract you from the fact that you will probably never own a house.

26. Sober Claire

If “I’m too drunk” is a valid excuse to get you out of a social situation, then on the grounds of equality, “I’m not drunk enough” should also be permitted. For example, have you ever eaten a kebab sober? Or told a friend that you really value them without needing alcohol to lure it out of you? Not unless you are a psychopath, no. “I’m just not drunk enough to find you attractive” is honest but it’s also a fair point. Sober Claire invented feminism. Do not @ me.

25. Victoria Russell

Starting to sense a theme here in Catherine Tate’s repertoire, which is that drunk characters are just a very easy win. Another exploit in the world of over-consumption of alcohol comes in the form of weddings. The guests are expected to get thoroughly lubricated, but the bride and groom must remain relatively sober for appearances’ sake. Let’s shun societal norms. Drunk brides should be commonplace because wedding receptions are boring as hell. Drink up. Justice for all.

24. Helen Marsh

“I can do that”, Helen says with the convincing tone of an utter spoofer. Her lies generally come from a good place, as she wants to help people that are, for instance, stuck for a tennis partner. But her bravado quickly unravels as it emerges that Helen is basically just Jay from The Inbetweeners in a curly ginger wig. Questions like “Is there a doctor present?” are her heroin.

23. Detective Amanda

More mysterious than a poo that disappears in the toilet bowl before you’ve even flushed, Detective Amanda should’ve been cast as the Riddler. She spoke like an English teacher who was trying to illustrate how metaphors work, but at a university standard class. When anyone tried to call Amanda out on her nonsense, they got a stern but deserved surname announcement. WHITTAKER.

22. Irene

Irene and silent Vernon are the food van workers from heaven, bringing lukewarm bun burgers to the masses along with a side order of exaggeration and lies. Unlucky Neville always seems to arrive the very second a big name star has left. Still, he gets his fill of food and whimsy from work-shy Irene, whose job appears to consist solely of telling Vernon what to cook, despite him being in clean earshot of the customer. Still, 10/10 would eat.

21. Sheila Carter

Everyone knows a Sheila Carter and if you don’t, I’m very excited to inform you that it’s you. You are Sheila Carter. You posh, Scottish, disapproving, pompous, gaseous wagon. A golden moment with Sheila was when she went to confession and the priest said “What ever is inside of you, just let it go” and then, inevitably, our Sheils let rip and absolute stinker. Farts are always funny. Catherine Tate knows that and she’s rightfully got us in the palm of her hand.

20. Sam & Paul

Possibly an unfair placement for the dynamic duo, but they just got very tiring very quick for me. Once we’d seen them for the first time, we had truly seen it all. Couple, very much in love, extremely Essex, make each other laugh quite a bit. That’s it. That’s the story. Find you someone who laughs with you the way Paul and Sam laughed with each other, frankly.

19. Crap Croupier

“No more bets please” was the most confident thing about this intern croupier, whose lack of interest in her job was frankly inspiring. She seemed to have a permanent hangover and complete disregard for croupier etiquette, eventually culminating in one of the finest sketches of our lifetimes – a croupier fainting after watching the ball spin around the wheel too many times. Genius writing, genius execution.

18. Janice & Ray

Your posh mate’s parents are on telly and guess what? They hate everything! Janice & Ray were plucked straight out of Coronation Street and they’ve got some qualms they’d like to air out. Every story was long-winded, ultimately ending in some unnecessary outrage about the predicaments in which they’d found themselves. The tag-team story telling was on point, though. As was the “Shiitake mushrooms” gag.

17. Moo Shepherd

If you can’t say “Lady Penelope” in a Brummie accent with complete perfection, did you even watch The Catherine Tate Show? Unconventional dog trainer Moo has mixed success with her colourful approach to gaining obedience from dogs, such as getting the dog owners to pretend that their dogs are with them. She tried, and that’s the most important thing. She really tried.

16. Trudy & Ivan

Theatrical wig emporium owners and spouses Trudy and Ivan thoroughly despise each other, which obviously makes for excellent viewing. The complete lack of subtlety when it comes to celebrity clients is astounding, combined with their receptionist’s inability to exercise any discretion whatsoever results in some comedic excellence.

15. Bunty Carmichael

Firstly, props for one of the best names in sketch comedy, ever – Bunty Carmichael. She’s a grown woman who insists on taking part in a children’s majorette team due to the lack of an age limit. Her fondness for apt jukebox song choices really finesses the character as Bunty always chose the perfect song to suit her turbulent moods. Where is she now? Probably dead by murder suicide.

14. Margaret

Basically everyone’s mum, the frightened woman was, as the name suggests, very scared by everything. Her husband turning a page in the paper, her husband putting a cup on its saucer in a perfectly gentle manner, her husband taking a bite of toast, basically the theme here is that Margaret hates her husband and also any noise whatsoever. She is a nightmare. The Christmas lights sketch was hysterical and showed that a fright is for life, not just for Christmas.

13. Elaine Figgis

She’s the kind of woman you read about in a waiting room’s outdated selection of trashy magazines, laughing at her misfortune before realising that you’re actually a love-deprived loser as well. Her intentions are pure, as is her quest for romance and happiness. In 2019, Elaine Figgis would absolutely be involved in a groundbreaking episode of Catfish, being both the Catfish and the person who was Catfished at the same time.

12. Kate

“Have a guess”, says Kate, representng an amalgamation of the very worst people you could possibly be seated next to in an open-plan office. If your employer has any kind of feedback facility, I recommend that you send him/her a link to any Kate sketch from The Catherine Tate Show to prove that office small talk can and will lead to manslaughter one day.

11. Geordie Georgie

Imagine working within a ten mile radius of Georgie? Even fifteen miles away there’s no chance your ears can escape her dulcet Geordie tones yelping every time she gets an email. She was excruciating in every sense of the word, which unfortunately makes her a very good character. “Every 38 minutes” someone is guilted into a charitable donation at the hands of a colleague who connected with this character over a decade ago. We’ve been played, folks.

10. Derek Faye

Number ten on the list, dear? How very dare you. What on earth are you insinuating? Derek had some of the best one-liners and jokes in the Catherine Tate world, as well as getting to star alongside Bonnie Langford(!) and having a close personal friend legitimately named Leonard Mincing. I want to go for a drink with Derek Faye and hear him trash talk celebrities, the concept of gender identity and the theatre.

9. Aga Saga Woman

The Aga Saga family exist, that is something that we all just need to accept and come to terms with individually in our own time. Aga Saga taught us that posh people are a different breed. Something like a misplaced egg cleaver has the potential to launch their lives into disarray. They don’t live like us, they have impeccable standards. The concept of a Pot Noodle is just a very funny joke to them.

8. John’s Mum

John’s mum started off as a terrifying woman from Northern Ireland whose physical presence was just as aggressive as her haircut. But her harshness softens when her son announces that he’s gay, as she turns into a warm and supportive mother who’s genuinely excited to show off her “godsend” of a son. “Did you hear about our John? He’s a gay man noy”, John’s mum proudly tells anyone who will listen. Cracking accent from Catherine, too. Her talent knows no bounds.

7. Sandra Kemp

Liverpudlian Sandra resides in a refuge for redheads because she’s living during a time where gingers are outcasts who require police protection. In a genius turn of events, she recruited the help of noted ginger Patsy Palmer for her ‘Gingers For Justice’ campaign, achieving televisual perfection. The sketches definitely contained a tinge of realness from Tate, who (spoiler) is actually a ginger herself. The production value was exceptional, coming across as a gritty BBC drama every time. Who knows, maybe one day.

6. Bernie

Just an Irish nurse with a severe underbite who’s actually very bad at her important job, in a nutshell, that is Bernie. She prioritises having a good time over everything else, and that kind of behaviour has to be applauded, especially in the healthcare industry. Infuriatingly, Bernie gave Catherine Tate a chance to flex her Irish accent as well, which quite frankly is very close to perfect. Truly, there is nothing this woman cannot do.

5. Sandra Graham

The very concept of a business professional playing ‘Last Hit’ in the workplace is funny in itself, so very little weighed on the execution, which was inevitably flawless anyway. Sandra finds herself consumed by the game, playing it during important meetings, in the office corridor, eventually culminating in a funeral-based conclusion to the game, where she runs to her colleague’s grave overcome with grief at losing the game. What a sketch. RIP to Sandra’s colleague though.

4. Amanda

“Welcome to BBJ’s. I’m your waitress today. My name’s Amanda but my friends call me Zebedee”. I mean, truly, you will not find a better character arc than that in this day and age. She’s the waitress from hell who thrives off providing a quirky dining experience. This is the kind of restaurant you’re going to find yourself in at some point, usually at the hands of your weird friend or boss who’s trying to cling to their youth despite being 59 with three kids that have all finished college. You will pray for the sweet release of death, but instead, you will get Zebedee, loudly.

3. Nan Taylor

It would’ve been too obvious to put Nan first. She’s had her time in the spotlight, now is the chance to let the others shine. Nan is the perfect comedy sketch character. She’s loveable, foul-mouthed, a deeply horrible person within, but still very endearing at the same time. Her grandson has a fate worse than death, religiously visiting a woman who makes it her personal business to body him beyond belief every time they’re together. Nan perfectly encapsulates the delicious leeway elderly people have regarding social etiquette. We will all become Nan eventually. Frankly, I cannot wait.

2. Lauren Cooper

Schoolgirl Lauren was always the flagship star of the show and with very good reason. Thanks to the writing prowess behind the show, Lauren avoided being typecast into a predictable fate as a mischievous school girl with very little room to grow. We were treated to her schoolday adventures, as well as part time jobs, train journeys, dalliances with MC Perkins, eventually culminating in her untimely death on a kayaking trip. If you didn’t drive your parents demented by repeatedly saying “Am I bovvered?” from 2004 to this very day, I feel bad for you.

1. Ally

Also described very simply as “Tactless Woman”, Ally was a top tier Catherine Tate Show character. The premise was very simple – she persistently suffered from a very severe case of foot in mouth disease. Plonk her in the middle of any part and Ally will embarrass herself and those around her by accidentally insulting anyone within earshot. Her inability to cover her tracks saw Ally constantly digging sinkholes for herself, without any means of escape. The crux of the joke always presented itself before Ally noticed it, so you could try to preempt the situation but rarely ever get it right. It was just a brilliant idea for a sketch character and the scenes always landed. I have no doubt that this fictional character would’ve been cancelled by now if she was a real person in 2019. We owe it to her to make that happen, frankly.

Images via BBC