At the age of 16 – when Kathy Burke first went to the Anna Scher Theatre School on Barnsbury Road, close to her home in Islington, London – Kathy Burke was bitten by the acting bug.
A year later, she appeared in her first film, Scrubbers, a gritty drama about a girl’s borstel. She played a working-class Londoner – a role that she later revisited in her award-winning role as Valerie in Nil by Mouth alongside old friend and fellow Cockney Ray Winstone.
Since then, she has become once of Britain’s best-loved actresses, starring in over a dozen movies, stealing the show in numerous TV dramas, appearing in various acclaimed theatre productions, creating numerous unforgettable comedy characters and popping up as herself in shows from Never Mind The Buzzcocks to Room 101.
Over her acting career, the working class London lass has play lead roles in every conceivable acting outlet and portray everyone from a deranged Queen of England, to a confused and horny (male) teenager, to a battered and defiant housewife. She is, as one paper pronounced, “the best British character actress of her generation”.
Kathy has worked with just about every big name in British acting from Gary Oldman, Mike Leigh, Robert Carlyle, Shane Meadows, Cate Blanchett, Rhys Ifans, Ray Winstone, Ricky Tomlinson; every comedy hero from Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse, Lee Evans; and the odd Hollywood movie star (Meryl Streep).
She fronted her own, very popular, comedy series, playing the foul Linda La Hughes in Gimme Gimme Gimme, which ran for three series. She retains the respect and admiration of everyone that has worked with her, and has inspired and encouraged many of Britain’s up-and-coming actors and actresses.
She has won numerous awards including several best actresses awards, best comedy actress and most popular comedy performer. And she has been nominated for many more.
Despite her enormous success in acting, however, Kathy’s real passion has always been theatre – both as a playwright and a director. She penned and later directed her first play, Mr Thomas, when she was 22. In 2004, she decided to give up the acting and concentrate on bringing plays to life on stage, something that she has done with persistence and with critical praise ever since.