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London’s most famous Burke

The Evening Standard

Kathy Burke has been called a national treasure so many times that they might as well erect a monument to her. So it is a matter of some concern when one of the very few Brits to have won the prestigious Best Actress award at Cannes, for Nil By Mouth, declares that she’s had enough of acting.

The truth is that her work on screen has slightly overshadowed her other life as a playwright and a theatre director. But next week, at the Royal Court, Burke-fanciers will be able to see the results of her directorial work on stage with a new Nick Grosso play, Kosher Harry. Having directed the self-penned Mr Thomas at her local watering-hole, The Old Red Lion in Islington in the Eighties, which starred the then relatively unknown Ray Winstone, she concentrated on acting until last year when she directed Jonathan Harvey’s play Out in the Open at Hampstead Theatre Club.

Why have I left this so long? I’m not satisfied with just acting. And I want to do more

“When I directed in Hampstead I thought, ‘Why have I left this so long? I’m not satisfied with just acting. And I want to do more. I don’t want to film yet; I don’t think I could cope with that kind of pressure.”

So, after appearing in the next Shane Meadows film, Burke is “not accepting any more acting work”.

“Dominic Dromgoole wants me to do Chekhov,” she says. “He’s like, if it’s not Chekhov, it’s f***-off. I get sent several film scripts but I want to do new theatre, new plays. Does the theatre think I’m not in the theatre world any more? I don’t like doing what people expect me to do. I don’t want to do parts turned down by Rosie O’Donnell.”

So this year is a year away from acting and a year concentrating on writing and directing. Also, she has her relatively new house to consider, having moved out of her old council flat in Islington last year. A nurse took over the old flat, which pleased her no end. Meanwhile, there is still the boyfriend drought to consider. She confesses that her television comedy, Gimme Gimme Gimme, has inspired a few would-be suitors to write to her, including a vicar and a professor, but she does not live under the shadow of her biological clock.

“I’ve never been moody broody. I’ve got to get a date first, Neil. Longer than a week. I wouldn’t want to do it on me own. The professor wrote that his first wife wasn’t very attractive either so I thought, well, he’s f***** that …”

If a statue or a monument to our surviving national treasure is too much to ask, how about a blue plaque on Burke’s house? It should read: “Kathy Burke: Playwright, Director, Actress. Kaff woz ‘ere.”

By Neil Norman. Original article.