25 September: You know you've made it when The Guardian creates its own webpage for you ;-)
26 May: Kathy Burke appeared on the Graham Norton Show yesterday to plug the new show she's written called Walking and Talking. The show is based on her childhood in London ("my life at the age of 14, 15, waiting to get into the Anna Scher theatre") and stemmed from a short piece she wrote last year called Little Crackers - a true story about she and her friend Mary met The Clash and got their autographs.
The show also features Kathy herself playing an "angry nun" that is based on her father. "It was a very 60s and 70s upbringing, I had a really rough time but I remember everything with fondness. It shows a more innocent time, everything revolved around a phonebox."
She is also highly entertaining of course, causing Richard Attenborough to collapse with laughter when she recalled being told by a cab driver: "Don't take this the wrong way but you look exactly like Kathy Burke..."
You can catch most of Kathy on the YouTube video below - Graham Norton turns to her around 10 minutes in.
19 May: Kathy guest hosted Have I Got News for You last night: a rare accolade given to Britain's finest characters (and occasionally famous idiots). Starring alongside the usual team leader Ian Hislop and Paul Merton was Ken Livingstone - recently beaten in the London Mayoral election - and some funny fella with a good beard.
Thanks to the power of the Internet, you can watch the whole episode below (at least until the BBC complains and it's taken down). Kathy is a terrific host of course and you can expect to see her pop up on pther shows soon.
2 November: There's been a fair amount of press in the past week about Kathy's return to the big screen. She will be playing the role of Connie Sachs, a key supporting role in the spy book Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which is currently being filmed.
Also starring is old friend and collaborator Gary Oldman - who most likely persuaded Kathy to take the part - Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and others. According to one press report, whose source appears to be the film's executive producer, Kathy has called the part "blinding".
The character of Connie Sachs is an eccentric alcoholic spinster who both mothers and flirts with the MI6 agents. She's a Soviet specialist and comes out of retirement in Tinker, Tailor to help save the career of main character George Smiley. You have to say, it does sound like a great role for Kathy Burke.
Anyway, great news for Kathy fans to see her dipping her toe back in acting - something that she said recently she was only planning to be away from for a few years, but somehow got extended into a decade.
13 August: Kathy appeared this morning on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs - one British institution meeting another. The radio show is a long-time favourite mostly because of its clever format: guests are asked to select eight records that they would take with them to a desert island, and those songs are used to gain insight into who they are and where they come from (they are also allowed a luxury item and a book).
As ever, Kathy spoke honestly and movingly about her life and her experiences, including making peace with her alcoholic Dad before he died, her contentedness in living a single life, the pleasure of winning Best Actress at Cannes (Kathy's awards), getting over her hard-drinking 20s, and her nine-year breaking from acting (gone on longer than she thought it would).
Interestingly, a number of media outlets and a large number of blogs have picked on up Kathy's interview and reported her comments as news (Express, Telegraph, Radio 1). Proof if it was ever needed that she is one of those rare people that are embraced by a society to the extent that anything she says is of interest.
27 April: The media page has just been updated to include an interview with Kathy last year in which she talks about directing Horne and Corden (see below); as well as a link to a quick Sky Arts video interview.
28 April: The BBC has put out a press release about Horne and Corden, calling it "most successful first series of a comedy on BBC Three". The series attracted an average of 929,000 viewers - impressive but plenty of critics have been mean enough to point out that the audience dropped off rapidly, with nearly 1.4 million watching the first episode but less than half that - 675,000 - watching the last.
The BBC feels it has a success on its hands (talks are "underway" for a second series) but the critics have been pretty much universally negative calling it crude and unfunny.
14 April: The last episode of Horne and Corden was shown today. For in-depth details of the show and an episode guide, go to the British Comedy Guide website. There is an official website for the series on the BBC website.
10 March: The first episode of the six-part sketch show Horne and Corden, directed by Kathy, will be aired later today at 10.30pm on BBC Three.
8 March: An amusing spoof of Kathy's directing and role in British comedy filed on the set of Horne and Corden has been posted on YouTube by BBC Three. Pasted below.
15 October: Kathy has been named as the director for a new BBC comedy sketch series with the working title Horne And Corden Have Come. According to a press release, the BBC Three show is "designed as a traditional comedy entertainment show in the style of Morecambe and Wise". It will be consist of new comedy characters as well as performances in front of a live studio audience.
The production company, Tiger Aspect, has a few sparse details about the series on its website. A fan site for one of the two stars - James Corden - has a lot more. And the BBC's Newsbeat has an interview with the two about it. Of working with Kathy, they said: "[Mathew Horne] Amazing. It's so amazing to work with somebody who has such a calibre in comedy. She just knows what she's talking about and the stuff she's brought has been amazing"; James Corden: "I think she was quite daunted by doing this. She's directed a lot of plays and this was her first time directing on TV. But every now and then she'll just come up with a glimmer or a nugget of something which is brilliant and you think, 'Wow. That's great'. And it's great because she's got such an actor's mind on it as well."
The series should be on our screens early 2009.
10 January : Kathy has spoken about with the fact that she spent the past 12 months extremely unwell and hasn't been working as a result. She did an interview with Mark Lamarr and Jo Brand on Radio 2 and talked about catching the Clostridium difficle "superbug" while in hospital for an operation on her abdomen.
Disturbingly, she apparently went through no less than three "near-death experiences" during the course of the year, but jokingly added that "I didn't see any white light or nuns or anything". The C.difficile bacteria occur naturally in the body but an infection - on the increase in hospitals in recent years - can result in massive overgrowth which causes bloating, constipation, and diarrhea with abdominal pain. Thousands die each year as a result.
Fortunately Kathy appears to have recovered, although it took nearly a year to do so.
31 January : According to The Sun newspaper, Kathy was taken to hospital yesterday "with a mystery illness after collapsing with crippling stomach pains". Despite the wisdom of taking any Sun story with a pinch of salt, it has since turned out that Kathy has already been replaced as director for a play opening at the Almeida Theatre in March.
In fact, the Almeida put out a barely noticed press release [Word doc] on 29 January that read: "Anna Mackmin will take over from Kathy Burke to direct the Almeida’s latest commission Dying For It - Moira Buffini’s new free adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s satirical comedy The Suicide. Kathy Burke has unfortunately had to withdraw from the production at short notice due to ill health."
Burke's name has already been changed on the theatre's website, begging the question: when was Kathy Burke actually taken ill, and how does the Almeida know she will not be fit to direct in a month's time? Either Kathy's condition is known to be serious enough that she will not be able to return to work in the near future, or there was a falling out between Burke and the theatre and a period of ill health has been used as a convenient moment to end the association. We shall see if the truth unravels.
4 November: Kathy will direct Dying For It, Moira Buffini’s new free adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s satirical comedy The Suicide from 15 March until 28 April 2007 at the Almedia Theatre in Islington, London.
The classic comedy was banned by Stalin before a single performance, and this "inspired by" verison centres on Semyon, unemployed, living in the hallway and watching his wife Masha slave all the hours God sends. When his last hope to earn money and gain self-respect disappears, he decides to take his own life. Word gets out and Semyon finds himself inundated with visitors begging him to die on their behalf. On the night he is to shoot himself they hold a party, at which point events spiral to a climax.
Writer Moira Buffini’s previous work includes Dinner which was presented at the National Theatre before transferring to the West End, Love Play - commissioned by the RSC, Gabriel for Soho Theatre, Silence – commissioned by the National Theatre Studio and presented by Birmingham Rep and Doomsday Girl, also presented by the RSC.
Tickets for the play are not available at the moment but can be bought from the Almedia on 020 7359 4404, or online at Almeida.co.uk. They will cost between £6.00 and £29.50. Performances: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 3.00pm. The Almeida is located at Almeida Street, Islington, London, N1 1TA.
The cast has yet to be announced.
30 August : Kathy consistently pops up in various pointless newspaper or magazine chart rundowns voted by readers, or, more often than not, desperate features editors. And in a classic piece of manipulation, the Radio Times "commissioned a poll" which showed that Our Kath was the third "funniest woman of all time", beaten only by Dawn French and Victoria Wood respectively.
The reason why it is being pointed out this time is the same reason the poll was "commissioned" in the first place: because Dawn French has a new TV series called Girls Who Do Comedy, on BBC1 on Sundays at 10.15pm, which features Dawn French interviewing various female comedians in an effort to... well, it's not entirely certain, but it is funny and features celebrities so it's a go-er.
Kathy Burke features and you can see clips of her talking with Dawn French on the BBC's website to the programme at BBC.co.uk/comedy/dawnfrench/. You will also be able to see some of the interviews in full later. Kathy Burke's full interview is due to be broadcast Wednesday 4 October 10.00pm on BBC4.
9 April: Well, the reviews for Smaller are in (theatre of course doesn't even exist outside of London, according to the media) - and it's not good news. People don't like it. The kindest has been three stars out of five; the cruelest one star. The FT gave it two stars but savaged it, starting with the line: "As dismal evenings in the theatre go, Smaller is not offensive - merely slow, obvious and banal."
The general feeling is that the writer - TV soap author Carmel Morgan - has extended a particularly traumatic episode into a full play. It left quite a few critics depressed - "remorselessly bleak" said The Telegraph. And yet, as ever, everyone praises Kathy Burke as director. It was an "adroit production", says The Guardian; The Stage praises her "understanding of comedy and drama"; and so on.
This seems to be a persistent theme with Kathy Burke's plays: nice direction, shame about the play. I wonder what percentage of plays produced every year actually get a good review. Anyway, you can read some of those reviews on the directing page here.
10 March : [Correction]. Kathy's latest play, Smaller, is not being staged at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith from 28 March to 6 May, as was previous stated on this site. It is in fact at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. Their booking number is 0870 145 1165, or you can buy tickets online here.
Since it was the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith that was good enough to point this out, it seems only fair to alert readers that the Lyric will be staging a 21st century version of Homer's classic tale The Odyssey, complete with live music and puppetry, between now and 1 April; and then "music pandemonium" The Wolves in the Walls from 12 to 29 April.
25 January : Kathy has been added to this year's addition of Who's Who. To appear in the book you must be a person of "distinction and influence". Which is nice. Kathy was one of 1,000 new entrants this year including Dame Kelly Holmes, who won two golds for Britain in the Athens Olympics, and Frank Skinner who will apparently be listed as a comedian. Once in, you stay in Who's Who until you die, at which point you get a place in Who Was Who.
17 December: You can't accuse Kathy Burke of being afraid of hard work. The God of Hell finished earlier this month, and she's already signed up for another directing stint.
Smaller, written by TV writer Carmel Morgan (Coronation St, Brookside, Shameless), will star comic legend Dawn French alongside songstress and friend Alison Moyet, and will open in Milton Keynes on 20 February.
From then it will go to Brighton, Birmingham and then settle in for a six-week run at the Lyric Theatre in London (on Shaftesbury Avenue). All details and links below.
Smaller is a musical play and tells the story of Bernice Clulow (Dawn French), a teacher and the life and soul of the staff room, who looks after her disabled mother Maureen, with some difficulty. Bernice's sister, Cath (Alison Moyet) wanted to be a singer but has found herself singing karaoke for hen parties on the Costa del Sol. The two sisters are forced to face their own guilt, resentment and fear.
3 November: The God of Hell press reviews have come in and well... there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that no one likes it. The Telegraph has been the most forthright, calling it a "dismayingly glib piece of right-on, left-wing paranoia". Most of the others have found the satire a bit, well, obvious. The Stage says: "as is often the case with those who rail against the establishment, he goes a bit too far". And so on and so forth.
The good news is that the "he" in the last quote refers to the writer, well-known US playwright Sam Shepard. All the reviews just don't like the play. However, they are all full of praise for Kathy's direction. A "superbly acted production" according to Bloomberg; the Herald says Kathy gives the play "venomous truth"; even the scathing Telegraph relents "mind you, those who like this sort of tosh won't find it much better staged than it is here".
So there you go. I have decided that rather than simply include links to reviews, I would add them to this site with a link in the page itself. As such you can read all the reviews for The God of Hell on the Directing page by clicking here.
23 October: Thursday was the opening night of Kathy's new play. She's directing the European premiere of Sam Shepard's The God of Hell, a strong criticism of the current Republican administration in power in the US. It's at the Donmar Theatre, from 20 October to 3 December. Box Office: 0870 060 6624.
To tie in with it, she's been interviewed in the Observer today. Quite a long piece. And interesting in that Kathy talks about going to see a therapist, as well as how deals with the job, works with people, why she dislike acting (again) and other stuff. I've stuck it in the Media section. No reviews as yet.
17 June: Only just noticed a "60-second interview" with Kathy in the Metro - London's free newspaper - from earlier this month. Don't know what they call it the 60-second interview: it obviously took far longer than that and takes longer than that to read too. Still, I've added it plus an earlier one from 2002 that I found at the same time to the Media section. Enjoy. Also learnt that Kathy apparently turned down a role in a Harry Potter film. I wonder which role. Possibly Mrs Weasley. Although another great British actress - Julie Walters - plays her, and I'd always imagined her as the first choice for the role. Who knows?
5 June: Kathy appeared on Jonathan Ross' Radio 2 Saturday show yesterday, talking about The Quare Fellow, tea, her lodger Tom, life in general and why she prefers working on TV than in film. You can listen to it here, at least until 11 June, as this is a link to the most recent show rather than a permanent link. Soon as the BBC sticks up a permanent link, it'll put it in the Media section.
4 June: The Quare Fellow has opened and is in the middle of its run. It's got positive reviews in the FT, The Guardian and The Stage. Meanwhile, Kathy's next play has been announced. She'll be directing the European premiere of Sam Shepard's The God Of Hell at the Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden, between 20 October and 3 December.
The black comedy, described by Shepard as "a take-off on Republican fascism", follows dairy farmers Frank and Emma, who led an uneventful life until a mysterious man starts hiding in their basement and a government official knocks at their door.
Sam Shepard has written 45 plays (11 of which have won Obie Awards) including True West, Fool for Love and A Lie of the Mind (Donmar) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child, recently at the NT. He also wrote the screenplay for Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
11 May: Some more details on the upcoming re-run of The Quare Fellow at The Tricycle in Kilburn, courtesy of the Oxford Stage Company. Running from 25 May to 2 July, as previously mentioned. Directed by Kathy, obviously. Original music by ex-Pogues guitarist Philip Chevron.
Actors are (big cast): Sean Gallagher (TV’s Linda Green), Sean Campion (Stones in his Pockets), Jason Kavanagh (Brookside), Kieran Cunningham (Speed the Plow at Contact), Tony Rohr (TV’s The Lakes and The Weir), David Ganly (John Bull’s Other Island), Noel McAlley, Ciaran McIntyre (Dancing at Lughnasa - UK tour), Nick Danan (This Lime Tree Bower, Belgrade Theatre Coventry), Matthew Dunphy (The Lieutenant of Inishmore), Gary Lilburn (The Weir at the Royal Court), Patrick Lynch (Juno & the Paycock, Abbey Theatre Dublin), Paul Lloyd (The Cripple of Inishmaan at Leicester Haymarket), Christopher Logan (professional debut), Gerard Rooney (Rough Beginnings at Lyric Theatre Belfast), Jay Simpson (Mother Clap’s Molly House at the National) and Oengus MacNamara (The Playboy of the Western World, Manchester Royal Exchange).
All performances at 8pm. Mid-week matinees 2pm and on Sat 4pm. Tickets prices: Mon and mid-week - £8.50. Tue/Wed and Sat matinee - £13. Thu/Fri - £15. Sat - £18.
Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JR. Box Office: 020 7328 1000
If you want to learn alot more about The Quare Fellow, including a biog of Brendan Behan, a first-person account of how the jails were at the time and much more on the play, you can download a big pdf file [pdf] with it all in at the Oxford Stage Company's website, or I have stuck a copy on this website here [pdf].
2 March: Kathy's production of Behan's The Quare Fellow is to get a second run at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London. She took the classic play about prison on a UK tour between February and May last year to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. Now, a year on, it's back at the Tricycle from 25 May to 2 July. Tickets will be on sale from midnight tonight.
24 February: Blue/Orange is to finish its Sheffield run this weekend and then move onto Northampton, Brighton and finally Cambridge, full details below. Coincidentally, a televised version of the play featuring the terrific John Simm, Shaun Parkes and Brian Cox was shown last night (23 Feb) at 9pm on BBC4. It is pretty good, although you always lose something when plays are put on TV because the immediate connection with the actors is lost.
19 January: Kathy is the main voiceover on a Tesco ad at the moment which is being heavily played on ITV. She stars as Carrie the shopping trolley [geddit?] who warns the other shopping trolleys that Tesco is now offering a credit card. The idea is that somehow that the trolleys should fear for their jobs, although that logic only stands up to about two seconds scrutiny, but hey in ad world... David Jason and Penelope Keith voiceover two other trollies but our Kath is the lead.
There's another two in the £10 million campaign apparently. One about the supermarket's personal loans and the other covering its car insurance services. It won't be a huge CV winner but then Tesco does pay exceedingly well, or is that another ad campaign? Dudley Moore got £1 million all those years ago when he was looking for a chicken and kept coming across other super products that Tesco coincidentally sold.
Anyway, if you really, desperately want to see the ad, you can view it in Quicktime by clicking on this highlighted bit of text titled 'Off your Trolley'.
18 January: Dates are out for Blue/Orange at The Crucible in Sheffield. Kathy is directing the play from 2 to 26 February. You can find out more and book tickets on the theatre's website. Set in a London psychiatric hospital. Christopher claims he is the son of the late Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin and that oranges are blue. Set against the backdrop of a crumbling National Health Service, this edgy comedy examines the unspoken politics of institutions, challenges assumptions about 'normality' and questions whether 'sanity' is dependent on the colour of your skin.
20 October: Kathy is directing the new play by Nick Stafford, Love Me Tonight, at the Hampstead Theatre, London from 21 October to 20 November. Starring Amanda Abbington, Linda Bassett, Hugh Ross and Nicolas Tennant, the play is about a family trying to find lost love with one another after the funeral of its youngest son. For more information and to buy tickets, go to the Hampstead Theatre's website here.
To promote the play, Kathy has embarked on another press tour and a new piece by the Telegraph has been added to the media section in which she reveals that the acting bug has still to bite her, years after she gave it up to concentrate on directing.
20 May: Kathy is to direct the regional premiere of psychiatric drama Blue/Orange at the Sheffield Crucible in the New Year. The play, by Joe Penhall, is set in a London mental hospital, and stars an enigmatic patient who claims to be the son of exiled African dictator Idi Amin. As the play progresses, this apparent delusion becomes unnervingly plausible. It's an incendiary tale about race and madness and has won three awards for Best Play since it was first aired in London in 2000 - the Olivier Award, Critics' Circle award and Evening Standard award.
3 February: Media section updated with an interesting interview with Kathy about The Quare Fellow and her approach to directing, posted on the York Theatre Royal website. Plus an Observer piece written by Kathy herself about the project got off the ground (note the imaginative subs who used the same headline "Kathy comes home" as an Observer feature almost exactly two years ago).
24 January: Kathy is touring the country with her direction of Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow. Starting at the Liverpool Playhouse on 12 February and ending at the Tricycle Theatre in London on 8 May, it is a 50th anniversary production of Behan's classic comedy-drama.
Set in an Irish prison, the play follows the inmates, wardens and the quare fellow as his hour approaches. Performed by the Oxford Stage Company, it is the first time in 20 years that this masterpiece has been on the stage.
Full details below. Click on the theatre website for more details and to buy tickets online:
6 December: KathyBurke.co.uk goes live on the Internet, featuring a biography of Kathy plus a comprehensive run down of her career so far plus links to articles written about her and several interviews available to listen to online.
29 April: Kathy's latest play, Born Bad, opens at the Hampstead Theatre. Written by Debbie Tucker Green, Born Bad is an intense play centering on a black family forced to confront one sister's nasty secret over the course of an evening. Described by The Guardian as equivalent to swallowing a "scalding cup of triple espresso in one gulp". Stars Jenny Jules, Nadine Marshall, Alibe Parsons, Nicholas Pinnock, Ewart James Walters and Sharlene Whyte.
14 January: Kathy has a guest appearance in Paul Whitehouse's comedy Happiness as herself. The comic tale of a man approaching 40 whose wife has recently died, Danny Spencer (Whitehouse) is the voice of a kid's cartoon bear called Dexter. This is the first episode of the second series and sees Spencer continue his mid-life crisis with an unsuccessful blind date and a visit to a cool London club. Kathy appears playing successful actress Kathy Burke, loved by all, but a stroppy and demanding cow when she turns up in person to lend her voice to a guest-star cartoon character.
14 December: Kathy is awarded Best Comedy Actress of the year for Gimme Gimme Gimme at the British Comedy Awards. She creates quite a stir with her acceptance speech, instantly beamed to millions of viewers and just passed by the 9pm watershed. "Thank you very much. This is nice, it's about fucking time. Gimme Gimme Gimme has won fuck all." She then told the "Groucho Club" media types "I couldn't give a shit about any of you." Host Jonathan Ross quipped: "If only they had the courage to put this out live." Vintage Burke.
22 November: Anita and Me goes on general release. Adapted from the bestselling novel by Meera Syal, this film covers the growing up of young Indian girl Meena (Chandeep Uppal) in a small English village in the 1970s. Meena soon starts to idolise 14-year-old local Anita Rutter (Anna Brewster) and gets herself in a few scrapes while trying to impress her. Kathy stars as Anita's vicious mother.
29 August: The latest film by Shane Meadows, Once Upon A Time in the Midlands, starring Kathy as Carol goes on general release. Filmed in Meadows' home city of Nottingham between September and October 2001, the film is an updated homage to Sergio Leone's legendary Western Once Upon a Time in the West. Kathy plays the sister of the main character Jimmy (Robert Carlyle) who arrives back in town to win the hand of his old girlfriend Shirely (Shirley Henderson). Ricky Tomlinson starring as Carol's estranged husband and Rhys Ifans plays the unlucky loser in love. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer pop up as kung-fu clowns.
9 July: Doors open to Karen McLachlan's play Betty at the Vaudeville Theatre. Directed by Kathy, Betty sees Geraldine McNulty play devout and repressed middle-aged woman who accidentally finds love in her washing machine's spin cycle. She then heads off on a bizarre journey of discovery as she tries to break her addiction to the mechanical marvel.