Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 17:17 UK

Theatre too expensive, says Tate

Tate said so-called 'stunt casting' did theatre 'a great disservice'

Costly tickets make theatre "elitist", Doctor Who star Catherine Tate has warned as she prepares to tread the boards again in London's West End.

"If you want more people to come to the theatre, don't put the prices at £50," she told the BBC.

The TV actress said she would "happily" take a pay cut if it meant more people could afford to see her on stage.

"You have to make theatre inclusive, and at the moment the prices are exclusive," she continued.

Tate is currently rehearsing her new play Under the Blue Sky, which begins previews next week at London's Duke of York's theatre.

First staged at the Royal Court in 2000, David Eldridge's play casts her as a teacher who has a fling with one of her colleagues.

You have to make theatre inclusive, and at the moment the prices are exclusive
Catherine Tate

Her co-stars include Francesca Annis and Chris O'Dowd, from Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd.

Tate's comments coincided with the publication of a Society of London Theatre report that reveals the West End had its most successful year in 2007.

The 40-year-old was last seen on the London stage in 2005 alongside former Friends star David Schwimmer in the play Some Girls.

'Gimmicky'

Tate, who played Doctor Who's assistant Donna Noble in the most recent series of the hit BBC One series, admitted her small-screen profile had probably been a factor in her landing her current role.

However, she questioned the casting of celebrities on their name value alone.

"Putting [TV stars] in plays just to get people in is wrong," she said. "You have to have the right people in the right parts.

"Stunt casting and being gimmicky does the theatre a great disservice.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Doctor Who
The actress played Donna Noble in the fourth Doctor Who series
"You have to lure people by getting them excited about a theatrical experience," continued Tate.

As much as she enjoyed making The Catherine Tate Show, its star said she was keen to "do different things".

"What I don't want to do is say 'Am I bovvered?' for the rest of my career," she said, citing her schoolgirl character Lauren's celebrated catchphrase.

The actress also admitted she did not watch the Doctor Who finale last Saturday, opting to see country singer Dolly Parton in concert instead.

"I didn't watch it go out with the country at large but I did see it a few days before," she said.


SEE ALSO
London theatres' 'best ever year'
08 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Who actors launch fourth series
02 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Friends star makes West End debut
24 May 05 |  Entertainment

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