Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 11:10 UK

Catherine Tate 'bovvered' by Bard

Catherine Tate as teenager Lauren Cooper
I never thought for a moment that children would pick up on it - but I didn't want her to be a bad child
Catherine Tate on Lauren the teenager

Doctor Who assistant Catherine Tate has gone back in time again to discuss her love of Shakespeare.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) - where she spent a year before her comedy career - invited her to speak to a younger audience at the Hay Festival.

But Tate admitted at the Powys literary festival that she struggled to enjoy the Bard's comedies at times.

"It's got to strike a chord with us. We can't write Shakespeare off but wearing bells on knees isn't going to work."

But she said she had impersonated Sir Ian McKellen in the way he delivered a Shakespearean scene on stage, which helped her finally pass her drama school audition at 21 after a few attempts.

Tate was speaking as part of the RSC's Shakespeare and Me series, as Doctor Who star David Tennant is preparing to play the lead in Hamlet for the company from next month.

About her TV sketch show characters, Tate said she doubted she would bring back teenager Lauren, who was supposedly killed off in a Christmas special - "although they still haven't found a body."

She said Lauren, with the "Am I bovvered?" catchphrase, only came about because she liked to try out and improvise her characters in front of a live audience first - and she got a reaction.

Catherine Tate
Tate's Nan character is known for her foul language

"I don't sit in front of a computer to write," she said of her BBC award-winning Catherine Tate Show.

"I tried her (Lauren) out at the Latchmere Theatre in London with about seven people in the audience. When I said 'Am I bovvered?' about three of the seven tittered, and I repeated it and by the end they were all cackling and I realised they'd picked up on it."

She said she was proud to have Lauren perform a Shakespearean sonnet in a sketch for Comic Relief.

"She used to get so much stick, she was getting the blame for the hoodie culture. I never thought for a moment that children would pick up on it.

"But I didn't want her to be a bad child, I made sure she never swore but I wanted her to be bright if a little bit bolshie."

Tate said her cantankerous Nan character was about the "privilege of old age, you can get away with so much - it's really funny when old people swear."

"That was the most fun, it was a kind of an amalgamation of a lot of old ladies - but not my own Nan, although they way she sits was based on my godmother!

"She always had her handbag by her side and wouldn't let you leave the room without giving you money. She'd hook the bag with her walking stick and take out a fiver!"

On whether she would produce another series she said: "If I have more ideas I will... we need to have some new ideas, then hopefully yes."




SEE ALSO
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17 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
Tate to be Doctor's new companion
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20 Mar 07 |  Entertainment
Tate's Christmas date with the Doctor
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