In the run up to Camp (on the Estate) I'm going to be blogging about some of my favourite council house hero's starting with Kathy Burke.
Burke and I were born in the same hospital and brought up council flats in adjoining boroughs, she is also of Irish decent and went to the same school as my Mum so naturally I feel some sort of affinity with her (as tenuous as it might seem).
Born Katherine Lucy Bridget burke in 1964 she started being funny when she put on shows in her council block for the local kids 'one kid and a dog would turn up'. At 16 she joined Anna Sher Theatre School, soon after she started to appear in a few films which helped subsidised her job at the bakery.
I first remember seeing her on Harry Enfield and Chums in 1994 playing council estate Mum Waynetta from The Slobs, a nickname I then gave to my Mum and Dad because I thought they were similar (my Mum would disagree). I was 9 years old and in awe that Kathy could make my whole family laugh by showing them... well themselves. Many funny people of Kathy's generation recall similar stories of how Morecambe & Wise inspired them to make people laugh - Kathy is my Morecambe & Wise.
When I was about 13, Mum told me she used to know Kathy and would recall how the blokes down the pub would take the piss out of her because she wasn't a conventional beauty. Mum would tell them that one day they wouldn't think it was so funny because it was clear she was 'gonna go far'. Soon after she appeared as Linda in Gimme Gimme Gimme at the time I was getting to grips with my own sexuality and Gimme showed me that being a poof wasn't all about AIDS, getting bullied and your parents disowning you - my love for Kathy grew even stronger.
Since then Kathy has gone on to perform and direct genius nuggets of theatre, film and TV from Nil By Mouth to Walking and Talking - a biopic of her early life in Islington.
I love Kathy because she has integrity, not only in her craft but in herself. She's an inspiration for any council kid wanting to get into showing off. She's unashamedly common and has normalised an accent my Mum attempted to rid me of and she isn't afraid to speak her mind.
Kathy continues to live in Islington giving the local paper exclusive interviews about BAFTA nominations leaving journalists from the nationals in the dark. She's brash, bold, bolshie and has taught me how to laugh at myself.
Kathy is someone I will work with before I die, somehow, somewhere... I promise you.
Camp (on the Estate) runs from 11th - 14th December
More info here