Notwithstanding a couple of specials for her foul-mouthed Nan character and repeats, The Catherine Tate Show hasn’t been seen on television since 2007, so this new live show incarnation is asking a fair bit of an audience’s recollection.
Catherine Tate ***
Bolshie schoolgirl Lauren once performed a sketch with Tony Blair for Comic Relief. Yet here Tate borrowed Matt Lucas’ “yes but no but ...” catchphrase from Little Britain for her - a knowing nod to interviewer Charlie Stayt’s recent confusion of the two on BBC Breakfast.
Tate herself fluffed her lines on a number of occasions but amusingly rolled with the cock-ups, ably supported by long-time co-star Mat Horne, new writing partner Brett Goldstein and Niky Wardley.
This is a show that improves dramatically as it goes on, because frankly, it has to. Inexplicably, it opens with Tate as Irish nurse Bernie, inappropriately flirting with a patient’s son (Horne) with leaden innuendo, reaching its nadir with the hirsute Goldstein’s arrival in drag and dodgy Irish accent.
Without television’s snappy cutting, the show as a whole lacks strong punchlines to close sketches and the cast endure long, twirling dances to distract from this as they get off stage.
Fortunately, there are some amusing pre-filmed inserts featuring Tate and Goldstein as sound technicians and another with Nan bewildering the game Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw.
The show really picks up in the second half, with furiously in-denial gay pensioner Derek flouncing with amusingly aggrieved affront, and Nan bringing the curtain down with the help of Scottish comedy royalty.