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The former 'Doctor Who' companion discusses her acting career and speculates on the fate of Donna Noble.

Awesome Con Q&A: Catherine Tate on Her Time on Doctor Who and Her Career

Photo of Catherine Tate
Courtesy of Awesome Con

Catherine Tate visited Awesome Con in Washington, D.C., on the weekend of June 16. The actress and comedian is perhaps best known for her role as companion Donna Noble in Doctor Who. She was hoping to avoid science fiction questions at Saturday’s Q&A, having an answer prepared in advance: “My character’s memory got wiped, so how should I know?”

Fans were curious about what became of Donna after she won the lottery at the end of her character arc. “I imagine she didn’t invest it in business,” Tate replied. “I imagine she probably, to be honest, spent it quite quickly, and is back temping in Chiswick! She had a great run of it while she could!”

Since her time on the Doctor Who television series, Tate has been involved in a number of projects in audio dramas, theater, and comedy. She returned to the role of Donna for a Doctor Who audio program, which was a different experience than being on television. There was no need to go into make-up and other practical considerations. “It was surprisingly easy and a lovely experience to do the audio, because in the audio, I don’t have to actually run. I hate the running!” she explained. On location for filming the TV series, her co-star David Tennant “was like a whippersnapper: ‘Let’s run all the time. It doesn’t matter!'”

Aspiring actors asked Tate for advice and how she stayed the course early on in her acting career. One of her biggest influences was the celebrated actress, Imelda Staunton, who paid a visit to Tate’s class when she was in drama school. She recalled that Staunton said to the group, “There’ll come a time where you think it’s not going to happen for you. And what you have to remember is that it’s someone else’s time and your time will come.”

Tate auditioned for parts that ultimately went to her former drama school classmates. One phone call bearing bad news was difficult to take. She happened to be in a department store, by the beds section, and she took a moment to lie down on a bed. Things turned around for her when she changed gears in her approach to her career. “What switched it for me was I started writing my own stuff and I started creating my own work. Because then you’re in control.”

Tate is an accomplished comedian, with the highly successful Catherine Tate Show that ran on BBC Two from 2004 to 2007. Last year, she brought back those characters for a live tour in theaters across the U.K. “I was petrified to do it because I’ve not done my comedy to a crowd for a long time,” she said of the experience. “I would go out in the crowd. It was different every night. I’d bring people up on stage. I liked that there was a danger in the room. No one knows. It could all go to shit, but it’s such fun. I love it! Of course, I did write stuff as well.”

While it seems that Catherine Tate’s time on Doctor Who is done, fans can still look forward to seeing her on a new leg of her comedy tour. Tate anticipates that this round of theater stops will include cities beyond the U.K. If you miss these opportunities to see her live, the show footage will be released on DVD in the coming months.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros earned a B.A. in Art History on a full scholarship at the University of Virginia. Pat is a frequent reviewer of all things Washington, D.C., but she's also been known to cover events in Canada and London. Her blogging adventures include Jeopardy! and the 2018 Stanley Cup finals as well as interviews with Tony Bennett, Kiefer Sutherland, and Ndaba Mandela (Nelson Mandela's grandson). At 2017 Awecome Con, Pat moderated a Q&A for voice actors Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat.

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