Catherine Tate was upending any patronising sentiment regarding “little old ladies” with her badly behaved Nan character.
Nan’s beige cardie has almost magical transformative powers. With that cardie on, the 45-year-young, glamorous comedian Catherine Tate becomes a cackling East End harridan with a filthy line in cockney put-downs.
Joannie “Nan” Taylor first appeared as a sketch in The Catherine Tate Show nearly a decade ago and now she was back for Catherine Tate’s Nan (Sat), a one-off (alas) special episode. Most of this year’s Christmas comedy specials have felt like barrel-scraping, but Nan could easily hold her own in a full series.
Grandson Jamie (Mathew Horne) was off do-gooding at an orphanage in Africa, or “on his holidays” as Nan preferred to style it, which meant there was no one around to fix her wonky tap. So, with a schoolgirl volunteer from one of those Help the Aged-type buddying schemes in tow, Nan went to the council office where she butted heads with a sour-faced jobsworth who had a sign decrying abusive language. Nan’s response? “Try not to be such a difficult cow, love, then you wouldn’t need a sign.”
Nan is no anti-ageism champion, however, and just when we were moved to cheer on her bolshiness, she offered up a racist and/or rude remark. Her entirely blameless victims included the new neighbours, Jamie’s African friend, whom she dubbed variously “Um Bongo” and “Kajagoogoo”, or the slightly chubby woman in front of her in the queue: “Go on, move along, love, ain’t you gotta go and ’ave a big fat Gypsy wedding?”
In a closing scene, Nan almost redeemed herself, by inviting everyone back to her’s for an impromptu wedding party, replete with a performance from a sitar-wielding Indo-Cockney act Raz n Dave, but even on her best behaviour, Nan couldn’t quite get to the end of a sentence without a few swears. She was just irrepressible and that’s why we love her.