Last night's season finale of The Office featured a packed roster of celebrity guest stars. Ricky Gervais, Jim Carrey, Ray Romano, James Spader, Will Arnett, and even Warren Buffett all interviewed to be Steve Carell's replacement on the show. Not surprisingly, none of them got the job (they're all far too famous and busy for a regular gig on a NBC sitcom). But interestingly, it wasn't one of these heavyweights who stole the show. The episode's funniest guest star was Catherine Tate.
So who is this scene-stealing comedienne?
Though little-known in America, Tate is a hugely popular comedic actress in Britain. She broke out as a cast member in the second series (which, in "British" means season) of the sketch show Big Train. You might also recognize Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg in this clip:
She had role on the short-lived show Wild West, but the immense popularity of Tate's one-woman show and stand-up act led to BBC offering her a variety show. With The Catherine Tate Show, Tate established herself as a versatile comedienne in the vein of Tracey Ullman and Carol Burnett. The show ran for four series (seasons) and earned Tate multiple BAFTA nominations and even an International Emmy Award nomination Best Actress.
Tate's most popular character was the snotty, backtalking teenager Lauren. Lauren's catchphrase, "Am I bovvered?" quickly became ubiquitous. The Oxford English Dictionary even called "bovvered" Word of the Year, and officially entered into the dictionary.
The Catherine Tate Show ended in 2007, though a Christmas special aired in 2009. She soon joined the cast of Doctor Who, starring alongside David Tennant in series four of the show. It's a decidedly more staid performance than the outlandish characters that won her acclaim on her sketch show.
It looked like Tate would get her big break here in the states when she had a supporting role in last year's Gulliver's Travels, starring Jack Black. That film, of course, tanked. Will her brief turn on The Office be the role that leads to her American breakout? If she can find a vehicle as funny as this sketch, then it's just a matter of time: