From Game of Thrones to Coronation Street, Leeds-born actor Kate Anthony has become a familiar face on screen and stage. JLife’s Evangeline Spachis chatted to the London-based thesp.
“I blame her and so do my parents,” jokes Kate Anthony, when speaking of Vanessa Rosenthal, the prolific playwright and writer who nudged Kate in the direction of drama school: “I was quite a shy child and it was never really something that appealed to me. After I took my A-levels, I took a year out and enrolled at Park Lane College where I met Vanessa.” It was there that Kate was encouraged to pursue her new-found love of acting and apply for the Webber Douglas Academy for Dramatic Art, which included the likes of Angela Lansbury, Julian Fellowes and Terence Stamp in its alumni.
“One of my first jobs was working with Dame Judi Dench in a production of The Cherry Orchard which was phenomenal”, Kate tells me, “I was very lucky to have done that in such an early part of my career, and when you work with somebody like that as a young person and have those influences for eight or so months, you do admire their massive talent, generosity, humour and professionalism. She was a joy, and that’s happened throughout my career – you get to work with some phenomenal actors. You think, ‘wow, I’m sat next to Pete Poselthwaite at a read-through, that’s impressive!’”
Kate is probably best known for playing Auntie Pam on Coronation Street for four years, and has an enviable CV of roles in British TV shows for over 25 years, ranging from roles in comedy dramas such as As Time Goes By and Father Brown to more recent guest spots on Holby City.
Kate recently finished filming Good Omens, the much-anticipated adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. Filming her scenes in Chichester alongside Josie Lawrence and Jack Whitehall, Kate had a great opportunity to really get her teeth into the role: “I was playing a 1640s witch finder which was quite good fun – mad, weird and brilliant. A really bonkers part and she was properly mad. It’s so nice to be able to do something like that.”
Filming doesn’t finish until March, but the big-budget Amazon and BBC show is expected to be on our screens in late 2018. It was a glossy TV shooting experience Kate has become all too used to, as in 2016, Kate was called up for a small role in the sixth series of TV phenomenon Game of Thrones: “It was a very similar experience again as it was a little bit bonkers to say the least. Especially as I had never seen an episode and didn’t know anything about it.
“When you go for Game of Thrones, they call your agents and ask to see you and it’s all very hush hush. And the part of the script I was given in the interview was actually nothing to do with the part that I would actually be filming. It was so secretive.
“My agent explained that she didn’t actually know what the part was but that the producers did want me for it, and my daughter Lola, who was 15 at the time, just said to me, ‘promise me you’re not going to be naked!’”
It brought a whole new side to the fame game too, as binge-watching and consuming television in our own time becomes the norm, Kate now gets recognised at the most unexpected of times: “In London, you’d get people in the supermarket going ‘hi, how are you?’ and I’d say ‘hi’ back, but after the third or fourth time of this happening, they’d come back to me and say ‘I’m so sorry, I’ve just realised who you are and I thought I knew you. I didn’t realise you were on Coronation Street!’”
Being part of the street for four years undoubtedly raised Kate’s profile, especially in Manchester and back in Leeds: “The amount of people who watched it and love it is amazing. It’s fantastic to say that I was part of it, even for a little time.”
Speaking of joining established and long-running productions such as Holby City or Casualty, Kate revealed: “Everyone knows each other and you’re coming in for maybe just one or two episodes so you’ve got to be on their wavelength and work the way they work. But because I’ve done it so often now, I’ve sort of managed to click into it, work with some really lovely people and then leave, and I quite like that.
“There are very few actors who work with the same people for years on end, and most actors work with different sets of people and you move on to other jobs. I quite like the fact that I can go off and do different things.”
“People ask me if I like TV, theatre or radio best and I can never pin one down as they are all so different. I love doing television, but equally, it’s great when you’re in the theatre and you get to perform and feel the audience reacting and telling that story from beginning to end.”
Kate’s parents still reside in Alwoodley, which means that Kate still has strong ties to the setting of her formative years, and tells me that she always refers to Leeds as “home”, much to the amused confusion of her two children, Lola and Nathan: “I do still get up to Leeds because I have a lot of family there. My best friend is Ira Silverman who runs Ira B’s on Street Lane, so I try to come back when I can. Leeds has certainly changed a lot since I left it’s unrecognisable now and looks fantastic.”
“When I was doing Corrie I did a few charity things for the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board mainly because I was up there, but it’s hard with me not living nearby. I still feel very much part of the community though and it’s very much part of me. I work a lot up north, often in Manchester at the BBC or The Lowry, so if I am working close to home I tend to stay at mum and dads.”
And how does her faith fit around her busy schedule of lights, camera and action? Well, Kate explains, all it takes is a sympathetic rabbi and a considerate agent: “It’s sort of just part of me really, and it fits well with work, unless it’s on a Friday or Saturday which is going to be inevitable. I go to a synagogue in Ealing and our rabbi is really understanding.
My son was Bar Mitzvah in February and I did have tell my agent to make sure I was not booked in for anything the week before as that would have been really tricky!”