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Catherine Tate: Taking Her Seriously
Written & published: December 2006

Art imitating life, life imitating art

Catherine Tate is an actress and comedian who broke through into mainstream success in early 2004 with her series The Catherine Tate Show. Drawing on the reality of the people she observed around her as well as her own personality, she created characters which quickly fed back into daily life, their catchphrases being spoken and idiosyncrasies recognised the country over.

Astrology suggests that if we're especially interested in some part of the world around us, it reflects a part of our psyche in some way. The characters an actress or actor plays, or that a comedian creates, can be found in her or his birth chart.

In both these ways Catherine Tate's art and life blend and intertwine. Here is her birth chart:

Catherine Tate Birth Chart

Catherine Tate's birth chart - no birth time available - Moon's degree and aspects must therefore be treated with caution

In several interviews, both in print and on television, Catherine has expressed an interest in astrology, remarking that she would have liked to have studied it and perhaps practised it professionally. Presumably she knows her chart quite well but in searching the web there was no reference to her birth time or her Ascendant sign, so in this article we will exclude those parts of the chart that we cannot calculate without this information.

Will the real Catherine Tate please stand up

Before having her own comedy series Catherine was a stand-up comedian, performing her own routines on stage for around five years. She originally took it up because she had noticed that it was a successful route into television:

"I knew I had this talent for comedy, but I wasn’t getting the parts. Then I saw that lots of stand-ups were getting picked, so I thought, 'I can do that'"

The roots of her ability to portray characters that connect with her audience go still deeper.
When she was young, Catherine realised she could influence other people's attention using humour:

"When I was young, though I was shy I was a bit flamboyant and that used to make people laugh, which was important at a self-conscious age. And I realised that if you get yourself labelled as the funny one people don't look any further. I've used that as I've got older. It's controlling: I decide what part of my personality you're seeing, I make the decisions on your behalf. I don't want you to look at me, I really don't. I don't want you to comment on my clothes, or my hair, or the way I look."

Turning to her natal chart, we can see this in her Taurus-Scorpio-Leo T-square involving the Sun, Jupiter, and Neptune, and possibly the Moon (depending on her birthtime). The flamoyant entertainer side is symbolised by Jupiter in Leo, and the controlling side is the Taurus and Scorpio planets. Neptune and Scorpio both have a desire to be invisible, whereas the Sun and Jupiter desire high visibility, so Catherine has found a creative way of using her T-square combination.

Central to her T-square is the Sun in Taurus. The Sun is not only in opposition to Neptune, but trine to Tate's Uranus-Pluto conjunction. This reinforces the desire to be hidden and in charge, and adds the ability to reinvent and express new facets of her character as a way of doing this.

Pursuing the Taurus-Scorpio themes further, and also reflecting the Uranus-Pluto configuration, Tate has explained in various interviews how she experienced a sort of obsessive-compulsive thinking pattern during her childhood which has carried on in some specific ways into her adult life. In an interview she said:

"I couldn't have a jumper on the floor when I went to bed because my mum's name is Josephine - it begins with J, so that was my mum lying on the floor."

In contrast, Catherine pointed out that she has a 'lazy' side, a side that doesn't care about things, reminiscent of many of her characters which combine relentless intensity giving way - or sometimes crashing into - complete disinterest (albeit sometimes feigned, as in her schoolgirl character Lauren, originally known as 'Fly Girl'). Again, this can all be traced to her Taurus-Leo-Scorpio planets, most of which are arranged in a T-Square.

Positively negative

Another expression of her T-square planets can be found in one of Tate's habits - indeed talents: taking something negative and turning it into something positive by using it in a humorous fashion or context. For instance, commenting on her demeanor, she said:

"People often think I'm really brooding over how I'm going to exact revenge on someone but usually I'm actually thinking what I would have as my desert island dessert - meringue or Häagen Daz ice cream? It takes up a lot of my time."

This is classic Taurus-Scorpio, which relates to the surface and the deep respectively. Brooding over something, or the appearance of brooding, is very Scorpionic, and the Taurus is used to refocus on the shallower (but essential) pleasures of life. There is a theme of enjoyment (Taurus) versus inner conflict (Scorpio) being played out here.

Here are some quotes from Catherine illustrating this same way of dealing with negatives by wringing the humour out of them, showing how she expresses her T-square planets in her life:

"Nothing prompts creativity like poverty, a feeling of hopelessness and a bit of panic."

"At my core, the glass isn't half-empty, it's not even what I ordered in the first place."

During most of the day that Catherine was born, Mercury was in septile aspect with Saturn. This aspect shows a capacity to use negative thoughts and speech in an inspiring way. If present, it would also back up the tendency to notice what's lacking and to think in rigidly and persistently. In several of her comedy characters there is a repetition of speech and thought that could well be related to this aspect, but as explained we need to exercise caution because the aspect was only within orb from 6am on the day Catherine was born.

Eight parts recognition, one part shock, one part exaggeration

Tate gives her recipe for comedy as 'eight parts recognition, one part shock, and one part exaggeration.' Recognition, shock and exaggeration are all easily located in her birth chart:
  • Recognition - Solar configuration, Jupiter in Leo
  • Shock - Sun aspecting Uranus & Pluto, the Scorpio planets
  • Exaggeration - Jupiter in Leo
Much of the humour in The Catherine Tate Show is based on amplifying the normally small moments of daily life where due to social decorum and mutual respect, people hold in thoughts, feelings, and behaviour that part of them would rather let out. Speaking the normally unspeakable, doing the normally undoable, saying what would be offensive to say out loud, is at the heart of many of the characters.

Causing offence and being on the receiving end of offence features in various sketches. It is often an overreaction or a - sometimes deliberate -  misunderstanding which triggers a relentless interrogation, rant, mickey-taking, or which simply features in a story being told. Other times the characters say what many of us would love to say but daren't.

There is a frequent swing between playing it calm and cool, covering up the intense feelings - hurt and disappointment usually - underneath, and then having it all burst out, before returning to calmness again. Moving from the veneer of social niceties to an outburst of anger, panic, or indignation is central to several characters.

Breaking through taboos and crossing lines not normaly crossed, or, alternatively, embodying social hypocrisy (sometimes blatantly and shamelessly) and displaying it writ large is where a lot of the humour lies, and we find it funny because we see ourselves in it, and it is Catherine Tate's role as an actress and comedian to mirror us (Sun opposite Neptune, Moon conjunct Neptune).

There is a rhythm and pattern to the characters and scenarious that are portrayed. Taken as a whole, they put us in touch with the parts of us we would prefer to ignore, suppress, or deny. All of this is symbolised by the Taurus-Leo-Scorpio planets in Catherine's chart working with the Uranus-Pluto in Virgo and her Mercury-Mars in Gemini.

The producer of The Catherine Tate Show, Geoffrey Perkins, has, unbeknownst to him, summed up Catherine's main chart features
:

"She has described herself as a lazy control freak [Taurus-Scorpio, Sun-Jupiter-Neptune configuration, Sun-Uranus-Pluto configuration]. But when the time comes to do it, she changes. Her brain moves incredibly fast [Mercury conjunct Mars in Gemini] when she's performing, she's completely focused [Taurus-Scorpio, the Virgo planets, Mercury septile Saturn]."


Success and depression

Here is the birth chart for The Catherine Tate Show:

The Catherine Tate Show Birth Chart

Just before her own show began Catherine gave birth to a child. Unfortunately, the birth was followed by post-natal depression. The preponderance of Pluto and Scorpio planets - which include the Moon, symbolising motherhood and the mother-child relationship - indicate a theme of needing to deal with the deeper, darker side of human nature.

It is these Scorpionic depths that give birth to something new and pleasing - the Taurus side of the T-square - but the process can be heavy-going and intense, necessitating an inner struggle (Scorpio).

During the filming of the first series of The Catherine Tate Show, when the post-natal depression held sway, transiting Pluto was in septile to Catherine's Sun. It then moved into a quincunx with her Sun and a trine to her Saturn, as transiting Saturn semi-squared her Sun at the same time. These aspects lasted throughout the launch of the first series. Looking at them symbolically we could describe them as a darkening of the light, a dark night of the soul - the Sun emits light, of course, and Saturn and Pluto have always been associated with darkness and blackness. It's no wonder that, as one interviewer reported:

"The problem was that people kept telling Tate how lucky she was, having a beautiful baby and a massive career break. "I felt so guilty about not enjoying it all.""

(Of course there were other transits present at that time, but for reasons of space it's not possible to go into them - the omission isn't meant to imply a simplification of such a complex issue and experience.)

Taking her seriously

Having attained success with her comedy, Catherine has recently been making films: Sixty Six, Starter For Ten, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Mrs Ratcliffe's Revolution, and Love and Other Disasters. Last year she was in a West End play with David Schwimmer, and in Christmas 2006 she co-starred in an episode of Dr Who.

The desire to be taken seriously as an actress is of course a common trait in artists and performers. But with her Taurus-Scorpio planets, her Sun configured with Pluto in Virgo, and the possibility of her Mercury in septile to Saturn, there is in Catherine Tate an intense commitment not only to expressing herself but to honing her talent over the long-term.

While she has disclaimed career ambition, her chart suggests a 'force of nature' type of drive lies beneath an unassuming and often reticent exterior. The final word goes to her producer, Geoffrey Perkins:

"She can appear quiet but you mustn't underestimate her. When she's focused on something, she's a tour de force."

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