Catherine Tate’s life off-screen from health condition, engagement and Doctor Who role

Catherine Tate returns as Donna Noble in Doctor Who special The Star Beast, as she reunites with the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.

The last time she was seen, Donna's mind was wiped in order to protect her from knowledge that would destroy her.

In the new instalment, Donna recognises the Toymaker (played by Neil Patrick Harris) from her travels with the Doctor. The pair reunite but the Time Lord panics Donna may remember her past and she could die.

As Catherine returns to Doctor Who, OK! takes a look at her life off-screen.

Early life

Catherine Jane Ford, born on December 5 1969, is the daughter of Josephine, a florist. She was raised in London by her mum, grandma and godparents after her dad left when she was just a baby.

At school, Catherine discovered her love for acting and decided that this was what she wanted to do. She left school without taking her A-levels to chase her dream.

She tried to get into Central School of Speech and Drama three times but didn't make it until her fourth try.

Health condition

As a little girl, Catherine had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and was particularly obsessed with word association. For instance, she couldn't leave a jumper on the floor because it might bring bad luck to her mum, whose name also started with "J".

With time and support, Catherine managed to overcome her difficulties. She found her own identity and voice while attending St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School in Holborn, and Notre Dame High School, a girls' convent school in Southwark.

Early career

When she started her career, Catherine changed her name when she got her Equity card. She became known professionally as Catherine Tate, named after Jessica Tate from the US sitcom Soap.

Best known for her work on the iconic Catherine Tate Show and Doctor Who, started her showbiz journey on the theatre stage in 1988. She toured the country with the National Youth Theatre production of Blood Wedding, alongside Hollywood actor Daniel Craig and Spaced star Jessica Hynes.

In addition to numerous theatre roles, Catherine also began appearing on TV in serial dramas like The Bill and London's Burning. In 1996, she started taking stand-up comedy more seriously, making people laugh with her irreverent humour and daring alter-egos.

Her big break came in 1998 on Barking, a Channel 4 late-night comedy show that also featured stars including David Walliams, Peter Kay and Mackenzie Crook. From there, her career truly took off, with appearances on TV, stage and the UK comedy circuit at festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe.

It was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that a BBC commissioner spotted her and encouraged her to keep developing her ideas, particularly her teenage character Lauren Cooper. Following his advice, by 2004 The Catherine Tate show finally appeared on our screens, cementing Catherine in the hearts of viewers everywhere.

Doctor Who and Hollywood roles

Catherine's big break came when she scored the role of Donna Noble, acting alongside David Tennant in Doctor Who back in 2006.

As the new companion to the time-travelling doctor, Catherine's cheeky humour and comedic timing shone, while also delivering emotional performances in more dramatic scenes.

After becoming a household name, Catherine tried her hand at Hollywood, starring in popular films like Starter for Ten with James McAvoy and the animated hit Monster Family. She even landed a role in the US version of The Office!


Fans often wonder if Catherine is married. The much-loved comedian isn't currently married, but she is engaged to her long-term partner Jeff Gutheim, a screenwriter who proposed in 2019.

Jeff and Catherine found love after the end of Jeff's 19-year marriage to his ex-wife Tracey, with whom he has three children. The couple now live together in the US and are happily planning their wedding.

Catherine is a proud mum to a 20 year old daughter, Erin, whom she had with her former partner, stage manager Twig Clark, in January 2003. Catherine and Twig were together for nine years between 2002 and 2011 before they decided to split.

* This article was crafted with the help of an AI engine, which speeds up OK!'s editorial research and applies it to article templates created by journalists in our newsrooms. An OK! editor reviewed this content before it was published. You can report any errors to [email protected]

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