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Gay Times July 12 - Issue 408


Walking And Talking with Kathy Burke

Think of Kathy Burke and you’ll most likely recall the wonder of Linda La Hughes in Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. But, in a case of life imitating art, there’s another Tom she shared a house with – and now they’re sharing the screen too in her new Sky Atlantic series Walking and Talking.


The four episodes – a continuation of Kathy’s 2010 Little Cracker for Sky1 – tell the tale of Ms Burke’s teenage years and the people she encounters. Including a gentleman named Icarus…
“She did write the part with me in mind, which is an incredible honour, ‘cos, as well as being her mate, I’ve been a fan of hers for years. She’s my favourite actress, possibly my favourite actor,” Tom Stuart explains before Kathy joins us.
“It’s funny, I’ve wanted to be an actor ever since I can remember but there was a play with Miss Kathy Burke... called It’s a Great Big Shame, a Mike Leigh play at the Theatre Royal in Stratford East. I think I must’ve been 11 and my mum and dad took me to see it and she was extraordinary in it. I hadn’t seen her on the television or anything at that time. It was incredible, it kinda confirmed for me, that it was definitely something I wanted to do and that is what I wanted to be.”
So it’s her fault?
“Yes it’s all her fucking fault. So it’s got a very full circle motion to it, so now I die.”
Friends for 11 years (or 10, they can’t remember) they met when Tom was in his final year at drama school and Kathy, being friends with his sister, came to see a play he was in. He needed somewhere to crash for a couple of months and stayed for four and half years. Now 31 (and no longer living at Chez Burke), Tom’s just finished filming Michael Winterbottom’s new movie King Of Soho.
But before that viewers will see him taking a lead role in Walking and Talking as a former lover of writer Joe Orton.
“I think one of the biggest things is that he’s an outsider and the significant parts I’ve played have always been outsiders, because I was such a massive outsider in school as a kid and I can relate to that.
“I loved acting and drama in a school where you were meant to like football, I grew up in the rough of it in an East London school and didn’t fit in well. Kath always says, not to pre-empt what she says, that this episode is like a love letter to the gays. I’m so proud to be part of that and I’m gay myself. I don’t think she wrote the part for me because I’m gay…”
Is the character of Icarus based on real-life events?
“No I think she made it up, she’s just plucked it out her arse really,” he jokes.

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Words: Darren Scott

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