queen of comedy | 

With so many iconic characters it’s no surprise Katherine Lynch is getting recognised by a whole new generation

‘The world is so crazy — I just want to bring people joy’

Katherine Lynch plays the Wicked Queen in Snow White this panto season

Katherine Lynch in a dazzling design by Claire Garvey Couture as she prepares to play the Wicked Queen in Snow White this panto season

Denise SmithSunday World

Do you ever think of your favourite now defunct sitcom characters, and wonder with affection where they are now?

For comedian, actress, singer and poet, Katherine Lynch, who brought to life mad-cap characters including Sheila Sheikh, country-and-western singer Bernie Walsh, and closet lesbian Liz Hurley, it’s a question she can’t seem to escape.

“Kids are loving (the characters) on TikTok. I have loads of young kids coming up to me and asking, ‘Are you Katherine Lynch?’ I’ll ask them, ‘Does your mam watch me?’ And they’ll say, ‘No, I watch you on TikTok’.

“I think I would bring them all back,” smiles the Leitrim woman conspiratorially.

“Sheila Sheikh, she would have come out of prison, obviously. She’s definitely cancelled and has to rebuild her career. Singer Bernie would be a Senator in the Dáil and I think Liz Hurley would have come out and been delighted with the marriage referendum. She’d probably be on a motorcycle with Samantha Fox.

Katherine Lynch in a dazzling design by Claire Garvey Couture as she prepares to play the Wicked Queen in Snow White this panto season

“There you have it, I’ve pitched a whole new show,” she laughs.

Given was the queen of Irish comedy in the early 2000s, with five hit series on RTÉ and a roster of sell-out shows, isn’t it time the presenter — who famously crashed the Rose of Tralee and chased Ronaldo for a kiss — actually joined TikTok?

“I suppose I need to do that but you know what, sometimes I like to underachieve in peace and maybe those characters need to be left alone. But lately, so many people on the street are asking me when am I bringing them back. We need a bit of joy.

“I look at Twitter and think, ‘Since when are the politicians the people we follow?’ Let’s bring back the entertainers.”

It’s immediately apparent that the former Wagon’s Den host is so much more than her on-screen alter-egos. Gregarious, genuine and incredibly candid, she adds: “I think it’s the balance — when I am not in the armour of the costume, wig and lashes, I retreat into reading and I write poetry and songs.

“People do really like to pigeon-hole you but to have sane mental health, you really have to look at different things that fulfil your mind.”

Looking back on her illustrious career, the performer insists she has more to achieve.

“I have huge gratitude, but I also gave myself a scolding last week because I have to get out and do more. Instead of cranking down, I am going to crank up and get into more movies and stage shows.

“We all had to reinvent ourselves during the pandemic and now that is over we don’t have that excuse anymore and we need to get back out and work like everyone else.”

Part of Katherine’s legacy is that she bulldozed the barriers that stop women from breaking into comedy.

“That would be a lovely thing, to think that I paved the way for women in comedy. I was raised in the gay bars by drag queens and I didn’t realise how bad it was for women,” she reflects.

“When I got Wagon’s Den, we had this thing called the token man and the talking bloke and we tried to turn it on its head.

“Now there are so many women that have trundled ahead of me, so maybe I will be asking for jobs off them soon. Joanne (McNally) is so brave, she’s a real punk, and Emma Doran is amazing.”

As a feminist icon, the star has even been blocked by Piers Morgan on Twitter.

“I want a T-shirt that says ‘Piers Morgan blocked me’,” she cackles. “He had said that the crowd that was chanting about the Queen ‘are just thugs’ and I said, ‘Well, you have been chanting enough about her daughter-in-law, does that make you a thug?’

“He is so mean to Meghan. Any chance he gets he knocks her. I was standing up for women, as usual.”

Right now, there is just one job Katherine is focusing on and that’s her role as the Wicked Queen alongside Sammy Sausages and Buffy in Snow White, which returns this Christmas to Dublin’s National Stadium.

“The world is so crazy at the moment that I am just going to lock myself into this job and bring joy and entertainment.

“I don’t have children but I love children because they just bring so much joy. They are so honest and kind and mischievous — everything I fight to keep within myself. At my age isn’t it great to feel like a child?”

Snow White runs at the National Stadium,Dublin, from December 13, 2022 to January 8, 2023. See panto.ie for tickets

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