Gimme, Gimme, Gimme star Kathy Burke to direct new Edinburgh Fringe show

Kathy Burke''Pic: Ken McKay/REX/Shutterstock
Kathy Burke''Pic: Ken McKay/REX/Shutterstock
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KATHY BURKE is set to return to the Fringe, but don’t expect to see her on stage.

Now an acclaimed director, the 54-year-old will be here to oversee the opening of Amy Booth-Steel’s new one-woman show, Honest Amy.

Recalling the first time she visited the Fringe as a performer, Burke says, “I was there many, many years ago when I was still acting and performing, but we’re talking last century.

“I remember, the first time I went they said, ‘If you can’t get laid in Edinburgh, you’ll never get laid’.

“That’s what was ringing in my ears as a 18-year-old... Edinburgh is where it might happen’,” she laughs.

As a young actress, Burke appeared here in the play The Boys Next Door and later, with the cabaret group Raw Sex.

The much loved star of TV sitcom Gimme, Gimme, Gimme returns this August in her role as director, getting Honest Amy up and running for Booth-Steel, best known for playing Nicola Sturgeon in Channel 4’s The Windsors.

“What attracted me to the piece was that it is about Amy herself,” explains Burke.

“She has stuff to say after going through quite a lot; a few years ago she got poorly with cancer, which was a bolt out of the blue.

“She had to deal with that and then came the emotional fall out that can happen once you have been hit with something that is life-threatening.

“But through her warmth and charm she manages to tell her story in a really open and fun way.

“We felt Edinburgh was the perfect place to platform this show.”

Unlike her early visits, ‘romance’ will be far from Burke’s thoughts this time around.

“Those days are very much behind me, thank god, this is what I love about getting older, you just don’t give a s**t about any of that stuff, finding romance, anymore.

“Edinburgh is good craic. A romantic and beautiful city, it’s one those places that makes me smile when I think about it - there are other places I would never dare go back to, but Edinburgh is very special.”

Echoing the thoughts of many locals, she adds, “It’s just a shame it gets so mobbed, which is another reason why I won’t be there for too long; that’s the bad thing about getting older, you hate crowds and hot places.”

Burke quit acting 20 years ago after she “just stopped enjoying it.”

She explains, “I was going to take a break for a couple of years. I was very, very lucky as an actress and had got to a point where, on paper, things couldn’t have been going any better.

“But I was feeling less and less enthusiastic, 20 years ago the roles for women were not as they are now.

“In the last few years, what has happened for females is amazing with the choice of different sorts of characters, but it wasn’t really like that for me back then, I was just getting sent the same parts all the time.

“So I thought, ‘I’ll take a couple of years away from acting to focus on directing...’ and that turned into 15 years.”

Burke has made the occasional foray into performance since, however, “I was much happier popping back and do a little cameo here and there if the script was great and I liked the cut of the jib of the people involved, but going back full time has not really crossed my mind in 15 years.

“We only get one life so my happiness is very important.”

Which is why she is looking forward to her brief return to Edinburgh and working in a makeshift Fringe venue.

“It’s all theatre and it’s all story-telling. That is all I wanted to do when I was a kid, so the venue doesn’t matter to me,” she says, adding, “We could do it in cupboard and it would be fine, I’d soon sus out how to light it.”

Tickets are now on sale for Honest Amy which runs at the Pleasance Dome throughout August, from 0131-226 0000 or www.edfringe.com