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|Born||Caroline Mary Aherne
24 December 1963
Ealing, London, England
Aherne was born in Ealing, London, into the family of an Irish railway worker, and from the age of two raised in Wythenshawe, Manchester, where she attended the Hollies Convent Grammar School in West Didsbury. She then studied drama at Liverpool Polytechnic. Like her brother, Patrick, Aherne suffered from retinoblastoma in childhood, which left her partially sighted in one eye.
Aherne began performing on the Manchester comedy circuit as Mitzi Goldberg, lead singer of the comedy country and western act The Mitzi Goldberg Experience. She developed her Mrs Merton character with Frank Sidebottom for his show on Piccadilly Radio, where she worked as a receptionist. Aherne's first TV appearances were a semi-regular spot on the Granada TV discussion show "Upfront" in 1990, as Mrs Merton. She made brief appearances in The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer (1993), alongside Steve Coogan and John Thomson in a Granada TV pilot entitled The Dead Good Show, then appeared in and wrote for the BBC comedy series The Fast Show between 1994 and 1997, and rose to prominence as the character Mrs Merton on the mock talk show, The Mrs Merton Show, in 1994.
Mrs Merton was a character created by Aherne who hosted her own chat show. Guests (real-life celebrities, not actors) found themselves on the receiving end of outrageous faux naïve questions. A particularly memorable example was the question addressed to the partner of magician Paul Daniels, Debbie McGee: "So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?" Another episode featured comedian Bernard Manning and actor Richard Wilson. Manning clashed with Wilson and Aherne, although he did acknowledge that One Foot in the Grave was funny. The series ran in various formats from 1994 to 1997, winning a BAFTA in 1995. The character was given a sitcom, Mrs Merton and Malcolm, which depicted her home life with her "mummy's boy" son (played by co-writer Craig Cash). However, this aspect of Malcolm's character was exaggerated to the point where many complained that the series made fun of people with learning difficulties. Mrs Merton and Malcolm lasted one series, and was only released on DVD in 2008.
The Royle Family
Her most popular creation is the situation comedy The Royle Family, which she co-created and wrote with Cash, and directed in its third season. Aherne starred alongside Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, as their daughter Denise Royle. The show was a commercial and critical success, and ran for three seasons of six episodes as well as three one-offs. After a 2000 spoof documentary with Cash entitled Back Passage to India, Aherne said The Royle Family would end in December 2000 after a Christmas special, and that she would not appear on television again, although she would continue to write.
Withdrawal from public life
Following an argument with Craig Cash, Aherne moved to Sydney, retreating from the press. She wrote Dossa and Joe, screened on BBC 2 in 2002. Although critics applauded it, the show did not attract viewers and did not return for a second series. Returning to Britain, she began work on another sitcom with Cash but pulled out, leaving Cash to write with Phil Mealey. Early Doors was a hit in 2003. It was commissioned for a second series, screened in August 2004.
Since Dossa and Joe, Aherne has avoided media attention. When The Fast Show was featured on the BBC One show Comedy Connections, Aherne was the only cast member not interviewed. In April 2006, the BBC said Aherne and Cash were developing a script for a one-off special of The Royle Family; the episode, entitled The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba, was broadcast on 29 October 2006, to an audience of 7.8 million. Aherne has since made three appearances on TV. On 14 October 2008 she was in the BBC comedy drama Sunshine as a barmaid. It was written by Cash and Phil Mealey. She appeared in The Royle Family, The New Sofa on Christmas Day 2008. In 2009, she appeared in a Royle Family special for Comic Relief as well as another Christmas Day special of The Royle Family entitled The Golden Eggcup. She co-wrote the ITV1 comedy-drama The Fattest Man in Britain, which aired in December 2009.
In November 2010, Aherne made another appearance, in the special The Royle Family: Behind the Sofa shown on Gold, featuring clips of The Royle Family and interviews with Aherne, Cash and the cast which was followed by another Christmas Day special, Joe's Cracker. She narrated a BBC1 documentary entitled Pound Shop Wars that was broadcast in November 2012.
Aherne is currently writing a sitcom to be aired on ITV called The Security Men alongside Jeff Pope with whom she collaborated to write The Fattest Man in Britain. The new four-part series will star Paddy McGuinness, Brendan O'Carroll, Dean Andrews, Bobby Ball and Peter Wight.
- Rinaldi, Graham. "Aherne, Caroline (1963-)". screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved on 25 August 2007.
- "Manchester Television Broadcasters and Film Actors including Caroline Aherne...". Manchester2002-uk.com. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "BFI Screenonline: Aherne, Caroline (1963-) Biography". Screenonline.org.uk. 1963-12-24. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "Entertainment | Kay dishes up best TV one-liner". BBC News. 2006-08-13. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Foster's - The Fast Show". Fosters.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
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- "BBC One - Pound Shop Wars". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- Caroline Aherne at the Internet Movie Database
- Caroline Aherne biography and credits at BFI Screenonline
- Caroline Aherne pictures at Universal Search