Caroline Aherne ‘never wanted fame’

A former producer of The Mrs Merton Show has said he thinks Caroline Aherne was “happier before she was successful” and that she found it “very difficult” dealing with her celebrity status.

Speaking on Radio Five Live, Peter Kessler, when asked by presenter Stephen Nolan if his former colleague was happy with her success, said his perception was “she was happier before she was successful”.

Questioned about the personal battles she may have faced, the former producer revealed: “This is really one of the great tragedies of my professional life that I have watched happen, is that when we started working, Caroline was an innocent, happy young woman with an immense talent.

“By the end of two seasons she was a celebrity and it was only too obvious that she found it very, very difficult to deal with being a celebrity.”

Mr Kessler said the much-loved comedy writer and actress had an “enormous natural intellect but not a great deal in the way of formal education”.

“There wasn’t a great deal she had to fall back on to act as a buffer against that intrusive world of media attention,” he added.

Caroline Aherne ‘never wanted fame’

“What she therefore tended to rely on was people who she thought she could trust. And the thing is as you gain celebrity, more and more people present themselves to you as ‘I am the person you can trust’, and it becomes extremely confusing for an innocent person.”

Tributes poured in for comedian and actress after her death from cancer aged 52 on Saturday.

The star was best known for hit sitcom The Royle Family and the riotous chat show The Mrs Merton Show, which both won a string of awards.

Aherne, who more recently narrated Channel 4 show Gogglebox, had been battling lung cancer and had previously been treated for bladder and eye cancer.

After her death was announced on Saturday her Royle Family co-star Sue Johnston, who played her on-screen mother, said: “I am devastated at her passing and I am numb with grief.”

Alan Partridge comic Steve Coogan hailed his “incredibly funny” long-time friend, telling ITV News: “It was almost like an honour to have her make fun of you because you couldn’t help but laugh. It’s hard to imagine not hearing that laughter.”

Aherne gained public attention as the Checkout Girl in The Fast Show. But she became a household name as straight-talking blue-rinse granny Mrs Merton in The Mrs Merton Show, which first aired on BBC Two in 1995 and won the best talk show Bafta in 1997.

The Royle Family was born after she and friend Craig Cash, who played gormless Dave Best in the show, threw themselves into their work after a suicide attempt, which she described as her lowest ebb.

It is considered to be a classic British sitcom, despite the unusual format of a working class family sitting in a living room.

The BBC show was the toast of the 1999 British Comedy Awards, scooping four trophies including best actress for Aherne.

It went on to take home the best sitcom Bafta in 2000 and 2007.

Aherne was nominated for Baftas for her performance in both shows, as well as her directing of The Royle Family in 2001.

Aherne’s death was announced by her publicist Neil Reading, who said she died on Saturday at her home in Timperley, Greater Manchester.

The star, who had been a smoker, struggled with health problems for years.


Rower Philip Doyle believes there is no gain without pain when it comes to training. “You have to break a body down to build it up,” says the 27-year-old matter of factly.Irish rower Philip Doyle: 'You have to break a body down to built it up'

The bohemian brio of kaftans seems a tad exotic for socially distanced coffee mornings or close-to-home staycations. Perhaps that’s their charm.Trend of the Week: Cool Kaftans - Breezy dressing redefined

Eve Kelliher consults a Munster designer to find out what our future residences, offices and businesses will look likeHow pandemic life is transforming homes and workplaces

Nidge and co return for a repeat of a series that gripped the nation over its five seasons.Friday's TV Highlights: Love/Hate returns while Springwatch looks at rewilding

More From The Irish Examiner