- Caroline Mary Aherne
- Ealing London England
- United Kingdom
- Actress Producer Director Writer Comedienne
- Sense Of Humour Dry A Wicked
Caroline Aherne (born 24 December 1963 in Ealing, London) is an English comedian, writer and actress best known for her award winning creations Mrs Merton and The Royle Family. Aherne was born into the family of an Irish railway worker and raised in Wythenshawe, Manchester. In 2003, she was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.
Aherne's first TV appearances were on regional TV securing a semi-regular spot on the Granada TV discussion show "Upfront" in 1990 in her Mrs Merton guise. Aherne regularly appeared in and wrote for the comedy sketch show 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) were quizzed about their lives and careers, and found themselves on the receiving end of questions that were outrageous double entendres. Aherne managed to 'slip the knife in' while safely disguised as an elderly matriarch. Perhaps the most famous example of this was when she asked the partner of magician Paul Daniels, Debbie McGee, "So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?" Another well-known episode featured guests comedian Bernard Manning and actor Richard Wilson. Manning clashed frequently with Wilson and Aherne in the guise of Mrs Merton (although he did acknowledge that One Foot in the Grave was a funny sitcom). The series ran in various formats from 1994 to 1997. The character was given a spin-off 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 only one series, and was only released on DVD in 2008.
Her most famous and popular creation is the Manchester-set 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 huge commercial and critical success, and ran for three seasons of six episodes each, as well as three one-off specials. After a 2000 documentary with writing partner Cash entitled Back Passage to India, Aherne announced that 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.
Following a falling-out with Cash, she moved to Australia, again retreating from the press. She wrote a new series, Dossa and Joe that was screened on BBC Two in 2002. Although critics applauded it, the show did not attract a significant number of viewers and so did not return for a second series. Returning to Britain, she began work on another sitcom with Cash but pulled out early on, leaving Cash to write it with Phil Mealey (she receives a 'With thanks to' credit at the end of each episode). The show, Early Doors, was shown in 2003 and proved a hit. It was subsequently commissioned for a second series, which was screened in August 2004.
Since Dossa and Joe finished, Aherne has become virtually anonymous, choosing to shun the limelight and fame. When The Fast Show was featured on the BBC One show Comedy Connections, Aherne was the only cast member not interviewed, although her co-stars remembered her fondly. In April 2006, the BBC announced that Aherne and Cash were developing a script for a new, one-off special of The Royle Family to be broadcast in the UK later in the year, and the episode, entitled The Royle Family: The Queen of Sheba, was broadcast on 29 October 2006. The one-off return earned an audience of 7.8 million. She has since made only two appearances on TV. On 14 October 2008 Aherne made a cameo appearance in the BBC comedy drama Sunshine as a barmaid. It was written by her Royle Family co-star Craig Cash. Aherne again appeared in The Royle Family on Christmas Day 2008, with the show making a seasonal one off episode.
Aherne's private life has been well publicised by the British tabloids. When her former boyfriend died in 1998, she attempted suicide, and was admitted into the Priory clinic to treat difficulties with alcohol. It was after these events that she began to devise the initial scripts for The Royle Family. She has since been open about her lifelong battles with clinical depression.
Aherne was married to New Order bassist Peter Hook and for a time she was credited as Caroline Hook (although she reverted to her maiden name when the marriage ended). Other romantic relationships have included her Royle Family co-writer Craig Cash, Buffy and Angel actor Alexis Denisof and the comedian David Walliams. Her relationship with Walliams remained a secret throughout, as she did not want to damage his (then) fledgling career through him being known as her boyfriend. She has also been linked with hypnotist and personal development guru, Paul McKenna.
In 2009 Aherne appeared in a Royle Family special for Comic Relief.