Caroline Aherne is a British comedienne who was born in Manchester in 1963, she is best known for her Mrs Merton character and as creator of the acclaimed sitcom The Royle Family. She attended a convent school and later studied drama at Liverpool Polytechnic. Caroline had a job as a secretary at BBC Manchester, where she met her future writing partners Craig Cash and Henry Normal, and soon she began working on a local radio show, where the character of Mrs Merton was first developed, along with appearances on the local Manchester stand up circuit and Tony Wilson's show for Granada, Remote Control.

The Mrs Merton character soon landed a radio show, and a pilot tv programme was shot, leading to a series in 1995. Mrs Merton was Aherne made up as a little old lady, hosting a chat show in front of an audience of real pensioners. The shows appeal laid in the gentle mickey-taking of various celebrity guests who may or may not get the joke. The shows best known moment was probably when Debbie McGee was asked the question "So why did you marry millionaire, Paul Daniels?".

Concurrently with this Caroline was working on The Fast Show, and got married to and quickly divorced from Peter Hook, the bassist from New Order/Joy Division (in the first series of the Fast Show, Caroline was credited as Caroline Hook). Mrs Merton became a big success and ran for three series up to 1999. Caroline became known as being no stranger to a drink or two, leading to several incidents of heckling and general bad behaviour at various awards ceremony, thereby becoming a favourite for the gossip columns. In 1999 after a suicide attempt Caroline attended the Priory centre to combat her alcoholism.

In 1998 a sitcom on the Mrs Merton character was shown, called Mrs Merton and Malcolm, where Craig Cash, played Malcolm, Mrs Mertons slow witted son. I never saw this series but according to people whose opinions I trust it was very funny and touching but didn't manage to sustain a large enough audience for the primetime BBC 1 slot to make another series. Instead the next project was The Royle Family where Caroline starred as Denise Royle, as well as co writing and producing the series. Again Craig Cash would co-star this time as Denise's fiancee Dave. Like Mrs Merton the first series was broadcast on BBC2 where it became so popular that future series would be on the flagship BBC1. The Royle Family brought more success and recogniton for Aherne's talents, the show divides opinion between those who think its brilliant and those that just don't get the appeal. So far three series have been made as well as special Christmas Day episodes.

Caroline's high profile led to unwanted media intrusion into her life and last year she spent a large amount of her time in Australia. She has recently returned to the UK, but there are currently no plans for a further series of the Royle Family, although nearly all the cast members have expressed a keenness to reunite.

In summer 2002, a new sitcom written by Aherne; Dossa and Joe was shown on BBC2. Set in Australia and starring ex-neighbour Anne Charleston, I have not seen a single episode and so cannot comment.

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