Actor and director Kathy Burke grew up poor, became rich and famous, and has been in the public consciousness for more than 30 years. So she knows a thing or two about class, money and wealth. For a new Channel 4 documentary, the follow-up to 2019’s well-received two-parter Kathy Burke’s All Woman, she looks at money. Burke talks to the super-rich and those who have slipped through the increasingly holey welfare safety net, and are surviving thanks to foodbanks. She also reconnects with her great mates Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse to consider what their Loadsamoney character said about the late 1980s. The series sees Burke talking to Ruth Breen, the Wigan midwife who won the lottery, the TikTok superstars selling a lifestyle in The Wave House and The Big Issue’s own John Bird about his mission to smash poverty. Along the way, Burke pulls no punches as she dispenses her own philosophy of money.
The Big Issue: Why is money such a dirty word?
Kathy Burke: I think money is a dirty word as it seems to cause more misery than happiness. If we don’t interrogate issues around it how do we know what’s there to be shared?
How have you seen the idea that we should strive for more wealth change in your lifetime?
I think it’s drummed into us from the off that being wealthy is the best way. Look at the story of Cinderella. I’m sure she’d be happy marrying a local cobbler, but it has to be a prince because then she’d be rich.
What have you learned on your travels through wealth?