Blyth: Gogglebox vicar Kate shares her Christmas plans

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She is as lively and chatty as she is on the telly – and the Reverend Kate Bottley does not mince her words.

She started going to church in Sheffield, she says, because she fancied one of the lads at school, the son of a local vicar.

He was later to become her husband Graham – now a TV star who sits quietly next to Kate with their retired greyhound Buster on his lap while she gives a running commentary about what they are watching on the box.

The couple are two of the unlikely stars of Gogglebox, the reality show which films the reactions of ‘characters’ up and down the country as they watch television.
They were discovered after a flash mob wedding at her church near Worksop went viral on the internet and the show’s producers got in touch.

Originally from Sheffield, Kate was born at the Northern General Hospital and grew up in Freedom Road, Walkley, attending Myers Grove School and then attended Tapton sixth form – her family still live in the city.

Kate says: “I didn’t have a religious upbringing at all, but at school I saw a handsome young man and he turned out to be a vicar’s son.

“That was part of the reason I started going to church – I fancied him! I was about 13 or 14.”

The couple began dating when Kate was 18 and later married – they have been together 22 years and have two children, Ruby, aged 13, and 10-year-old Arthur.

Kate is vicar of three churches in Blyth, Scrooby and Ranskill near Worksop, and chaplain at North Nottinghamshire College, Worksop, three days a week, where she gives teenagers advice about sex education, mental health and pastoral care.

She said: “God just sort of got to me. I just found church a welcoming place.

“Sheffield in the 1980s was a very different place. My dad had lost his job as a fitter and toolmaker and a lot of those industries had closed down.

“It was quite formative for me – the sense of injustice was strong, so going to church was significant and a lot of things just made sense.

“I found a place where people wanted to talk about things and I was just really moved by it.”

After training as an RE teacher, Kate who worked at Ecclesfield and Yewlands schools, got married and had children.

She said: “We used to go to St Mark’s Church at Grenoside and one evening the vicar asked me to go for a curry with me.

“He said he had something important to tell me and wanted to speak to me on my own.

“I was really worried – I thought ‘what if he wants to have an affair with me?’

“Then he said ‘I think you should explore ordination’.

“When I got home, Graham said ‘did he ask you to have an affair with him then?’ and I said ‘no, it was much worse than that – he thinks I should become a vicar’.

“So I did. It’s a calling, you are called not only by God, but by the church.”

After a lengthy selection process - she describes one stage as being ‘like the X Factor judges’ houses’ - Kate was accepted.

Kate and Graham have taken part in Gogglebox since March.

The couple’s trademark is drinking tea out of a pot and they have amassed a huge collection of colourful tea cosies sent by fans of the show.

Said Kate: “Taking part in the show has been brilliant.

“I’m so busy with my job it’s nice to sit down together and watch TV. It’s not scripted and we film about two nights a week.

“We are massive fans of the show. We watch it when it goes out and don’t know what’s going to be broadcast – we sit down like everybody else and watch it.”

Kate’s open, friendly, bubbly personality has also been compared to the fictional Vicar of Dibley – the comedy TV character played by Dawn French.

And Kate says: “It’s an easy comparison to make, but she wasn’t a real vicar.

“That is part of the reason we did Gogglebox. We wanted to show people that just because we have a faith and are Christians, it doesn’t mean we are four headed.

“We watch telly like everybody else, we have arguments – we are normal people.”

Not surprisingly, Christmas is the busiest time of the year for Kate.

“This year is my fourth Christmas as a vicar and I took five services on Sunday,” she says.

“I had college three days last week and I attended 14 nativity plays and ate three Christmas dinners. The last week of term is always the craziest.”

She also had weddings to conduct and visits to care homes and hospitals to carry out. Everyone wants a piece of the Reverend Kate.

Kate said: “On Christmas Eve I’ve got four services, one at a nursing home, a Christingle service, a carol service and then the midnight service.

“I’ve got another service in the morning on Christmas Day, then I’ll get in my car, drive home and that’s it.

“On Christmas Day we do the same as everybody else - we eat, drink, open presents, have family around and have a really good time.

“We are on our own as a family for Christmas - the kids want mummy to themselves on Christmas Day.”

n Gogglebox 2014, featuring the best bits of the year, is on Channel 4 tomorrow at 9.30pm.