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Caroline Aherne...

We all know and admire Caroline Aherne as the woman who blossomed in the Fast Show and had us all in fits of laughter with Mrs Merton and the Royle Family.

However, in the mid eighties, Caroline Aherne, then an unknown drama student, put pen to paper and wrote to Willy Russell. She bravely wrote about this letter in her new found role as a columnist for The Sunday Times.


The following is a true story. It will inspire you and give you hope. It reveals one true fact that we all forget - that, in life, anything is possible.

Recently I received a letter from the brilliant playwright Willy Russell. In it he explained that he had been sorting through some old boxes of correspondence and had come across a fan letter from 13 years ago from a girl called Caroline Aherne, and he was wondering if it was me. He enclosed the said letter and instantly I recognised my own handwriting.

So indeed it was from me, written while I was studying drama at Liverpool Polytechnic. Now, the fact that I wrote a fan letter to this man is not the point of this - I believe Russell is a genius and I am still a huge fan. It is the fact that a more excruciating embarrassing letter is hard to imagine.

I actually cringed when I read my weak attempts at humour and my first thought was to bin it and forget about it.

But then I remembered my new responsibility as a columnist and, bravely and unselfishly, I am now going to lay bare the contents of that letter, word for word, to enable hope to reign eternal in your hearts. It goes as follows:


Dear Mr Russell

Well, this is just a letter to congratulate you on your plays and to tell you to keep up the good work. I have seen Educating Rita, which was really good, in fact, Willy, it made me laugh very much although I still think they should have got off together at the end (this is purely the only criticism I have for the play, by the way).

I have read Breezeblock Park but not seen it; it was really funny.

I saw Blood Brothers, which I found excellent. Thus Wil, it seems I am probably your biggest fan since I've liked everything I've seen so far. I myself was going to write a bestselling international play, but I haven't had the time as of yet.

If you're stuck for ideas for any new plays or films, base one on me - I'm 22½ years old, full of fun and there's plenty of mileage to be had out of me.

Anyway, congratulations again, Will, keep writing the winners. (That's my advice).

Love from a big fan

Caroline Aherne xxx


So to conclude, there is hope for us all. Because the fact that the same girl who wrote that childish letter is now an extremely highly paid columnist for the Sunday Times Style section shows that anything is possible.

NB: seeing as this column is about hope, I sincerely hope that Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Alan Bennett don't go rooting through their old boxes of correspondence and unearth the letters I wrote to them, too.

THE SUNDAY TIMES - 4th April 1999