Remembering George Michael and Catherine Tate's incredible cover of 'Fairytale of New York'

13 December 2023, 16:23

The Story of Wham! told by George Michael

By Mayer Nissim

When the much-reworked Christmas cracker got a cover like no other.

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'Fairytale of New York' is one of the all-time classic festive songs.

The original version by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl regularly charts year after year, and it's been covered umpteen times.

As well as musical covers from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Anne-Marie, Ronan Keating feat. Máire Brennan, Damien Dempsey & Sinéad O'Connor and Florence and The Machine ft. Billy Bragg, the song has been a go-to for dramatic and comedy moments on TV.

So we had Shane Richie and Jill Halfpenny as Alfie Moon and Kate Mitchell on EastEnders, and Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon sang it as Nessa Jenkins and Uncle Bryn on the Gavin & Stacey, among others.

But a favourite will always be the surprise duet of Catherine Tate and George Michael back in 2007.

George Michael "Fairytale of New York" including outtake (HG)

George Michael was a guest star in the 2007 Christmas special of The Catherine Tate Show, the final episode of the series to date, where he starred as himself opposite Tate's Irish nurse Bernie.

Ahead of George's cameo, Tate's Bernie is warned by a colleague against making a spectacle of herself at the Christmas karaoke as she did last year, and told in no uncertain terms not to bring any patients to the party.

She slumps off and starts singing Wham's 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go', disturbing a patient behind a curtain who turns out to be... the actual George Michael, who asks her to "shut the f**k up!"

Nurse Bernie: George Michael cameo - Catherine Tate - BBC comedy

They exchange pleasantries ("Do you want my sex?" "Do you not read the papers, love?") before Bernie invites George Michael to sing a duet at the Christmas party.

He not-so-politely declines, but surprises us all by walking out at the start of Bernie performance for the ultimate Fairytale.

George Michael has become with synonymous with Christmas over the years, with Wham's 1984 hit 'Last Christmas' becoming a perennial favourite, and George himself tragically passing away on Christmas Day in 2016.