Two Doors Down star Doon Mackichan reveals scenes she ‘refused to do’ to avoid ‘reductive stereotype’

Doon Mackichan, who played eccentric neighbour Cathy Whyte in Two Doors Down for a decade between 2013 and 2023, has revealed there were some scenes in the BBC sitcom she “refused” to film.

The comedian and actor, 61, was speaking at Hay Festival about her memoir My Lady Parts: A Life Fighting Stereotypes.

She said that, while Cathy is one of her “favourite roles”, there were some scenes written by its late co-creator Simon Carlyle that “went a bit far”.

“There are some things I refused to do,” she said. “Some things went a bit far. Sometimes gay men writing for women, it pushes it. I felt like I was becoming a kind of drag act.

“He wanted me to go further and further, and sort of march up and down and talk about my fanny and I’d just be like, OK, I’m happy to be a gay icon, but I also don’t want to be a reductive stereotype.

“I want to be real. And the good thing about Cathy is she’s very vulnerable.”

She added: “So the Christmas special, where she drinks way too much and it’s actually really grim, is important because she has a problem. You don’t want to talk about alcoholism in a sitcom, but actually, that’s what we’re doing.

“It’s all about fine lines and balance and trying to make her more real than a stereotype.”

As Cathy in ‘Two Doors Down’ (BBC Studios/Anne Binckebanck)
As Cathy in ‘Two Doors Down’ (BBC Studios/Anne Binckebanck)

Speaking about how much she loved playing Cathy in the show, which was about crazy neighbours living side by side in a middle-class Glasgow suburb, she said: “I get to not care, I drink, I say what I want, I’ll do a high kick, I’ll cry and I’ll leave the room.

“I don’t know quite what it taps into, but it’s a sense that she can’t bear the stultifying boredom of sitting in a room and listening to all these people. She wants something to happen. She’s so trapped.

“So she’s like this mad butterfly. I get to wear great outfits. I get to swear, get to sing. It’s just one of my favourite roles.”

Two Doors Down ran for seven series on the BBC, but the future of the show is uncertain following the death of Carlyle aged 48 in 2023. Carlyle’s cause of death has not been closed. He made the Bafta-winning show with Gregor Sharp.

Hay Festival runs from 23 May to 2 June in Hay-on-Wye;