Katherine Elizabeth Froade was born on 18 March 1951 at Mayday Hospital, Croydon, the only child of Emily and George Froade. The family lived in a semi in Bisenden Road, East Croydon, and George worked as a printer. Katy attended Croydon High School from 1962 to 1969, and was a member of Croydon Youth Theatre in the late 60s. She also joined the Young Liberals, beginning a lifelong association with the Liberal Party and its successors.
In January 1970, Katy went up to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating with a Diploma in Acting in the spring of 1972. Within a few months she had her first professional acting job, taking Mary Tamm’s place at Birmingham Rep. After her father’s sudden death in late 1973, Katy moved back to Croydon. She began her TV career in 1974 with small parts in The Sweeney, Within These Walls, and Space: 1999.
Katy’s big break came in mid-1975 when she was cast as Gemma in Time Girls, apparently because Graham Williams recommended her. Although the series was not a great success, it gained a cult following. Katy took a leading role in publicity when the series launched in March 1976, but disappeared from the public eye as soon as filming was completed in June. She resurfaced in 1977 in the rep company at Manchester Library Theatre, but refused to talk about Time Girls for a long time afterwards.
Katy left Manchester in 1980 to spend an undistinguished two years at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Following this disappointment, she moved into comedy, playing Ginny in a touring production of Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking. She then teamed up with Suzy Aughdley in hit science-fiction farce Wife On Mars, which enjoyed a long run in the West End. During this period, Katy could often be seen partying at the Hippodrome or performing at miners’ benefit concerts. Although it was her notorious pantomime Thatcher that grabbed the headlines, her renditions of “Genesis Hall” showed musical skill and sensitivity.
Katy finally returned to TV work in 1985, when Time Girls was unexpectedly brought back. The announcement of the revival, coupled with tabloid rumours about her sexuality, led to a hate campaign in which NVALA tried and failed to get her banned from television. Recording began in September 1985, but on 26 October, Katy was arrested for possession of cocaine and sacked from the series, which was cut short to only six episodes. After a spell in the Priory, she returned to the RSC, winning acclaim for her angry yet vulnerable Tamora.
In the mid-90s, Katy became known to a new audience as the dissolute Aunt Jocasta in the inexplicably popular rom-com Like, Love, Sort Of and its dismal sequel More Like Love. In 2003, she took part in anti-war protests, and played the Duke of Exeter in an all-women Henry V. In the last ten years she has been increasingly active at fan conventions. Her most recent role was Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, in 2 Henry VI at the National Theatre. Katy has always kept her private life very private, but she has mentioned in recent interviews that she lives in Brentford with her partner, Claire, and that they are very happy.