Steve Coogan Mark Lawson Talks To...

Steve Coogan

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Steve Coogan became famous by playing an infamous broadcaster


Alan Partridge, his career took his from sports casting via an homicidal


chat show to North Norfolk Digital and recently a major movie, Alan


Partridge Alan Partridge: Alph Papa. In mid career Coogan had two


problems, escaping the shadow of Partridge and suffering tabloid


coverage of his private life. He appeared as a witness at the


Leveson Leveson Inquiry. Coogan is co-producer and co-writer


and co-stars es with Judi Dench in Philomena.


You played many fictional characters, and you have played


characters called Steve Coogan, I always wonder about this, is there


another version of Steve Coogan that is prepared for interviews and


public appearances. You can never be yourself, can you? When you are


younger, not sure how you are and you are paranoid how you are


perceived. I am less bothered about how I am perceived. So I think I


like to think I am fairly forthright and honest, or more honest as I get


older. It strikes me you have reached a position professionally


that you have been fighting towards for quite a long time, in the same


period you have a hit Alan Partridge film and you have a hit non-Alan


Partridge film, Philomena. And that, it seems to me, that has been your


aim for a long time to get Partridge among equals as it were? Yes, I want


to have my cake and eat it really. It is very difficult in this


country, because when you have a successful character, people don't


consider you seriously and that is, as problems go it is quite a nice


problem to have, because it is the result of being successful. I love


doing Alan Partridge and doing comedy but I want to be able to keep


doing it when I feel like it and also do other things, because


otherwise I get bored. Philomena - I was looking around for something. I


am not a workaholic. I would rather sit at home doing nothing, but you


have to create your own opportunities and also when you are


the architect of your work, with other people of course, there is a


perception that people don't offer you work because you are always


doing your own thing, so you have to do your own thing in the end.


Philomena was me try to go do something different. There is a book


by Martin Sixsmith, about someone who was forced to give up a child,


but you were on to it very early. I I think. There was an article in the


Guardian four years ago, and I optioned the book on the strength of


the article because I found it very moving. I thought other people would


connect with it, too. Because it was about a mother and a son, which is


fairly universal. And it was just, it was authentic and one of the


reasons that motivated me to pursue it, apart from the fact that I had


been half Irish, Catholic myself and Philomena being an old eccentric


Irish Catholic, I have grown up knowing a few of those, what made me


want to do something like this was that it was, I wanted to do


something that was authentic and sincere. Because what annoys me


about lots of cinema and television, there is a lot of cynicism and irony


and post-modernism that seems to pervade everything and it is


tiresome. It was necessary in reaction to something but I feel


like it's become an inindividualius thing where people are scared to be


sincere. This woman had a baby who had a baby and kept it a secret for


50 years. It would be a human interest story, I don't do those. It


is both biographical, about real people, but auto biographical


because Martin Sixsmith is not a lapsed Catholic, so so he is a lan


cast re-an lapsed Catholic so that is more you than him I decided,


because when you are writing, you write about what you know, I felt


like because for me a lot of the material put into the screenplay,


Jeff Pope and I, I wrote it with Jeff, was based on interviews we did


with Philomena and Martin. I had to create tension between two


characters to make the narrative resonate and have tension and have


drama and so I put something of myself into it, my lapsed


Catholicism. It balances with the Philomena character because she is a


woman who has suffered a great deal and yet retained herself and the


Martin Six smith character lass lost his faith. There are people in my


life who do have faith and I respect them, and I think they are good


people and the way I was raised was with very good values and the values


of my parents gave to me are very important to me and I was inspired


by their Catholicism. Caring about the weak and dis disenfranchised


were all things I have inherited and I don't believe in certain things


about Christianity, I don't believe Jesus Christ died for our sins, I


don't believe that, but I wanted to have this conversation where I could


find some sort of equal libbium between recognising and dignify


dignifying people of simple faith, unremarkable in some ways, but very


good lives. And Distinguish between those and the church institution. I


asked Philomena, because we conducted these interviews, how if


she forgave the nuns for what they did to her and she said yes, she


did, she didn't hesitate when she answered that question. I found that


interesting. At the same time, her daughter Jane, who was with us. I


don't like that word. Evil is good. Story-wise, I mean. Do you remember


anything he said? Hello. Might have been hi. There is a fascinating


speech you give to Philomena in the film, where she says that the sex


that led to the conception of the child was fantastic, one of the best


things that had happened to her Was that dramatic licence? It was, I


tell you why. It is counter intuitive, because there is this


received wisdom that people should say their first experience of sex


was dreadful, and that you shouldn't have old people talk about sex,


because you shouldn't imagine people were once young people and had lots


of sex when they were young. I wanted to show that older people


used to be young and used to be sexually active. Because especially


as a broad side against the idea of demonising sexuality and sexual


feelings, that I think the church has done. In the war between British


newspapers and show business, of which you are a major soldier One of


the tabloids had film filmed facts. It is such a bad approach to art. I


would like them to fact check Richard III by William Shakespeare.


We don't know, but it's nonsense. Every historical play by Shakespeare


is true to - there is an essence of truth. As you are aware there is


another agenda going on, they are trying to say these guys are


inaccurate and they make the stuff up and then complain about the


press. Yes, well I would say that that's indicative of the reductive


simplistic way they try to try to serve debate in this country.


Because it's not in anyone's interests - not in their interests,


to have an intelligent grown up calm conversation about the various


nuances that need to be talked about in terms of accountability and the


press being enabled to express themselves freely and it is a


nuanced argument. They don't want to acknowledge that. To be reductive


and simplistic at every turn is what they do. In that connection you are


one of those people, you are caught in a paradox, that in order to argue


for privacy, you have to go public, and that in order to take on


newspapers, you risk becoming a target for those newspapers, but you


would say that your calculation is that the outcome might make that


worthwhile. The ire I invite is more than outweighed by my own


self-respect, because I could have not got involved, if I had been


self-serving, because it doesn't benefit me. If you were cynical you


would think it is part of a grand plan to elevate myself. Let's just


say the editor of the Daily Mail wouldn't suspect it is self-serving


because if you managed to bring in any kind of regulation or


legislation, you can then do whatever you want, you won't be


reported. He would say that because he would want to reduce the argument


so something that he's self-serving and simplistic. I didn't want to be


involved. I saw a lop sided argument on television s where an argument


that was framed by the press in a way that was misrepresentative and


dishonest, which is nothing like the wording and the proposals that


Leveson himself recommended, has been hardly any analysis of


Leveson's recommendations. It's all been this broad generalations. They


are not interested in this whole hijacking argument of press freedom,


is them framing the debate and it's been repeated on television and


people haven't actually acknowledged what is in the royal charter, the


details in the royal charter. It is about self-regulation,


self-regulation needs to have teeth. I don't want to go into detail, but


press officer son of P CC, Press Complaints Commission. Which is run


by the editor of the Daily Mail Yes, also some of the things that


they are objecting to, if you actually break it down to the


details and explain them to the man in the street, the public are very


much on the side of we at hacked off, because they see it as entirely


reasonable but that won't be reflected in the way the press, most


of the press report T For example, equal prominence, hacked off, if the


paper prints something that is a lie or untrue they want the correction


or apology to have equal prominence. If you explain that to the public,


if someone prints a lie on page one in a headline, that the retrauks


should be a one inch column on page 16 is laughable. Most reasonable


people thinks that is entirely fair. They don't want that, you have to


ask yourself is why don't you want that. Where it gets complicated for


a lot of people is, you are right, most people, if it is a question of


printing a lie in a newspaper, most people find that quite easy. Where


it gets more complex is the question of the private truth. So let's take


an example, soap opera star who is using cocaine in private or having


an affair, does the public have any right to know about those things? I


think it is to do with what is in the public interest. If someone is


sleeping with someone who is not their wife and they are, they have


not put themselves forward as the paragon of virtue, that is not in


the public interest, it is none of their business. If someone was a


politician who was trying to get elected based on very conservative


values of constantly using family values and his family as something


to help him get elected and saying those were the values he had and was


perhaps judgmental about for example gay lifestyles and it turned out


that he was secretly gay, you could, of course, argue that hypocrisy of


someone who is going to be a public representative, to expose that would


be in the public interest. What about an actor, for example, their


marriage is in the newspapers, allow themselves to be photograph the A


few years later that marriage is in trouble. There is an argument used


very often by newspapers which is they were happy enough to have


publicity when it was going well. It has to be on a case by case basis.


My involvement at Hacked Off isn't to represent famous people. My


involvement is because I have a platform afforded by the fact that


what I do for a living gives me a public profile, means I can speak on


behalf of people who don't want to be on camera, like Chris Jeffries,


Joanna Yates. My involvement really is purely because I want, I love and


admire public interest journalism, I want to see a better level of


journalism in this country. There is a cynicism about certain newspapers.


It is nothing really to do with this idea of them being restricted in


their great pursuit of the truth. I don't for a second think that Rupert


Murdoch is a great, on a great white charger on his quest for press


freedom. The only ideology he has is to be able to practice and prop gate


his own business interests with no restrictions whatsoever. That is his


ideology. I will try and think of something positive to say about Paul


day cue the other day, I he means it. But really this is just about


business, it is not about ethings. It is about satisfying shareholders.


The fact you are turned other by the tabloids and you have been on the


kiss and tells, it would be reasonable to me if that did, if


that was one reason you were involved in this? It is not. Because


when I got involved in it, that was all fading into the background. I


knew getting involved they would drag it all up again. If I wanted to


bury that, I would have let sleeping dogs lie. I knew when I got involved


with this, they were going to trau through all the old clippings -


trawl through all the old clippings. It is convenient for them to label


it as personal. It is not. I like good journalists, I don't like


really bad journalists. Without going to the north//south divide, I


am interested in how much of the most successful English comedy has


come from the north of England. Victoria Wood, Peter Kay, yourself I


will include in that list. Is there something in northern speech or


attitudes or life that is useful to comedy? I think there is an


emotional conservatism in northern working class people. Which means


that affection is expressed often with humour. It is also tied in


hardship. I used to think that Les Dawson when he used to do his


comedy, it was the most articulate expression of the comedy of poverty


and repression, because his comedy inspired me a lot actually. It was


the comedy of his life being no good. His life being miserable. And


within that misery you find a lot of comedy. Especially in the north it


is overcast and it rains a lot. The only options you've got is to have a


laugh. Laughter is free. Having spent quite a loft my life in the


north and having had northern grandparents and pafrnts, it is to


do with understatement and overstatement, in the south of


England people are say it wasn't a great success, whereas in the north


they go for it, they go for the misery and they exaggerate and they


overstate rather than understate, which is very useful for comedy I


grew up in a big household where you have lots of people round the dinner


table, and seven children and Foster children as well, a lot of people


there. Quiet intimacy and touchy-feeliness is not high on the


agenda. Taking the kiss out of each other at volume is another way of


saying, that is a northern lower middle class, which is quite


definitive as well in its own way. Lower middle. How do you qualify for


that precisely? My parents aspirants. My grandmother was a


clean, my grandfather was a binman. Father was an engineer for IBM, we


had a holiday every year and it was comfortable. Knowledge was something


to be acquired and encouraged. There is certainly an awareness, certainly


with me, about my, about intellect and wanting to acquire a greater


intellect. There are lots of psychological theories about the


effective position in the family. You mentioned the number of people


at the table. So first of all it makes you competitive, it must do?


Yes, it does. You have to top each other's line. It is a good baptism.


I do remember saying look at me look at me, quite a lot 679 lot


That is what I Z I didn't really read many books. I was a product of


the TV generation of the 19 70s where I would consume television,


before the days of VCRs and options, so you saw programmes, and didn t


see it again for two years. It was appointment to view. It was crucial,


you were rushing home to make sure you didn't miss that TV show. That


really was how I got through my childhood really. I learnt to do


impersonations and funny voices and I would stand in front of the Mirror


and do them to myself and I would have a group of friends with an


elitist sense of humour, I liked Monty Python, The Goons and some


things I was too young for and I would lose myself in this comedy, it


was important, because there were people who were being irrev rant


about institution institutions and that was an option, that was OK The


mickicry, that famously people who are good minimumics, they started


off with being teachers. When I went to secondary school, my older


brother, I was in the first year and he was in sixth form. He used to


call me up to the common room and make me do impersonations of Jim


Callaghan. Which shows you how long ago it was. He was briefly Prime


Minister. Yes, he was, yes. Anyone over 50 will love that. Dame Judi


Dench, she said that you are the best mimic she's ever met. Can you


do her? I can't, I don't have enough oestrogen to do women. Apart from


Pauline calf. I liked doing it in an unhumourous way, the real forensic


detail. I quite liked doing that. It is like singers having perfect


pitch. You can hear someone and you can pretty much reproduce it. I


wouldn't look at the teachers and observe them. I would find a guy in


the room and I would think, I would imagine how they talked and I could


do it. I had a good ear. I found I was able to do that and at school I


would take the assembly, some days the house mast master came in and


telling me to do, to take the assembly as him. And I was


12-years-old. I remember going round straightening the ties of boys who


were 16, 17. Because he had given my licence to do it and I would do it


in his voice. Was your ambition to be an actor or comedian, did you


make a distinction? I just wanted to be on the telly. I didn't even know


that. I went to drama school. I tried to read Stanislavski, but it


bored me to tears and go on how much I loved the theatre. I didn't love


the theatre and all those things I was supposed to say as an actor I


just wanted to be able to do interesting things and make a living


from it. And express myself in some way. You were turned down by five


London drama schools, including RADA, so you were determined because


that didn't put you off being turned down by five? No. Now I think, I


feel sorry for myself. I remember going to central school of speech


and drama, and seeing all these this is in the mid-80s, these men in


big over coats, saying "my name is Sebastian, my father works for the


BBC World service" and they had these public school voices and ever


so confident and I use today think who are they, I am nothing like


them. These girls with pig tails and said "what was your journey, what


was it liefk, that is amazing" they had self-confidence, I got a recall


here and didn't come up to scratch but I joined this theatre company


that was set up by this guy who had come down from Oxford, Michael


Mulligan, he was great, he helped me and gave me confidence and told me I


was good at what I did. When you left drama school, it was your voice


first of all that got you work, wasn't it? I was skipping off drama


school to go and do voice overs on local radio and I had start today do


stand-up comedy to get an equitiy card and I started to develop


something resembling a routine. At the same time almost the same time


someone asked me to appear on a talent show that Arthur sp smith


hosted for London Weekend Television, regional, and I saw an


advert in the stage, saying new voices wanted at Spitting Image I


sent off a tape and John Lloyd, who was famous for Blackadder and Nine


O'clock News, picked up my tape and I got a phone call before the mobile


phones, it was a canteen public pay phone that would ring and people


would shout out your name and someone said it was for me. That was


great. Also, you sent a cassette, it was on a cassette. Neil Kinnock All


the impersonations I used to do you can tell I stopped, because I can't


do anyone who has been in the public eye in the last ten years, because I


can't be bothered. I did a good Neil Kinnock. Amongst others, when I did


take over from Chris Barry, I had to do his version, which was very


caricature version, because (as Neil Kinnock), a lot of people don't know


the way he used to speak was like that, great emphasis and


occasionally he would sub-qualify the things he would say and go off


on a tangent and a sub-tangent of that. It was very over the top. But


that was one of the voices I put on the tape along with the usual Roger


Moor and Sean Connery and Ken Clarke on Spitting Image and Norman Tebbit.


It's breathing, it is where people breathe. Particularly politicians


who are buying to buy time. Roy Hattersley, he was always run out of


breath before the end of the sentence. (As Roy Roy Hattersley) he


couldn't finish the sentence because he ran out of breath. Various people


say Nick Clegg, and they are undo-able people. I look at David


Cameron, to me he's just a slightly more right-wing version of Tony


Blair. That is all really. The same nuance, they all do the same things,


they have all been coached. They all do this, you are not allowed to wag


your finger, they use their knuckle. I am not wagging my finer, I am


using my knuckle. They both do that. They have had the creases ironed


out. In the days of Thatcher, whatever you think about t it was


very colourful. The perrier award, Steve Coogan in character with John


Thompson, that was character and impersonation, stand-up kind of


thing? It was entirely character work, because I was a bit of a spent


force. The pivotal moment for me, I went to the Edinburgh Festival two


years before with Frank Skinner as my support. Frank worked very hard


and did his homework. I asked him to support me, we did a mini tour. I


was complacent, doing my voices and all the reviews, because I was known


for doing impersonations, all the reviews were awful about me and


fantastic about him. He emerged smelling of rose roses. I was


smelling of the other stuff. I wasn't very happy and I wasn't


working very hard. It was limiting, funny voices was limiting and to me,


even though I could do it, I never was really a fan. I used to look at


people doing impersonations thinking there was something wrong with them.


There's no substance. You don't go that is really impressive. It can


make you laugh, but there's - it's not about anything, it is just


impressive. A year later, the next year Frank won the perrier Award and


I was in Greece doing some stand-up for a holiday rep by the side of a


swimming pool, being chastised by blokes in trunks for swearing


because they had kids around. I am sitting in my box room and a single


bed over looking an air conditioning unit, Frank Skinner wins the Perrier


Award. It was a low point for me. I thought I have to pull a rabbit out


of a hat. So I started to do Paul Calf, this character I did, which


was based on when I was at drama school all the aggressive


non-student working class men in the pub opposite who resented paying


taxes so we could prance around in tights. That was like an epiphany


for me. If you take the truth and crank it up a few notches and


reflect it back at people, they like it a lot. The laughter you get and


also it was a way of saying things that you couldn't say as yourself,


because they were wrong or politically unacceptable, but people


would laugh at it in a different way, they would laugh at the


ignorance. That was a revelation for me. I have a formula here, I can do


this, develop characters who people will laugh at. The laugh you get


from recognition of shining a little light on an aspect of life is from


the gut. It is a different kind of laugh you get. It is much nor


rewarding. On the hour, B C radio 419 92, another very significant


moment because of Alan Partridge appearing on that. Do you remember


the precise moment of conception? I think so. Armando Ianucci, who was


producing the show, and brought all these people together, some of whom


I knew already, Patrick Marber for example, I knew from the circuits.


There were these various different sketches and things that he put


together in the show and I remember being very excited that I was asked


by Armando to join this rep trigroup. It was more Python-like in


that it was adventurous and there weren't punch lines, but it was


funny in a slightly abstract way and in an odd way that I couldn't quite


path om but it excited me. Armando thought the detailed voices was good


and thought I would be useful. It was a sketch about a sports


presenter. I do a sports presenter's voice, I don't really like sport, I


used to do a generic voice, all those people like David Coleman


John Motson rolled into one. They sound the same to me. The defining


thing, with a lot of them was the idea of, Alan's voice changed, he


was just a voice, voicing a sketch, but it was like this (as Alan


Partridge), it was very someone who keeps the notion of broadcasting and


being confident with your delivery, whether you know what you are speak


being or not, it seemed to me something to define sports


commentators. In a Pumping away with those muscly legs inside those tight


Lycra shorts which have become his trademark. I don't know what this


man is playing at. There is no way, surely the judges must come down


like a tonne of bricks, carry carrying bikes on top of a car is


not sportsmanlike. Did you write about Partridge. When we did the


talk show on the radio, which I have framed in my down stairs toilet a


letter of complaint about why this man was allowed this own show from


someone in Tunbridge Wells, infuriated. As the years have gone


on, we have developed him, but he was at first early on he was just a


fool, he's like Malvolio in Twelfth Night. In that he is delusional But


a small amount of xaigs compassion that the audience feel. Tess a


character to laugh at. As the years went by, because a lot of the ideas


would come from me, I remember sometimes writing with Patrick and


Armando, I would say something as myself and they would say "just have


Alan say that" I would find that offensive. Then I would get


defensive about it and feel more connected with him and say don't - I


felt like it was bullying a fool, almost like pulling legs off an


insect, it was too cruel in a way. I wanted to somehow dignify him in a


way and we came close to that because some of the people Alan


would interview would be pretentious. Who do you think you


are? Unfortunately for you, I am the chief commissions editor of BBC


television. Let's forget about all this. Do you want some cheese? No


thank you. It's quite nice. Smells, do you want to smell it? No thank


you. Smell my cheese! Smell my cheese. Norwich took Alan Partridge


to its bosom, and Alan partage alpha papa. Why Norwich. I wanted to avoid


cliche. We thought why does no-one talk about, what is ignored, what


suits him topographically. Looking on the map it's neither north or


south. It is of itself and it is slightly isolated. You don't pass


through it to go anywhere else. Unless you go to Sheringham. You


really need a good reason to go to Sheringham. We shot some Alan


Partridge there. Its isolation was important. It is the most isolated


city in England actually. It is right in the middle of, dot bang in


the middle. All those things have made us think that is perfect for


him. It has an otherness. Police! Identify yourself. Alan Partridge.


Alan Partridge, you know who I am, I haven't been off the TV that long.


Johnny Vagas has just written an extraordinary book in which he


argueses that Johnny Vagas was a comic creation that took hostage


Michael Pennington, the real name of him, and took him over. I assume you


have never got like that with Partridge? I understand what Michael


says about what happened to him I think that is quite a real thing and


it is dangerous because especially if you are drinking too much and it


can be destructive. But that is an extension of people wanting to


people want approval, they revert to the way they are defined by the


media. I was always think when you look at Oliver Reid, drinking


himself to death, and thinking that he is defined as good old Oliver


Reid, who likes a drink, we love him partly because he drinks, so there


is that thing "I'll be that then", because that is what they want and


that means people will approve of me and it's not good. It is not


necessarily the truth. With Alan, it is a double-edged sword, in that I


do like Alan, but I don't want to be defined by him. People in the street


say Alan, I say my name's Steve They just look at me and say what's


his problem. Tony Ferino was the one that got away with the character.


There was that thing of that is what I do now, I do characters. I did


this character that was mass onlying nis - misogynistic egotist, it was


one of the things where the lesson was, when you become pre-occupied


with your production values and don't concentrate or focus on the


material, then - and also when you have done something that is so well


received that you are competing against yourself. I recorded an


album with Steve Brown and my A and R man was Simon Cowell, before he


became famous, and I was really pleased with it. Artistically it was


very good, and it was quite subtle but it was a bit schizophrenic,


where do you place it, what do you do with it? No-one buys ironic


music. They just don't. However well executed it might be. Significant


film parole officer because that was a bigger thing, but that was moving


towards straight roles. I wasn't happy with that at all. It was


because it was, I accidentally made a children's film, with lots of kids


liking it. I didn't have a great experience with that. When I was


shooting that the director, he would say do one take for the producer.


Which was a big take, basically do a big animated take and it struck me


those were the things that were sticking together in the edita can't


watch it now, because I watch my face, my over animated expressions


and I want to strangle myself. I can't watch that. 24 Hour Party


People was happier, two 2002 for two reasons. It started a strain of


playing real people which you have done a number of times, in that case


Mancunian music legend and working with Michael Winterbottom. Did you,


was it immediately a sympathetic relationship? Michael saved me in a


way. Because in terms of my career he saw beyond Alan Partridge, which


a lot of people didn't. Certainly film directors didn't. He saw


something else, which I am pleased about, because he helped. He stopped


me, he stopped Alan becoming this albatross. All the films I have done


with him always had some sort of quality that's made them appreciate


appreciated in the art house cinema circuit and in America where I am


not known really, that is one of the advantages of Alan Partridge not


being successful in America, that there's no type casting problem


there. In comedy, to do comedy well, broad comedy, even good broad


comedy, where you have to have a laugh every 30 seconds, you have got


to be forensic about it, your timing and the way you phrase it, it has to


be really specific and it means you end up being quite controlling. With


Michael, I learnt to throw that away and just not be entirely sure of


what I was doing and not worry about not being funny. And somehow that


helps you be funny in a more truthful and interesting way. 2


Hour Party People was another epiphany. I have had two so far How


many am I allowed! It really was and it was really a very, very happy


experience, also not just of Tony Wilson who I knew and I was reliflg


part of my teenage life -- reliving part of my teenage life, I was a bit


part player in the real story, and when it became to making the film, I


became the main character. Playing Tony. It was great for me, it was


like reliving my youth over again, but having the starring role. On


tonight's show I will be talking to Alice Cooper, he will be hanging a


dwarf live on stage. But first, two minutes of the most important music


since Elvis walked into the sun studios in Memphis, the Sex Pistols


and anarchy in the UK. Michael winter bottom with


cock-and-bull story and the Trip, in both which you play a version of


yourself with Rob Brydon playing a version of himself, were you, did


you have to be persuade persuaded by winter bottom. Rob and I didn't want


to do it at all, we thought it was a terrible idea. Because I have seen


lots of famous people play themselves in things like Curb your


enthusiasm and various TV shows and it's become a slightly tired injoke,


that notion of saying get a load of me playing myself, look how


self-deprecating I am, aren't I cool. I didn't want it to be that.


Or I am playing a nasty person, which shows what I nice person I am?


Look how self-critical I am being. I really didn't want to do that. I say


to Michael we don't want to do T he kept pressurising us. He said


there's not going to be a script. We said it's going to be waffle.


Self-indull gent waffle, too. He said we will frictionalise it,


actors playing your girlfriend and we will distance it and explore


things. He said it will resonate beyond it being about you, it should


resonate with people for other reasons, should be about bigger


things than yourselves. Rob and I said OK, we will do t we will give


it a go. One of the things they respond to is the sense that it was


a real needle between you and Rob brie dovenlt there is a moment in


Cock and Bull story where he says people only want him as Alan


Partridge and he wants to do other stuff. It appears to get really


nasty at times. Yes, the thing is Rob and I, when we did the trip we


agreed that we would be allowed to push each other's buttons and


wouldn't take it personally. It did get close to the bone sometimes But


it was - but I knew that if it's uncomfortable it will be


interesting. It was all gentle ribbing it would be dull and boring,


so it had to be a bit spiky. That is OK. It's good to make yourself feel


uncomfortable like that and to be needled. There is some sort of


truthfulness that comes out of it. I would be at your funeral. Now from


one of Rob's very closest friends, you will know him of course as TV's


Alan Partridge and he has asked specifically to come up and take 25,


30 minutes to talk about his friend Rob. Ladies and gentlemen Steve


Coogan. You may also know Steve from his good art house films which have


been reviewed by some of the broad sheet newspapers. Steve Coogan. Are


you allowed to say to Michael Winterbottom don't use that. Yes, we


did say that. Rob would say to me say something and I would go, I


shook my head. What kind of things? When he started to just rehash the


old tabloid stuff, some of which is true, and some of which is


exaggerated. Courtney Love, he would do that on the Trip? No, he wouldn't


do that. That's... That's something I am not going to go into. That


would be like opening up Pandora's worms, to mix my metaphors. The one


I personally feel didn't get the attention it deserved was Saxondale,


less attention than it should. That was Partridge related. Yes it was, I


am proud of that. It will stand the test of time. 13 episodes of it


Interestingly in America, I have been doing publicity for Philomena,


lots of people, it had a cult following there, lots of people came


up to me and said how much they loved Saxondale. It is a more


rounded, rounded character, because he is both the butt of the joke and


sometimes he himself is genuinely funny and witty. That's what I love


about him. Sometimes you go he's spot on there, he is very perceptive


and also vain and delusional. Partridge is entirely vain and


delusional. Pest control, name me some pests. Rats. Mice. Yes. How


about Ganghi. Shocked you, Gandy was a pest. A pest to the establishment.


We did Ganghi last term. What did they tell you about Ganghi? He


gained independence for India through non-violent protest. That's


an answer. I was trying to articulate that baby boomer


counter-culture generation that came out of the 19 60s, that feels, this


sounds terribly pretentious, but it is important for it to be funny and


about something, those people who didn't know who to react to or who


to fight against when Tony Blair walked into Downing Street with an


electric guitar and he's younger than them, then they don't know


where their place in the universe is, this culture of being


oppositional or outside the establishment. And use rock'n'roll


as their met for for that. Feel a bit at sea, a bit lost because Tony


Blair has an electric guitar, who do you fight against. I had a lot of


compassion for that. The factest self-delusional, that is interesting


about British comedy, it is hard to think of a comedy character who


isn't self-delusional. Captain Mainwaring, Basil fall at this. We


all are in certain ways. It is a British thing, too. Laughing at our


inadequacies and being liberated by that. It is one of the wonder things


about this country, the ability to be self-deprecating. When I was in


America, it is bizarre, the agents there, one of the places where


aggressive is a compliment. ." I am a very aggressive agent". How very


nice for you. They have this thing where there is no embarrassment at


saying I am very good at this and I can do this and that and we think it


is a bit weird. I went over there and tried to be self-deprecating


about my involvement in some project and they said if you say it wasn't


really you, they won't think you are being modest, they will think you


didn't have anything to do with it. In terms of comedy I think that


those people who are, who feel are badly done to, David Brent, Basil


fall at this and Alan Partridge is sort of strange strangely what


defines Britishness. Which I think is glorious actually and wonderful.


Because it means that we - that you can - what was that thing about meet


meeting disaster and triumph It is a coping mechanism for the country.


When some of those British comic characters go to America, they say


couldn't they be more self-confidence or more successful.


Bizarre. You are writing your memoirs at the moment. You are going


to? Yes, yes. Which is a sort of self-therapy, but is it something


you look forward to? Only up until I became a public figure or started to


do break through in terms of my career. As I get older I look back


more and more, you get more and more perspective on your childhood, on


the things that made you and a part of me wants to write it down before


it recedes so far into the past that I forget it. Or it becomes just


almost abstract. I feel connected with it. It is to do with middle


age. Already as you well know, some people have said, he's campaigning


for privacy and writing his memoirs. Your sane you are allowed. It is my


prerogative. If I want to talk to a stranger about my private life, that


is my choice. Do you have a title? No. I have fantasy titles. Give us a


fantasy titles. It is more fun thinking of the titles you shouldn't


use. I talking to someone about the fact that Leonard Nimoy's instalment


was called "-I am not possibling" and the second one was called " I am


possibling". -- Spoca. Steve Coogan, thank you very much.


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