Steve Coogan Mark Lawson Talks To...


Steve Coogan

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Steve Coogan became famous by playing an infamous broadcaster

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

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

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

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problems, escaping the shadow of Partridge and suffering tabloid

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

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

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and co-stars es with Judi Dench in Philomena.

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You played many fictional characters, and you have played

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

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another version of Steve Coogan that is prepared for interviews and

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

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

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

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

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older. It strikes me you have reached a position professionally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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have to create your own opportunities and also when you are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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something that was authentic and sincere. Because what annoys me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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is both biographical, about real people, but auto biographical

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

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

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

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

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

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

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characters to make the narrative resonate and have tension and have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by their Catholicism. Caring about the weak and dis disenfranchised

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

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

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

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find some sort of equal libbium between recognising and dignify

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

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

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asked Philomena, because we conducted these interviews, how if

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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received wisdom that people should say their first experience of sex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to have an intelligent grown up calm conversation about the various

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

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press being enabled to express themselves freely and it is a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Leveson himself recommended, has been hardly any analysis of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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politician who was trying to get elected based on very conservative

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values of constantly using family values and his family as something

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

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perhaps judgmental about for example gay lifestyles and it turned out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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emotional conservatism in northern working class people. Which means

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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do with understatement and overstatement, in the south of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that precisely? My parents aspirants. My grandmother was a

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

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

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

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

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intellect. There are lots of psychological theories about the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:24:25.:24:31.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:25:11.:25:15.

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

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

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

:25:33.:25:38.

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

:25:39.:25:44.

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

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

:25:50.:25:53.

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

:25:54.:25:58.

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

:25:59.:26:05.

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

:26:06.:26:13.

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

:26:14.:26:16.

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

:26:17.:26:26.

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

:26:27.:26:32.

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

:26:33.:26:39.

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

:26:40.:26:43.

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

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

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

:26:54.:27:03.

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

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

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

:27:12.:27:18.

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

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

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

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

:27:34.:27:39.

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

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

:27:46.:27:50.

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

:27:51.:27:55.

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

:27:56.:28:03.

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

:28:04.:28:11.

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

:28:12.:28:14.

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

:28:15.:28:20.

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

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

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

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

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

:28:46.:28:50.

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

:28:51.:29:00.

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

:29:01.:29:05.

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

:29:06.:29:10.

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

:29:11.:29:16.

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

:29:17.:29:24.

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

:29:25.:29:29.

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

:29:30.:29:33.

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

:29:34.:29:37.

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

:29:38.:29:43.

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

:29:44.:30:03.

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

:30:04.:30:14.

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

:30:15.:30:19.

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

:30:20.:30:25.

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

:30:26.:30:31.

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

:30:32.:30:38.

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

:30:39.:30:50.

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

:30:51.:30:55.

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

:30:56.:30:58.

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

:30:59.:31:03.

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

:31:04.:31:09.

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

:31:10.:31:14.

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

:31:15.:31:18.

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

:31:19.:31:24.

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

:31:25.:31:32.

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

:31:33.:31:36.

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

:31:37.:31:43.

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

:31:44.:31:46.

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

:31:47.:31:52.

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

:31:53.:31:59.

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

:32:00.:32:04.

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

:32:05.:32:09.

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

:32:10.:32:15.

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

:32:16.:32:21.

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

:32:22.:32:26.

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

:32:27.:32:30.

people doing impersonations thinking there was something wrong with them.

:32:31.:32:35.

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

:32:36.:32:41.

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

:32:42.:32:48.

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

:32:49.:32:52.

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

:32:53.:32:58.

swimming pool, being chastised by blokes in trunks for swearing

:32:59.:33:01.

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

:33:02.:33:07.

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

:33:08.:33:13.

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

:33:14.:33:19.

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

:33:20.:33:25.

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

:33:26.:33:29.

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

:33:30.:33:34.

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

:33:35.:33:41.

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

:33:42.:33:44.

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

:33:45.:33:51.

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

:33:52.:33:56.

because they were wrong or politically unacceptable, but people

:33:57.:33:59.

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

:34:00.:34:03.

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

:34:04.:34:09.

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

:34:10.:34:15.

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

:34:16.:34:18.

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

:34:19.:34:27.

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

:34:28.:34:30.

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

:34:31.:34:35.

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

:34:36.:34:46.

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

:34:47.:34:51.

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

:34:52.:34:58.

There were these various different sketches and things that he put

:34:59.:35:02.

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

:35:03.:35:09.

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

:35:10.:35:14.

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

:35:15.:35:19.

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

:35:20.:35:29.

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

:35:30.:35:45.

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

:35:46.:35:49.

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

:35:50.:35:54.

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

:35:55.:35:58.

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

:35:59.:36:05.

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

:36:06.:36:10.

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

:36:11.:36:18.

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

:36:19.:36:22.

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

:36:23.:36:27.

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

:36:28.:36:33.

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

:36:34.:36:37.

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

:36:38.:36:41.

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

:36:42.:36:48.

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

:36:49.:36:56.

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

:36:57.:37:00.

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

:37:01.:37:06.

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

:37:07.:37:16.

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

:37:17.:37:21.

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

:37:22.:37:32.

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

:37:33.:37:41.

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

:37:42.:37:45.

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

:37:46.:37:49.

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

:37:50.:37:54.

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

:37:55.:38:00.

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

:38:01.:38:05.

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

:38:06.:38:11.

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

:38:12.:38:18.

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

:38:19.:38:25.

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

:38:26.:38:28.

would interview would be pretentious. Who do you think you

:38:29.:38:36.

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

:38:37.:38:40.

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

:38:41.:38:49.

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

:38:50.:38:57.

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

:38:58.:39:07.

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

:39:08.:39:21.

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

:39:22.:39:29.

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

:39:30.:39:34.

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

:39:35.:39:39.

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

:39:40.:39:51.

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

:39:52.:39:59.

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

:40:00.:40:04.

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

:40:05.:40:09.

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

:40:10.:40:18.

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

:40:19.:40:23.

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

:40:24.:40:29.

Johnny Vagas has just written an extraordinary book in which he

:40:30.:40:35.

argueses that Johnny Vagas was a comic creation that took hostage

:40:36.:40:41.

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

:40:42.:40:48.

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

:40:49.:40:52.

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

:40:53.:41:01.

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

:41:02.:41:09.

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

:41:10.:41:15.

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

:41:16.:41:20.

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

:41:21.:41:26.

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

:41:27.:41:32.

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

:41:33.:41:39.

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

:41:40.:41:45.

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

:41:46.:41:51.

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

:41:52.:41:57.

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

:41:58.:42:04.

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

:42:05.:42:11.

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

:42:12.:42:15.

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

:42:16.:42:32.

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

:42:33.:42:37.

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

:42:38.:42:41.

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

:42:42.:42:51.

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

:42:52.:42:56.

received that you are competing against yourself. I recorded an

:42:57.:43:04.

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

:43:05.:43:09.

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

:43:10.:43:16.

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

:43:17.:43:19.

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

:43:20.:43:28.

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

:43:29.:43:34.

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

:43:35.:43:41.

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

:43:42.:43:48.

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

:43:49.:43:57.

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

:43:58.:44:08.

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

:44:09.:44:15.

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

:44:16.:44:19.

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

:44:20.:44:25.

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

:44:26.:44:29.

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

:44:30.:44:35.

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

:44:36.:44:38.

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

:44:39.:44:46.

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

:44:47.:44:52.

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

:44:53.:45:00.

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

:45:01.:45:05.

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

:45:06.:45:12.

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

:45:13.:45:22.

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

:45:23.:45:29.

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

:45:30.:45:34.

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

:45:35.:45:38.

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

:45:39.:45:42.

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

:45:43.:45:48.

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

:45:49.:45:52.

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

:45:53.:45:58.

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

:45:59.:46:03.

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

:46:04.:46:11.

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

:46:12.:46:16.

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

:46:17.:46:21.

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

:46:22.:46:28.

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

:46:29.:46:36.

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

:46:37.:46:42.

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

:46:43.:46:47.

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

:46:48.:46:52.

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

:46:53.:46:58.

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

:46:59.:47:02.

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

:47:03.:47:07.

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

:47:08.:47:12.

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

:47:13.:47:17.

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

:47:18.:47:24.

and anarchy in the UK. Michael winter bottom with

:47:25.:47:29.

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

:47:30.:47:35.

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

:47:36.:47:40.

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

:47:41.:47:44.

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

:47:45.:47:48.

lots of famous people play themselves in things like Curb your

:47:49.:47:53.

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

:47:54.:47:59.

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

:48:00.:48:03.

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

:48:04.:48:07.

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

:48:08.:48:12.

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

:48:13.:48:17.

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

:48:18.:48:22.

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

:48:23.:48:33.

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

:48:34.:48:38.

actors playing your girlfriend and we will distance it and explore

:48:39.:48:43.

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

:48:44.:48:50.

resonate with people for other reasons, should be about bigger

:48:51.:48:54.

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

:48:55.:48:59.

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

:49:00.:49:03.

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

:49:04.:49:10.

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

:49:11.:49:14.

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

:49:15.:49:20.

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

:49:21.:49:25.

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

:49:26.:49:31.

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

:49:32.:49:40.

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

:49:41.:49:43.

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

:49:44.:49:50.

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

:49:51.:50:00.

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

:50:01.:50:04.

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

:50:05.:50:10.

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

:50:11.:50:15.

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

:50:16.:50:21.

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

:50:22.:50:30.

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

:50:31.:50:34.

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

:50:35.:50:40.

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

:50:41.:50:45.

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

:50:46.:50:55.

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

:50:56.:51:05.

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

:51:06.:51:12.

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

:51:13.:51:21.

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

:51:22.:51:29.

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

:51:30.:51:38.

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

:51:39.:51:45.

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

:51:46.:51:51.

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

:51:52.:51:57.

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

:51:58.:52:01.

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

:52:02.:52:07.

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

:52:08.:52:13.

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

:52:14.:52:18.

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

:52:19.:52:22.

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

:52:23.:52:30.

and also vain and delusional. Partridge is entirely vain and

:52:31.:52:46.

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

:52:47.:52:59.

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

:53:00.:53:05.

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

:53:06.:53:10.

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

:53:11.:53:17.

an answer. I was trying to articulate that baby boomer

:53:18.:53:21.

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

:53:22.:53:31.

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

:53:32.:53:34.

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

:53:35.:53:39.

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

:53:40.:53:43.

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

:53:44.:53:47.

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

:53:48.:53:51.

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

:53:52.:53:58.

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

:53:59.:54:05.

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

:54:06.:54:13.

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

:54:14.:54:18.

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

:54:19.:54:25.

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

:54:26.:54:36.

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

:54:37.:54:40.

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

:54:41.:54:48.

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

:54:49.:54:55.

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

:54:56.:55:01.

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

:55:02.:55:07.

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

:55:08.:55:13.

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

:55:14.:55:17.

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

:55:18.:55:22.

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

:55:23.:55:28.

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

:55:29.:55:32.

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

:55:33.:55:41.

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

:55:42.:55:51.

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

:55:52.:55:57.

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

:55:58.:56:07.

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

:56:08.:56:23.

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

:56:24.:56:28.

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

:56:29.:56:33.

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

:56:34.:56:38.

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

:56:39.:56:43.

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

:56:44.:56:49.

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

:56:50.:56:55.

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

:56:56.:57:06.

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

:57:07.:57:10.

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

:57:11.:57:14.

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

:57:15.:57:19.

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

:57:20.:57:24.

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

:57:25.:57:30.

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

:57:31.:57:39.

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

:57:40.:57:44.

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

:57:45.:57:56.

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

:57:57.:58:01.

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

:58:02.:58:08.

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

:58:09.:58:20.

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

:58:21.:58:33.

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