In Britain, Steve Coogan is rightly hailed as an innovative comic genius on a par with John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson and Ricky Gervais. If he chose to retire right now, he’d still be mentally carried around at shoulder height for the next 100 years, and he will eventually become the subject of future folk songs.
But one Partridge does not a Christmas make, so to celebrate his 50th birthday, here are five Coogan roles you can have a wallow in, just so everyone can appreciate him in the way the Brits do:
It seems unlikely that anyone would be reading about Steve Coogan without at least a working knowledge of his most famous character, but should that be the case, Alan Partridge is a titanic comic creation. Essentially a media star with outdated opinions, no fanbase, dubious hair and a fragile ego (and low tolerance for anyone else’s point of view), there are tons of mini-Alans across every TV channel and radio station in the world. He made his first TV appearance on the peerless news spoof The Day Today, before moving on to his own chat show Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, in the documentary I’m Alan Partridge or the more recent Mid-Morning Matters with Alan Partridge. You can read his memoirs I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan (and naturally there’s an audiobook version) and of course there’s the movie Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Tommy Saxondale (Saxondale)
Where Alan is gauche and socially awkward, Tommy Saxondale has just been slightly left behind by the modern world. He’s a relic of the ’70s, someone whose first response to any new innovation is cynicism and who clearly feels that everything has gotten worse since his days as a roadie. He’s now a pest control manager and has anger management issues, so he might just have a point.
Tony Wilson (24 Hour Party People)
Most music biopics go out of their way to make their subjects appear greater than they actually are. 24 Hour Party People goes in an entirely different direction, depicting the life of Tony Wilson—the leader and creator of Manchester’s Factory Records and the dance music mecca the Hacienda—as both a visionary and something of a berk (and yes, another Alan). He will enable and inspire some of the city’s finest post-punk talent while simultaneously infuriating everyone he works with and acting like a pompous fool. Not only does Coogan’s Tony Wilson have feet of clay, they still smell like feet.
Martin Sixsmith (Philomena)
It’s at this point that the Alan starts to become less of a comic grotesque and more of a fully-rounded human being. Based on another true story, Coogan’s Martin Sixsmith begins this story as a slightly aloof news reporter with disdain for human interest stories, and ends it having become a true friend to a remarkable woman, helping her in her search for the boy she was forced to give up for adoption some 50 years previously.
Steve Coogan (The Trip)
Having already played a version of himself in Michael Winterbottom‘s A Cock and Bull Story, Steve reprises the role here, battling with his eponymous character’s various disappointments and family entanglements while embarking on a series of impression jousts with Rob Brydon (playing a version of Rob Brydon) and eating at some of the finest restaurants while preparing for a newspaper column.
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