A-HA! Steve Coogan on the return of Alan Partridge

As Alan Partridge makes his eagerly awaited return to our screens with the first of two new specials for Sky Atlantic, Welcome to the Places of My Life, plus a reformatted version of last year’s web series Mid-Morning Matters, TV&Satellite Week magazine caught up with actor Steve Coogan

How has Alan Partridge changed over the years?

“As a character, the fiction of Alan is that he’s not really changed at all, but the way we write him has definitely changed. If you look at some of the early stuff we did on the Day Today back in 1994, even his voice is different. It was a bit like John Motson then, and it’s become more and more like me.”

How do you rate the new Partridge material compared with previous series?

“Mid-Morning Matters is some of the best stuff we’ve done. Because the character’s now well known, we can explore more nuance and subtlety. A lot of what we thought was funny in the early series wouldn’t pass muster now.”

Is Alan mellowing with the years?

“He’s trying to move with the times. Now, when he says something misogynist or racist, it’s not from an intolerant perspective – he’s trying to do the right thing and gets it wrong.”

Do you enjoy returning to the character?

“To stop myself being bored, I refine and refine it. So the Alan you see on Mid-Morning Matters is a more sophisticated creation than the Alan from I’m Alan Partridge. Similarly, he was more sophisticated than the Alan from Knowing Me, Knowing You.”

Do people ever think Alan is a real broadcaster?

“Lots of people do think he’s real and call me Alan in the street. Often they ask: ‘Can I have your autograph, Alan?’ I reply ‘It’s Steve actually’, and they say, ‘Yeah, all right Alan.'”

It’s been rumoured that Richard Madeley was the inspiration for Partridge. Is that true?

“He’s not based on anyone. Bizarrely, the things Richard Madeley says are almost too ridiculous for Partridge, even though sometimes he says things that are very Alan-like.”

Is there anything of yourself in Alan?

“Part of him is my worst fears, personally. Sometimes Alan says things I think but, most importantly, I edit those thoughts. We all do. I’m exploiting the weaknesses in my own character to channel into his.”

Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life screens on Sky Atlantic on Monday, June 25 at 9pm and is repeated on Sky1 on Friday, June 29 at 10pm

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