Steve Coogan has said British people are Philistines – and his alter-ego Alan Partridge reflects that.

The British actor and comedian – who co-wrote Oscar-nominated film Philomena and stars in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip To Italy – claimed the British are simple when compared to their European counterparts.

Steve said: “It is true Alan represents, in some ways, that kind of lazy thinking. He does represent what we call the Little Englander. What Napoleon described as ‘your nation of shopkeepers’.

“That sort of myopic, slightly Philistine mentality, which is what historically differentiated the British from our European cousins. Germans, the French and especially the Italians were slightly more aware of high art than the British who are a bit more meat and potatoes.

“Alan is the apotheosis of that. It’s that idea of being on the wrong side of cool.”

The 48-year-old former stand-up has been playing his alter-ego TV and radio presenter Alan Partridge for 23 years.

He admitted Alan has become more like him over the years.

Steve said: “Alan became more and more refined as sort of a dysfunctional alter ego. Definitely, it’s a way of me exercising my frustrations by putting them into the character. In sort of an inverted way, I’ll have him say stuff which is me raging against the stupidity of the media. I just shove it all into him, and that gets it off my chest. But ultimately, you have to have empathy. It can’t just be a freak show.

“With me, I’m very comfortable with it. There’s a natural human instinct to say, ‘I’m not like that. I don’t have imperfections. If you criticise me, I will defend everything.’ Counterintuitively, the reverse is true. If you acknowledge, ‘I’m not perfect. Sometimes I get things wrong. Sometimes the things I think are wrong.’ Once you do that, it’s liberating. So Alan is close to me. And it’s OK.”


Press Association