Stephen John Coogan (/ˈkuːɡən/; born 14 October 1965) is an English actor, comedian, and producer. He began his career in the 1980s, working as a voice artist on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image and providing voiceovers for television advertisements. In the early 1990s, he began creating original comic characters. In 1999, he co-founded the production company Baby Cow Productions with Henry Normal.
Coogan at the Berlin International Film Festival (2017)
Stephen John Coogan
14 October 1965
Middleton, Lancashire, England
|Alma mater||Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama|
(m. 2002; div. 2005)
|Partner(s)||Anna Cole (1992–1996)|
|Relatives|| Brendan Coogan (brother) |
Martin Coogan (brother)
While working with Armando Iannucci on On the Hour and The Day Today, Coogan developed Alan Partridge, a socially inept and politically incorrect media personality. Partridge has featured in several television series, and a 2013 film; Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Coogan grew in prominence within the film industry in 2002, after starring in The Parole Officer and 24 Hour Party People. He portrayed Phileas Fogg in the 2004 remake Around the World in 80 Days and co-starred with Rob Brydon in The Trip, The Trip to Italy, and The Trip to Spain, as well as A Cock and Bull Story. He also performs voice work.
Coogan has played dramatic roles, with What Maisie Knew (2012), and portrayed Paul Raymond in the biopic The Look of Love (2013) and Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie (2018). In 2013, he co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film Philomena, which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and as well as two at the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
Coogan was born in Middleton, Lancashire, in 1965. He is one of six children born to Anthony Coogan, an IBM engineer and Kathleen (née Coonan), a housewife. During the 1950s, his paternal grandfather established a dance hall for Irish immigrants. He was raised Roman Catholic, in "lower middle or upper working class" family which emphasised the values of education. His mother is Irish-born, from County Mayo, and his father is of Irish descent. He attended Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School. He has stated that he had a happy childhood, and in addition to having four brothers and one sister, his parents fostered children on a short-term basis. As a family, it was assumed that all the children would become teachers.
Coogan had a talent for impersonation, and wanted to go to drama school, despite being advised by a teacher that it could lead to a precarious profession. After five failed applications to various drama schools within London, he received a place at the theatre company New Music before gaining a place at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama, where he met future collaborator John Thomson.
Coogan began his career as a comic and impressionist, performing regularly in Ipswich, before working as a voice artist for television advertisements and the satirical puppet show Spitting Image. In 1989, he appeared in a series of specially shot sketches in the Observation round in the long-running ITV game show The Krypton Factor. In 1992, Coogan won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for his performance with long-time collaborator John Thomson, and starred alongside Caroline Aherne and John Thomson in a one-off Granada TV sketch show The Dead Good Show. His most prominent characters developed at this time were Paul Calf, a stereotypical working class Mancunian, and his sister Pauline, played by Coogan in drag.
While working with Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris on the Radio 4 comedy On the Hour, Coogan conceived his most popular and developed character, a socially awkward and politically incorrect regional media personality. He appeared as a sports presenter on the television comedy The Day Today, before hosting his own chat show, Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge. In 1997, Partridge returned in the sitcom I'm Alan Partridge, which was followed by a second series in 2002, and received five BAFTA nominations. Partridge featured in Coogan's 2008 stand-up tour.
He revisited the character in two one-off Sky Atlantic specials, including Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life, which received a further two BAFTA nominations, as well as the mockumentary Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge. A feature-length film, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, was released in 2013. After a 17 year hiatus, the character returned to the BBC in 2019 with the parody magazine/current affairs show This Time with Alan Partridge.
In a 2001 poll conducted by Channel 4 Partridge was ranked seventh on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters. Coogan still enjoys rewatching and laughing at his Partridge persona. Occasionally, in character as Partridge, Coogan has made some comedic references to Ireland. Coogan has an Irish heritage. The Irish references are widely enjoyed in Ireland, such as the quotable RTE producers meeting in the hotel, and 2019's "Irish Alan Partridge" sequence.
Paul Calf first began as a character named 'Duncan Disorderly' in Coogan's early stand-up routines. Calf first came to wider public notice in 1993, with several appearances on Saturday Zoo, a late-night variety show presented by Jonathan Ross on Channel 4. Paul has appeared in two video diaries, an episode of Coogan's Run, and in various stand-up performances. He is an unemployed Mancunian wastrel with a particular hatred of students. His catchphrase is "Bag o' shite". Paul lives in a council house in the fictional town of Ottle with his mother and his sister, Pauline Calf (also played by Coogan). His father, Pete Calf (played by Coogan in Coogan's Run) died some time before the first video diary was made. For a long time he was obsessed with getting back together with his ex-girlfriend, Julie. Paul's best friend is "Fat" Bob (played by John Thomson), a car mechanic who eventually married Pauline. Paul supports Manchester City and is very partial to Wagon Wheels. He wears Burton suits, sports a bleached mullet and drives a Ford Cortina.
Other Coogan creations include Tommy Saxondale, Duncan Thicket, Ernest Eckler and Portuguese Eurovision Song Contest winner Tony Ferrino. Duncan Thicket has appeared in a tour of live shows. Other TV shows he has starred in include Coogan's Run, Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible, Monkey Trousers and Saxondale. Coogan has provided voices for the animated series I Am Not an Animal and Bob and Margaret, two Christmas specials featuring Robbie the Reindeer, and an episode of the BBC Radio Four spoof sci-fi series Nebulous.
He played the Gnat in the 1998 TV adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass starring Kate Beckinsale, and also starred in BBC2's The Private Life of Samuel Pepys in 2003, and Cruise of the Gods in 2002. In 2006, he had a cameo in the Little Britain Christmas special as a pilot taking Lou and Andy to Disneyland. In 2007, Coogan played a psychiatrist on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, and in 2008, starred in the BBC1 drama Sunshine.
In 2010, he reworked with Brydon and Winterbottom for the partially improvised BBC2 sitcom The Trip, in which he and Brydon tour northern restaurants.
Notable film roles include Factory Records boss Tony Wilson in the film 24 Hour Party People and Octavius in Night at the Museum.
He has played himself several times on screen. First, in one of the vignettes of Jim Jarmusch's 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes, alongside Alfred Molina. Second, in 2006 Coogan starred with Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story, a self-referential film of the "unfilmable" self-referential novel Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. In the film, Coogan plays a fictional, womanising version of himself. Thirdly, he played himself in the 2010 film The Trip. He worked again with director Winterbottom in The Look of Love, about '50s porn-king Paul Raymond. His fourth time playing himself on screen was in the 2014 film The Trip to Italy, a film about him and Rob Brydon taking a food-tasting trip through Italy, followed in 2017 by The Trip to Spain.
The first film which he co-wrote with Henry Normal was The Parole Officer, in which he also acted alongside Ben Miller and Lena Headey. Coogan has an uncredited cameo in Hot Fuzz, scripted by Shaun of the Dead writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright.
Coogan's most acclaimed work to date is the drama-comedy Philomena, which he co-wrote, produced, and starred in with Judi Dench. This performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination, among many other nominations (and some wins). Philomena was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2018, Coogan played English comedian Stan Laurel in the film biopic Stan & Ollie, starring opposite American actor John C. Reilly who played Oliver Hardy.
Coogan's show Steve Coogan in character with John Thomson was winner of the Perrier Award for best show at the 1992 Edinburgh Fringe. He has won numerous awards for his work in TV including British Comedy Awards, BAFTAs and The South Bank Show award for comedy. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2005, a poll to find the Comedians' Comedian saw him being voted amongst the top 20 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
Stand-up comedy comeback tour
In March 2008, it was confirmed that Coogan would return to doing stand-up comedy as part of his first stand-up tour in ten years. The tour, named "Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge and other less successful characters", saw the return of some of his old characters including Paul Calf and Alan Partridge. Reviews of the tour were mixed. Much of the criticism focused on the apparent unrehearsed quality of some of the performances and on Coogan's nervous stage presence. Chortle comedy guide described it as "most definitely a show of two halves: the superlative Alan Partridge plus a collection of characters that are not only less successful, but woefully less funny".
As the tour progressed and the problems were ironed out, reviews were very positive. Dominic Maxwell of The Times described the show as "twice as entertaining as most other comedy shows this year." Brian Logan of The Guardian awarded it four stars and described it as "shamelessly funny." Reviews such as the one from the Trent FM Arena exemplified how much the show had improved after dealing with the glitches on its first few dates: "When Steve Coogan first brought this show to Nottingham last month, the reviews were poor... the intervening weeks have made a big difference, and last night's audience at the Trent FM Arena went home happy. More please, and soon."
In 2009, Coogan was featured, alongside Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Julia Davis, in the spoof documentary TV film Steve Coogan – The Inside Story. The same year he spoke on the influence of Monty Python on his comedy when he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut).
Baby Cow Productions - production work
Coogan, along with his writing partner Henry Normal, founded Baby Cow Productions in 1999. Together, they have served as executive producers for shows such as The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night, Marion and Geoff, Gavin & Stacey, Human Remains and Moone Boy, as well as the Alan Partridge feature film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. They have also produced Where Are the Joneses?, an online sitcom which uses wiki technology to allow the audience to upload scripts and storyline ideas.
In 2008, BBC Worldwide brought a 25% stake in the production company. They did not offer the largest sum but that they were chosen by Coogan & Normal due to their previous work and strong connection with the BBC. In 2016, after Henry Normal stood down, Christine Langan (Head of BBC Film at the time) was hired by Coogan (creative director of Baby Cow Productions) as the new CEO which led to an increase in BBC Worldwide's stake to 73%. 
Since joining, Christine Langan has executively produced all of the content from Baby Cow Productions, including Camping, Stan & Ollie, Zapped and The Witchfinder.
In the media
Coogan said he "liked to keep himself private", adding; "I have never wanted to be famous, as such – fame is a by-product". He has been a popular target of the British tabloid press since 1996, who he stated have subjected him to entrapment and blackmail, printed obvious falsehoods about him, also targeting his family and friends in attempts to extract stories from them.
Coogan in some cases gave a strong denial to allegations, but in others did not contest them because he wanted to shield vulnerable friends from adverse publicity. The tabloids also published intrusive information about his relationships and the schooling of his child. Coogan has also been critical of the broadsheet press, saying they have colluded with the tabloids in the interests of selling newspapers. In 2005 he said "The Guardian tends to have its cake and eat it. It waits for the tabloids to dish the dirt and then it talks about the tabloids dishing the dirt while enjoying it themselves." However, Coogan later gave credit to the same newspaper for its investigation of the phone hacking scandal. Coogan said that because of the persistent intrusion into his private life, the press had effectively made him "immune" to further attack, as his "closet is empty of skeletons".
Coogan became a prominent figure in the News International phone hacking scandal as one of the celebrities who took action against the British tabloids in light of these events. He was made aware by his phone service provider of "possible anomalies" on his phone in 2005 and 2006. In 2010, Coogan's legal firm obtained a partially redacted version of Glenn Mulcaire's hacking notebook by a court order which showed Coogan had been targeted and his personal information was in the possession of Mulcaire.
Mulcaire was forced by the High Court of Justice to disclose to Coogan's legal team who amongst the staff at the News of the World ordered him to hack phones. This information was obtained by Coogan's lawyers on 26 August 2011. Interviewed on Newsnight on 8 July 2011, Coogan said he was "delighted" by the closure of the News of the World and said it was a "fantastic day for journalism". He said the idea of press freedom was used by the tabloids as a "smokescreen for selling papers with tittle-tattle" and said the argument against press regulation was "morally bankrupt".
Coogan provided an eight-page witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry and appeared at the inquiry on 22 November 2011 to discuss the evidence. He said he was there reluctantly representing a lot of celebrities who felt they could not speak out for fear of reprisals from the tabloid press.
Coogan's younger brother, Brendan, is a former Top Gear presenter, and his elder brother, Martin, was the lead singer of the early 1990s band The Mock Turtles. All three attended the Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School in Middleton, Greater Manchester. Although brought up Catholic, Coogan is an atheist.
He supports Manchester United.
Coogan married Caroline Hickman in 2002, and divorced in 2005. He entered rehab for personal issues. He dated model China Chow for three years. In March 2011, Coogan was guest editor for lads mag Loaded, where he met and began dating glamour model Loretta "Elle" Basey. They were together until 2014. He has a daughter, Clare Coogan-Cole, from a previous four-year relationship with solicitor Anna Cole.
A motoring enthusiast, he has owned a succession of Ferrari cars, but stopped buying them after realising that the depreciation and running costs were greater than hiring a private plane. In February 2016, Coogan was fined £670 and banned from driving for 28 days after being caught speeding in Brighton. In August 2019 he escaped the usual 6-month ban for a further speeding offence by saying that his next TV series depends on his ability to drive. He was given a two-month ban and a £750 fine.
Coogan's autobiography, Easily Distracted, was published in October 2015.
On 22 November 2011, Coogan, along with Hugh Grant, gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on phone hacking, favouring regulation of the press.
Coogan supports the Labour Party. He believes that the Conservative Party think "people are plebs" and that "they like to pat people on the head". In August 2014, Coogan was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
In June 2017, Coogan endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 UK general election. He opened for Corbyn at a rally in Birmingham saying: "The Tory tactic was to try to make this a choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, but this has backfired as people – and I readily admit to being one of them – have started to listen to what Jeremy Corbyn says rather than what other people have been saying about him."
In November 2019, along with other public figures, Coogan signed a letter supporting Corbyn describing him as "a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world" and endorsed him in the 2019 UK general election. In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, he signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."
|1995||The Indian in the Cupboard||Tommy Atkins|
|1996||The Wind in the Willows||Mole|
|1998||Sweet Revenge||Bruce Tick|
|2001||The Parole Officer||Simon Garden||Also writer|
|2002||24 Hour Party People||Tony Wilson|
|2003||Coffee and Cigarettes||Himself||Segment: "Cousins?"|
|2004||Ella Enchanted||Heston the Snake (voice)|
|2004||Around the World in 80 Days||Phileas Fogg|
|2005||Happy Endings||Charley Peppitone|
|2005||A Cock and Bull Story||Tristram Shandy / Walter Shandy / Steve Coogan|
|2006||The Alibi||Ray Elliot|
|2006||Night at the Museum||Octavius|
|2006||Marie Antoinette||Ambassador Mercy|
|2007||For the Love of God||Graham (voice)|
|2007||Hot Fuzz||Metropolitan Police Inspector||Uncredited|
|2008||Finding Amanda||Michael Henry|
|2008||Tales of the Riverbank||Roderick||Voice only|
|2008||Tropic Thunder||Damien Cockburn|
|2008||Hamlet 2||Dana Marschz|
|2009||What Goes Up||Campbell Babbitt||Also producer|
|2009||In the Loop||Paul Michaelson|
|2009||Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian||Octavius|
|2010||Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief||Hades|
|2010||The Other Guys||David Ershon|
|2011||The Trip||Steve Coogan||U.S. film edit|
|2011||Our Idiot Brother||Dylan Anderson|
|2012||Ruby Sparks||Langdon Tharp|
|2012||What Maisie Knew||Beale|
|2013||The Look of Love||Paul Raymond|
|2013||Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa||Alan Partridge||Also writer|
|2013||Despicable Me 2||Silas Ramsbottom (voice)|
|2013||Philomena||Martin Sixsmith||Also writer and producer|
|2014||The Trip to Italy||Steve Coogan||U.S. film edit|
|2014||Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb||Octavius|
|2014||Northern Soul||Mr Banks|
|2015||Minions||Professor Flux / Tower Guard (voice)|
|2016||Shepherds and Butchers||Johan Webber|
|2016||The Secret Life of Pets||Ozone / Reginald||Voice only|
|2016||Rules Don't Apply||Colonel Nigel Briggs|
|2016||Mindhorn||Peter Eastman||Also executive producer|
|2017||The Dinner||Paul Lohman|
|2017||Despicable Me 3||Silas Ramsbottom / Fritz (voice)|
|2017||The Trip to Spain||Steve Coogan||U.S. film edit|
|2018||The Adventures of Drunky||The Devil (voice)|
|2018||Hot Air||Lionel Macomb|
|2018||Holmes & Watson||Gustav Klinger|
|2018||Stan & Ollie||Stan Laurel|
|2019||The Professor and the Madman||Frederick James Furnivall|
|2019||Greed||Sir Richard McCreadie||Post-production|
|1988–92||Spitting Image||Various characters (voice)|
|1989||The Krypton Factor||Various characters||Specially shot sketches for the Observation round|
|1992||The Dead Good Show||Various characters|
|1993||The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer||Lead singer of Go West||Episode: "Water"|
|1993||Saturday Zoo||Paul Calf / Pauline Calf|
|1994||The Day Today||Alan Partridge/Various characters||Writer|
|1994–95||Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge||Alan Partridge||Writer|
|1995||Coogan's Run||Various characters||Writer|
|1996||Tales from the Crypt||Danny Skeggs||Episode: "The Kidnapper"|
|1997||The Friday Night Armistice||Alan Partridge||Episode: "The Election Night Armistice|
|1997||The Fix||Mike Gabbett||Television film|
|1997||The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon||Tony Ferrino||Television film|
|1997–2002||I'm Alan Partridge||Alan Partridge||Writer|
|1998||Bob and Margaret||Various characters (voice)||3 episodes|
|1998||Alice Through the Looking Glass||The Gnat||Television film|
|1999||Hooves of Fire||Blitzen (voice)|
|1999||Mrs Merton and Malcolm||Various characters / voices||6 episodes (five as voice actor)|
|2000||Human Remains||Executive producer|
|2001||Combat Sheep||Commander Harris (voice)||Executive producer|
|2001||A Small Summer Party||Geoff||Executive producer|
|2001||Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible||Various characters||Writer and executive producer|
|2002||Cruise of the Gods||Nick Lee||Executive producer|
|2002||Legend of the Lost Tribe||Blitzen (voice)|
|2003||The Private Life of Samuel Pepys||Samuel Pepys||Television film|
|2003||Anglian Lives: Alan Partridge||Alan Partridge||Writer|
|2003–05||The Mighty Boosh||Executive producer|
|2004||I Am Not An Animal||Various (voice)||Executive producer|
|2004–05||Nighty Night||Executive producer|
|2004–05||The Keith Barret Show||Executive producer|
|2005||Monkey Trousers||Various||Executive producer|
|2005–07||Sensitive Skin||Executive producer|
|2006||Little Britain||Pilot||Episode: "Little Britain Abroard"|
|2006–07||Saxondale||Tommy Saxondale||Writer and executive producer|
|2007||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Dr. Bright||Episode: "The Therapists"|
|2008||Sunshine||Bing Crosby||3 episodes|
|2010||Neighbors from Hell||Satan (voice)||6 episodes|
|2010–16||Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge||Alan Partridge||Writer|
|2010–2017||The Trip||Himself||18 episodes; also writer|
|2012||The Simpsons||Rowan Priddis (voice)||Episode: "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again"|
|2012||Moone Boy||Francie "Touchie" Feeley||Episode: "Bunch of Marys"; also executive producer|
|2013–14||Us & Them||Executive producer|
|2014||The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries||Himself||1 episode|
|2015||Happyish||Thom Payne||10 episodes|
|2016||Zapped||Malador||1 episode; also executive producer|
|2016||Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle||Alan Partridge||Special; also writer and executive producer|
|2017||Alan Partridge Why, When, Where, How and Whom||Documentary||1 episode|
|2019||This Time with Alan Partridge||Alan Partridge||Writer|
Awards and nominations
|1992||In Character with John Thomson||Perrier Comedy Award||Best Comedy Show||Won|
|1994||Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge||British Comedy Awards||Best Male TV Performer||Won|
|1995||Pauline Calf's Wedding Video||BAFTAs||Best Comedy Performance||Nominated|
|Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge||Best Light Entertainment Performance||Nominated|
|1998||I'm Alan Partridge||British Comedy Awards||Best TV Comedy Actor||Won|
|BAFTAs||Best Comedy Performance||Won|
|Best Comedy (Programme or Series)||Won|
|2002||The Parole Officer||BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer||Nominated|
|2003||Cruise of the Gods||British Comedy Awards||Best TV Comedy Actor||Won|
|I'm Alan Partridge||BAFTAs||Best Comedy Performance||Nominated|
|Royal Television Society||Nominated|
|24 Hour Party People||Empire Awards||Best British Actor||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Breakthrough Performance||Nominated|
|2005||Happy Endings||Satellite Award||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|2011||The Trip||BAFTAs||Best Male Comedy Performance||Won|
|2013||Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life||BAFTAs||Best Male Comedy Performance||Won|
|2014||Philomena||Academy Awards||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|BAFTAs||Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay||Won|
|Best British Film||Nominated|
|2017||Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle||BAFTAs||Best Male Comedy Performance||Won|
|2019||Stan & Ollie||BAFTAs||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Nominated|
|N/A||Britannia Awards||Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy||Won|
|1994||Live 'N' Lewd|
|1998||Live – The Man Who Thinks He's It|
|2003||Paul and Pauline Calf's Cheese and Ham Sandwich|
|2009||As Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters – Live|
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- "Steve Coogan dating Elle Basey?". British Comedy Guide. September 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
Coogan, 45, guest edited the mag in character as Norwich radio DJ Alan Partridge for the March 2011 issue, and posed with 21-year-old lingerie and glamour model Elle Basey for the issue.
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In 1996, Coogan’s four-year relationship with the lawyer Anna Cole ended — six months before their daughter, Clare, was born — after tales surfaced of his bedding another woman on a mattress covered in ten-pound notes.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steve Coogan.|
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- Steve Coogan on IMDb
- "Steve Coogan collected news and commentary". The Guardian.
- Coming to a cinema near you ... Alan Partridge as Our Man in Tashkent
- Steve Coogan: From a Partridge to 'Cock and Bull Fresh Air interview by Terry Gross
- Steve Coogan on BBC Radio Desert Island Discs
- Evidence to the Leveson Inquiry
- Profile on Chortle