Steve Coogan

Stephen John Coogan (/ˈkɡən/; born 14 October 1965)[2] 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.

Steve Coogan
Stephen John Coogan

(1965-10-14) 14 October 1965
Alma materManchester Polytechnic School of Drama
Years active1988–present
Caroline Hickman
(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,[3] 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.

Early life

Coogan was born in Middleton, Lancashire, in 1965.[4] He is one of six children[5] born to Anthony Coogan, an IBM engineer and Kathleen (née Coonan), a housewife.[6][7] During the 1950s, his paternal grandfather established a dance hall for Irish immigrants.[8] He was raised Roman Catholic, in "lower middle or upper working class" family which emphasised the values of education.[8] His mother is Irish-born, from County Mayo, and his father is of Irish descent.[9][10] He attended Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School.[11] 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.[12] As a family, it was assumed that all the children would become teachers.[8]

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.[12] 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,[12] 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.

Alan Partridge

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.[13] 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.[14] Coogan still enjoys rewatching and laughing at his Partridge persona.[8] 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.[15]

TV roles

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.[16]

Film roles

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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]


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.[20]

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.[21] Reviews of the tour were mixed.[22][23][24] 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".[25]

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."[26] Brian Logan of The Guardian awarded it four stars and described it as "shamelessly funny."[27] 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."[28]

In 2009, Coogan was featured, alongside Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Julia Davis, in the spoof documentary TV film Steve Coogan – The Inside Story.[29] 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).[30]

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.[31]

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%. [32]

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".[33] 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,[34] also targeting his family and friends in attempts to extract stories from them.[35]

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.[36] 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."[37] However, Coogan later gave credit to the same newspaper for its investigation of the phone hacking scandal.[38] 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".[39]

Phone hacking

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.[40] 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.[41] 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".[38]

Coogan provided an eight-page witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry and appeared at the inquiry on 22 November 2011 to discuss the evidence.[35] 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.[42]

Personal life

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.[43] Although brought up Catholic, Coogan is an atheist.[44]

He supports Manchester United.[45]

Coogan married Caroline Hickman in 2002, and divorced in 2005.[46] He entered rehab for personal issues. He dated model China Chow for three years.[47] In March 2011, Coogan was guest editor for lads mag Loaded, where he met and began dating glamour model Loretta "Elle" Basey.[48] They were together until 2014.[49][50] He has a daughter, Clare Coogan-Cole, from a previous four-year relationship with solicitor Anna Cole.[51][52][53][54]

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.[55] In February 2016, Coogan was fined £670 and banned from driving for 28 days after being caught speeding in Brighton.[56] 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.[57]

Coogan's autobiography, Easily Distracted, was published in October 2015.[58]


On 22 November 2011, Coogan, along with Hugh Grant, gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on phone hacking, favouring regulation of the press.[59]

Coogan supports the Labour Party.[60] He believes that the Conservative Party think "people are plebs" and that "they like to pat people on the head".[61] 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.[62]

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."[63]

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.[64] 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."[65][66]


Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1989 Resurrected Youth
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 Marmaduke Raisin (voice)
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 Ideal Home Erasmus
2018 Irreplaceable You Mitch
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


Year Title Role Notes
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 Harry Stebbings 2 episodes
1993 Saturday Zoo Paul Calf / Pauline Calf
1994 The Day Today Alan Partridge/Various characters Writer
7 episodes
1994–95 Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge Alan Partridge Writer
7 episodes
1995 Coogan's Run Various characters Writer
6 episodes
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
12 episodes
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
6 episodes
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
6 episodes
2004–05 Nighty Night Executive producer
2004–05 The Keith Barret Show Executive producer
2005 Monkey Trousers Various Executive producer
5 episodes
2005 Ideal 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
13 episodes
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
24 episodes
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
6 episodes

Awards and nominations

1992In Character with John ThomsonPerrier Comedy AwardBest Comedy ShowWon
1994Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan PartridgeBritish Comedy AwardsBest Male TV PerformerWon
1995Pauline Calf's Wedding VideoBAFTAsBest Comedy PerformanceNominated
Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan PartridgeBest Light Entertainment PerformanceNominated
1998I'm Alan PartridgeBritish Comedy AwardsBest TV Comedy ActorWon
BAFTAsBest Comedy PerformanceWon
Best Comedy (Programme or Series)Won
2002The Parole OfficerBAFTA Award for Best NewcomerNominated
2003Cruise of the GodsBritish Comedy AwardsBest TV Comedy ActorWon
I'm Alan PartridgeBAFTAsBest Comedy PerformanceNominated
Royal Television SocietyNominated
24 Hour Party PeopleEmpire AwardsBest British ActorNominated
Online Film Critics SocietyBest Breakthrough PerformanceNominated
2005Happy EndingsSatellite AwardBest Supporting ActorNominated
2011The TripBAFTAsBest Male Comedy PerformanceWon[67]
2013Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My LifeBAFTAsBest Male Comedy PerformanceWon
2014PhilomenaAcademy AwardsBest PictureNominated
Best Writing – Adapted ScreenplayNominated
BAFTAsBest Writing – Adapted ScreenplayWon
Best British FilmNominated
Best FilmNominated
2017 Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle BAFTAs Best Male Comedy PerformanceWon
2019 Stan & Ollie BAFTAs Best Actor in a Leading RoleNominated
N/A Britannia Awards Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy[68] Won

Stand-up releases

Year Title
1994Live 'N' Lewd
1998Live – The Man Who Thinks He's It
2003Paul and Pauline Calf's Cheese and Ham Sandwich
2009As Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters – Live


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