Stephen John Coogan (born 14 October 1965) is an English actor, stand-up comedian, impressionist, screenwriter, 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, leading him to win the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 1999, he co-founded the production company Baby Cow Productions with Henry Normal.
While working with Armando Iannucci on On the Hour and The Day Today, Coogan created his most developed and popular character: Alan Partridge, a socially awkward and politically incorrect regional media personality. He featured in several television series, which earned him three BAFTA nominations and two wins for Best Comedy Performance. A feature-length film, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, was released in 2013, and opened at number one at the British box office.
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 in The Other Guys, Tropic Thunder, In the Loop, Hamlet 2, Our Idiot Brother, Ruby Sparks and the Night at the Museum films, as well as collaborating with Rob Brydon in The Trip and A Cock and Bull Story. He was also a voice actor in the animated comedy films Despicable Me 2 and 3, as well as their prequel, Minions, and had two parts in The Secret Life of Pets. He played Hades in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
Coogan has also branched out into more dramatic roles, with What Maisie Knew, and portrayed Paul Raymond in the biopicThe Look of Love. He co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film adaptation Philomena, which earned him a Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination, and two Academy Award nominations (for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture). He has been cast in the lead role for the ABC television pilot Doubt and the Showtime drama Happyish.
On 22 November 2011, Coogan, along with Hugh Grant, gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on phone hacking, favouring regulation of the press.
Coogan was born in Middleton, Greater Manchester, in 1965. He is one of six children born to Kathleen (née Coonan), a housewife, and Anthony Coogan, an IBM engineer. He was raised Roman Catholic, in a working class family. 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.
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 satiricalpuppet showSpitting 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 TVsketch showThe 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.
Main article: 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 mockumentaryMid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, which has been renewed for a second season. A feature-length film, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, was released in 2013.
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 reunited with actor Rob Brydon and director Michael Winterbottom (both of whom he had worked with on the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People and 2006's A Cock and Bull Story), for the partially improvised BBC2 sitcom The Trip, in which he and Brydon do a tour of northern restaurants, which he is writing up for The Observer. The Trip was nominated for a 2011 Television BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy, and Coogan won Best Male Performance in a Comedy Role.
He provided the voices of Philip Masterson-Bowie (a horse) and Mark Andrews (a sparrow) for the animated comedy series I Am Not an Animal. He was also the voice of Satan on Neighbors from Hell. In December 2011, Coogan voiced Roger Mellie and Tracey Tunstall of The Fat Slags in three VizComedy Blaps for Channel 4. He voiced a cruise-ship director in The Simpsons episode "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again".
Coogan co-stars in Moone Boy, along with Johnny Vegas and Chris O'Dowd, who also wrote the show. The series is a co-production between Sprout Pictures, who produced the original Little Crackers short, Baby Cow Productions, Hod Cod Productions and Grand Pictures, and began filming in early 2012 on location in Boyle and Dublin, Ireland. He also returned with his character Alan Partridge, in Alan Partridge – Welcome to the Places of My Life, which aired on Sky Atlantic. It was stated, by several critics and news papers, that the show has been highly anticipated, and was generally well received.
Notable film roles include Factory Records boss Tony Wilson in the film 24 Hour Party People, Mole in Terry Jones' The Wind in the Willows, Phileas Fogg in a comical version of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days from Disney, with Jackie Chan, Ambassador Mercy in Marie Antoinette, Bruce Tick in Sweet Revenge, and Octavius in Night at the Museum (a role he reprised in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb).
He has also 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.
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 nervous stage presence of Coogan's. 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.
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 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 tabloidpress 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".
Main article: News of the World phone hacking affair
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 now describes himself as an atheist.
Coogan married Caroline Hickman in 2002, and divorced in 2005. Coogan entered rehab for personal issues. He dated model China Chow for three years. In March 2011 Coogan was guest editor for lads magLoaded, 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 relationship with solicitor Anna Cole.
A noted 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.
Coogan's autobiography, Easily Distracted, was published in October 2015.
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."
Awards and nominations
|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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