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The actor and comedian Steve Coogan. ( )

Steve Coogan: From a Partridge to 'Cock and Bull'

Jan 17, 2006 (Fresh Air from WHYY)

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Comedian, writer, producer and actor Steve Coogan is an icon of British comedy. A trained actor, Coogan's recurring character Alan Partridge embodies the bluster that often propels the modern media.

Mining the world of infotainment for laughs, Coogan has portrayed Partridge in various states of misguided self-importance.

There was the stint as host of a doomed BBC "chat show", and Partridge's attempts to revive his career as an early-morning DJ in Norwich, where he lived in a motel.

The former show was not unlike Garry Shandling's The Larry Sanders Show on HBO; the latter is similar to the same network's Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry David, like Partridge, consistently fails to reconcile his inflated self-regard with the small details of life.

Coogan's new movie, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, interprets the comic novel by Laurence Sterne — often thought to be unfilmable — onto the big screen.

In an admission of the book's entrenched difficulty, director Michael Winterbottom sets part of the movie in the present — where a film team struggles to translate expansive, interwoven scenes created in the 18th century fit onto the stage of 21st century movie-making.

As part of that ploy, Coogan's life is mined for its own tumultuous detail, from his family life — including a six-month-old baby — to agents, financing worries and the media.

Coogan's previous film credits include Don Roos' recent Happy Endings; Around the World in 80 Days; Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes and the paean to Manchester music 24 Hour Party People.

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