Steve Coogan reveals what fans can expect from Alan Partridge's upcoming Stratagem tour

Virgin Radio

15 Feb 2022, 12:16

Credit: Rex

Credit: Rex

Comedian, writer and actor Steve Coogan joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about taking his legendary character Alan Partridge on a UK live tour. 

Steve returns as Alan in April, with a tour of the stage-show Stratagem With Alan Partridge. When Chris asked where the longstanding character came from in the first place, all those years ago, Steve said: “In reality or fiction? In reality, he came from working with Patrick Marber and Armando Iannucci on a show called The Day Today, and Knowing Me, Knowing You, in the 1990s. He’s basically from the 90s, and he’s still here! The fictional Partridge, he’s from Norwich, he’s a local radio DJ that had a moment in the sun, and then it all went terribly for him.”

Steve joked: “He’s back on TV, and he’s not doing badly, for one of those washed-up, middle-aged radio DJs!”

When explaining what audiences can expect from the brand new stage show, the comedian said: “The tour will be talking about all those thorny topics that are full of cowpats that people can stand in, especially white, middle-aged men.” 

He continued: “The show is basically Alan saying anyone who’s got a problem, is frustrated, has got confidence issues, has got a phobia, or has got a spiritual deficit in their life, Alan wants them to come to the live show, and he will put all that right. He will be a life-coach, a sort of life-guru.

“The first half will be Alan trying to be profound and clever, with a polo-neck and a headset, and the second half will be more all-singing, all-dancing. So, work first, and then we can play!”

When Chris asked Steve for a couple more highlights to look forward to from the live show, Steve told him: “Alan will be piloting his new quiz show on stage. Alan will be talking to himself as a child. Using the magic of theatre, Alan will go back in time and chat to himself as an 11-year-old boy. He basically rips off Christmas Carol, but you’re not supposed to know that, and he’ll go back and then talk to himself in the future as an old man.” 

The actor/comedian/writer behind Partridge continued: “In all seriousness, if people are feeling a bit down about stuff, especially post-Covid, everybody could do with a laugh, if you come along, it’s one of those sort of things where you think, ‘Whatever is going on in my life, at least I’m not him.’ 

“He’s sort of like someone trying to catch up with modern thinking, so Alan will be talking about all the current topics that obsess millennials and Generation Xers. He’s desperate to be relevant. He wants to talk about all of those things that everyone else is talking about and try and understand.” 

Steve added: “And, of course, the other thing is, you can actually have a lot of fun, because occasionally, although he says stupid things, sometime he says what’s actually profoundly true, but people are too scared to say. He sometimes inadvertently bursts bubbles.”

The live show was written by Steve and regular Partridge collaborators, Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons. When talking about how to create the words that come out of Alan’s mouth, Steve said: “Sometimes you might make a joke where Alan appears to be prejudiced in some way, and obviously he is, but you’ve got to try and make sure that the joke is always on Alan, and that you’re not laughing along with the prejudice, you’re laughing at the prejudice, if you like.

“We don’t spend too long policing ourselves. We just trust our instincts. The general rule, I think, when you do comedy, is punch up, don’t punch down. Don’t pick on people who can’t defend themselves, pick on people who should be held accountable… the government, people in power, people who call the shots.”

Steve has had a difficult relationship with Alan. He told Chris: “There was a point where I was feeling it was an albatross around my neck, but since I’ve been fortunate enough to work on other things, like films I’ve written and more serious stuff… he’s like an annoying friend, and I’ve come to terms with that.

“So I can do my other stuff, and I love coming back to visit Alan when I start to miss him.”

The comedian’s relationship with his Norfolk-based character has even reached a stage where he can watch himself playing Partridge on the telly. “When I’m on my own at home, I don’t think, ‘Mmm,’ and rub my hands together, ‘I’ll watch some of me!’” he laughed, before adding: “If I’m channel-hopping and I come across myself, I might pause and think, ‘Oh that was quite funny.’ 

“When I see myself as Alan, I do laugh if it’s funny, because I’m laughing at this fool called Alan Partridge, and I feel a disconnect with it.”

“But I do wander along the street sometimes and I think, ‘Oh that would be funny for Alan to say.’”

For tickets to Stratagem With Alan Partridge visit

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.