Comedian Steve Coogan marked his 25th anniversary of his BBC debut with 'This Time with Alan Partridge' in the UK in February, and BBC Brit started screening the series late in June .
The show is a mix of consumer affairs, current affairs, and lightweight frothy drivel.
Co-written by brothers Neil and Rob Gibbons, it’s also witty and inventive.
We spoke to Coogan to find out more about his character and writing process.
Tell us about the writing process?
It is pretty chaotic. Sometimes we will reach an impasse, where someone thinks a line is funny and someone else thinks it is superfluous. But we don’t care enough to fight over it.
Does the script evolve on set?
Yes. It was very, very prepared, but there were also elements of honing on set, trying to make things a little bit better. All the same, once the script is settled, it’s pretty much locked in. So every pause and beat is scripted. It appears random, but there is actually a lot of surgical, technical work involved.
Do you vet the jokes carefully?
Yes. When we write them, we all have to laugh at them. If something new that’s funny comes up, we might throw it in there. But you have to be careful you don’t confuse a new joke with a better joke.
What’s your favourite moment in 'This Time with Alan Partridge'?
In one scene, I interviewed my doppelgänger, who is played by me. He is a working-class Sligo farmer who looks a bit like Alan Partridge. I really enjoyed that. It was the only opportunity I got to do something different in this show.
Does Alan’s political views fit in more with the consensus?
Yes. It’s partly that the world has realigned itself slightly along Alan lines. But he’s also developed. He is not just the same character. He has changed. Look at his views 25 years ago – they were very unreconstructed, uber-conservative Little Englander. Now he’s more nuanced. We find there is more humour to be mined from that.
You’ve done lots of serious films. Would you ever concentrate on those and give up comedy?
No. I’ll still always love comedy. Comedy is a very useful tool for sugaring the pill of more serious topics.
How similar are you to Alan?
There is a Venn diagram where we intersect, but I am different from Alan!
Have you ever thought of retiring Alan?
No. The more success I’ve had in other areas, the more inclined I am to do more Alan. Because I enjoy doing it, and also because I am in a strange situation. Not many people have had comic characters who have been around so long. What that does is empower you because the audience come armed with a lot of information. They already know a lot of stuff. They are tuned in, they pay attention. So you can be more nuanced and subtle.
* This Time with Alan Partridge broadcasts on Fridays at 8pm on BBC Brit.