Steve Coogan wrestled with including Brexit in Alan Partridge's return

Maev Kennedy
Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge. An end-of-year special will precede a new series in spring 2018. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Realising that Britain had linked arms with Alan Partridge and voted for Brexit caused a crisis of confidence for his creator, Steve Coogan. It was only after some soul-searching that the comedian opted to include the decision to leave the EU in his alter ego’s return to the BBC.

“The world has coalesced into a situation that is sympathetic to Alan, which for me is quite depressing,” Coogan told the Radio Times. “Sometimes I agree with Alan, but on Brexit I’m a remainer, and I feel quite conflicted about it. But the fact is having a fool praise something is a far more powerful indictment than just criticising it.

“Alan can be like the boy who says the emperor’s wearing no clothes.”

Partridge and Coogan are back on the BBC for an end-of-year special and a new series in spring 2018, following a few digressions into print and to Sky Atlantic, after Partridge’s career as sports commentator, presenter and pundit was shunted into the sidings of a professional life on Radio Norwich and domestic life in a motel room.

Coogan has been playing Partridge for half his life, since the character was born in the 1991 Radio 4 comedy On The Hour. He crossed to television in The Day Today, but rapidly outgrew the sketch format, moving into Coogan’s Bafta-winning television show, I’m Alan Partridge.

The comedian admitted much of Partridge is recognisably Cooganish and that the character allowed him to say things that would “probably be career-ending” if he came out with them. He described Partridge as an albatross around his neck until he started working on other projects including The Trip and the Oscar-nominated film Philomena.

Coogan said he still has the character’s V-neck golf sweater, bought for £50 in 1991 and kept in a zipped bag in his home. He paid for it himself and said: “I never claimed back the tax on it. I get it out sometimes and stare at it, and think about how that investment worked.”