Steve coogan

Unforgettable story, forgettable film: The Lost King reviewed

The Lost King is a comedy-drama based on the 2012 discovery of the remains of King Richard III beneath a Leicester car park. It’s a terrific story, an unforgettable story, but a fairly forgettable film. It’s directed by Stephen Frears, stars Sally Hawkins (as Philippa Langley, the amateur enthusiast who was proved right despite being sneered at by archaeology experts), and yet it’s somehow underpowered. There’s King Richard, in his cloak and crown, sitting at her kitchen table with his really bad hair True, it offers one of my favourite lines of the year – ‘Boys… Mum’s found Richard III!’ – yet it never quite springs into life. Still, it

Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge problem

Is Steve Coogan a one trick pony? It’s a question that has dogged the Mancunian actor’s career ever since his preening Partridge flapped into the nation’s affections over thirty years ago. Since then, with a couple of notable exceptions (his turn as Stan Laurel was a triumph), Coogan’s projects have been little more than variations on a theme but without the genius of the source material. No matter how hard the actor tries to shake off his past with glossy Hollywood fodder, his polyester-pullovered alter-ego is never far from the surface.  It’s not just Coogan’s diffident northern twang or the shifty owl-like eyes, it’s the whole essence of the man – Hollywood can doll

The chief characteristic so far has been nervousness: Chivalry reviewed

Chivalry – written by and starring Sarah Solemani and Steve Coogan – is a comedy drama about post-#MeToo Hollywood life. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that the show’s chief characteristic so far has been nervousness. Somewhere inside it, you feel, lurks an impulse to really let rip. But if so, Thursday’s first two episodes successfully resisted it. Now and again, we did get some jokes that might just frighten the admittedly neurotic horses of the new Moral Majority. The overall effect, though, was of a game of How Far Can You Go? in which the contestants’ answer was a firm ‘not very’. Still, even this level of unorthodoxy seemed unlikely

In this instance, greed isn’t good: Greed reviewed

Greed is Michael Winterbottom’s satire on the obscenely rich and, in particular, a billionaire, asset-stripping retail tycoon whose resemblance to any living person is purely intentional. (Hello, Sir Philip Green.) Plenty to work with, you would think. Low-hanging fruit and all that. But as the characters are so feebly sketched and the ‘jokes’ — ‘jokes’ in quotation marks; always a bad sign — are so heavy-handed it drags (and drags) rather than flies. Greed is good, greed works, Gordon Gekko famously said in Wall Street. But in this instance it isn’t. And doesn’t. Greed is good, Gordon Gekko famously said in Wall Street. But in this instance it isn’t It

Accidental hero | 28 February 2019

Steve Coogan is back as Alan Partridge but frankly who cares? Like Ali G, I’ve long thought, he’s one of those ‘classic’ 1990s comedy characters funnier in recollection than ever he was in reality. He should have been confined to brief sketches — like Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield mostly did with their cheesy has-been DJs Smashie and Nicey — not cruelly exposed in endless TV series where you’ve got the joke in the first five minutes and the rest is pure cringe. Actually, though, This Time with Alan Partridge (BBC1, Mondays) is genuinely funny, clever and enjoyable because finally he has scriptwriters who don’t hate him. For his original

Love match

You mess with Laurel and Hardy at your peril. Their fan base is essentially the entire world. Samuel Beckett adored them: many think they inspired Waiting For Godot. Eric Morecambe’s reluctance to appear in bed with Ernie Wise melted when he was reminded that Stan and Ollie had used the same conceit. In Poland the duo are known as Flip i Flap, in Germany as Dick und Doof. I once attended a New Year’s Eve party at which the two dozen children present (toddlers to teenagers) were parked in front of a screen with a stack of Laurel and Hardy DVDs — not one of them left the room all

Tom Watson eats humble pie

Ever since the election result, Labour moderates have attempted to put on a brave face when it comes to their feelings about Jeremy Corbyn. After ruling him out as an electoral catastrophe, they now have to work out if their former issues with the man can be put to one side for the good of the party. So, Mr S suspects Tom Watson won’t be overly delighted to hear that an account of his own team’s inner struggles has made its way to The New European. In an interview with Labour backer Steve Coogan, the comedian said his daughter spent much of the campaign helping Labour’s deputy leader in the

All dressed up, nowhere to go

Rules Don’t Apply is Warren Beatty’s first film appearance in 15 years and his first as writer, director, producer and star since Bulworth, 19 years ago. Plenty of time, then, to figure out what he wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it, but Rules is entirely baffling. Is it a tale of Old Hollywood? Is it a biopic of Howard Hughes? Is it a love story? Unfortunately, it can never decide, so tries to be all of the above and therefore succeeds at none. After an onscreen warning from the late Hughes himself — ‘Never check an interesting fact’ — the prologue opens in 1964, but then

Age as allegory

Sky Atlantic — available only to Sky customers — has the cunning/infuriating policy of broadcasting the kind of programmes most likely to appeal to people who pride themselves on not being Sky customers. (Basically, the liberal, metropolitan you-know-what.) Now, to a list that includes Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, we can add The Trip, whose third series Sky has poached from the BBC. Like the first two — set in the Lake District and Italy — The Trip to Spain (Thursday) is directed by Michael Winterbottom and features Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan playing versions of themselves that feel teasingly close to the

Celebrity lives

I learned from this little lot that if one has read The Diary of a Nobody, then one can derive pleasure from even the most pedestrian life story, as there’s always an unintentional chuckle to be had. The former racing driver Nigel Mansell’s Staying on Track (Simon & Schuster, £20) delighted me with its Pooterish charms, from bullied boyhood : One time I was due to race for England abroad. The school announced the exciting news in assembly one morning… that afternoon I was attacked viciously with a cricket bat in the playground. I thought the other children would be proud of me. How wrong can you be? — to

Why should we listen to Benedict Cumberbatch on Syrian refugees?

Because I just don’t know what to think about the Syrian refugee crisis — not even after Simon Schama’s powerfully cogent argument on Question Time the other week, where he explained that if you don’t want to house them all in your guest bedroom you’re basically a Nazi — I thought I might pay the scalps a couple of hundred quid or so to see Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet at the Barbican. Apparently the really exciting bit isn’t anything he does as the Dane but rather Shakespeare’s rarely performed postscript where Hamlet comes back to life in the terrifying form of a preening, hectoring Old Harrovian luvvie to berate the

Is satire a dying art?

I appeared on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago to discuss the age-old question of whether political satire is dead. I don’t think it is, but it has lost a good deal of vitality in recent years and the role of satire in the general election campaign is a case in point. There has been no shortage of ‘satirical’ television programmes, but none of them have cut through. The only sign of life has been the flurry of photoshopped images on Twitter that have followed each misstep of the parties’ campaigns, such as Ed Miliband’s decision to carve Labour’s election pledges on to an eight-foot stone slab. If Stanley

Who is the bigger pillock: Alan Partridge or Steve Coogan?

Those of us who spent our teens quoting Alan Partridge owe a lot to Steve Coogan. He made my adolescence funnier, at any rate. Yet I know several people who imitated Partridge so much they got lost in character: it became difficult to know when they were being themselves. Funnily enough, the same applies to Coogan himself: in his interviews and ‘real’ TV shows, it is often impossible to distinguish between the famous actor and his even more famous creation. During his rants against the Murdoch Empire for Hacked Off, for instance, he could sound very Partridge-like. And his new Labour campaign ad is cheesier than the Partridge promo video for


Another joker comes out for Labour

Eddie Izzard, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan and Russell Brand. What is it with professional funny-men backing Labour? It’s a little odd that when Miliband is trying to show the world what a serious, potential statesman he can be, he puts jokers in Labour’s election broadcasts. Robert Webb, of Mitchell and Webb fame, is the latest to come out for Ed: ‘I don’t need the Labour Party to have the kind of leader you’d want to put on a T-shirt and God knows they continue to oblige me. Ed Miliband’s favourite track is probably “Persuading in the Name Of” by Reform Against the Machine. It’s not my rage he needs, it’s my vote.

Ed West

Unfortunately celebrity endorsements really do matter

Whoever comes top on Thursday, Labour has won the only poll that really matters – that of Britain’s beloved celebrities, with recent endorsements by Steve Coogan, Delia Smith, Robert Webb, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jo Brand, among others. The Tories in contrast can only muster a few self-made businesswomen and Peter Stringfellow. Labour’s most important conquest, however, has to be comedian-turned-people’s poet Russell Brand, who previously suggested that voting was a waste of time, but now backs Ed Miliband. When it comes to this 21st-century political colossus, no one can better Rod Liddle’s words from a few months ago: ‘That’s why I enjoy my mornings in bed with Russell. It’s like a

If it’s not ok to hound Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan, why is it ok to hound Nigel Farage?

Faragephobia reached dizzy new heights on Sunday afternoon, when a bunch of thespians and circus freaks invaded Nigel Farage’s local pub and hounded him and his family out. Behaving with grating and probably knowing irony like small-minded Little Englanders, though dolled up as punkish outsiders, the protesters were basically saying to Nige: ‘Your sort aren’t welcome here — you’re barred!’ And so was a public figure humiliated while doing that utterly non-public thing of lunching with his wife and young daughters — turfed out of his own local hangout by people who don’t like his policies on immigration, the NHS, and other stuff. But this was more that Faragephobia, more than

The Best of Me is more of a sleepie than a weepie – especially when our old friend No Sexual Chemistry makes an appearance

Take tissues to The Best of Me, I’d read, as it’s such a weepie, so I took tissues, being a weeper at weepies — I still dab my eyes whenever I even think about War Horse — but it was rubbish advice. You don’t need tissues for this film. Instead, you need to line up several triple espressos, as many cans of Red Bull as you can reasonably manage, two matchsticks (one for each eye, obviously), replacement matchsticks for when the weight of your eyelids proves too much and they snap, plus a small hammer to knock yourself in the side of your head when you find yourself bored out

Aha! Steve Coogan sticks it to Rupert Murdoch

Mr S would like to draw your attention to two separate articles in the Guardian, which he passes on without so much as a smirk. The actor and comedian Steve Coogan, told the paper in 2011 that he would never let Rupert Murdoch forget the News of the Word hacking scandal: ‘[They are hoping] there will be some big disaster or something that’ll knock it off the front pages and hopefully no one will care anymore. And I will do everything in my power [to prevent that]. ‘Because I’m a more populist person and I reach a more generalised audience that goes beyond broadsheets I can help keep it in

Hacking Trial: the movie

We may have had the verdicts and the sentences in the hacking trial, but the biggest question remains unanswered: who’s going to play everyone in the movie? There’s one clear and obvious frontrunner for the part of Rebekah Brooks: Bonnie Langford. Sadly, however, Ms Langford has heavy panto commitments and cannot be released for filming. So we’ll have to make do with a B-list purveyor of ginge instead – Nicole Kidman, perhaps, or Julianne Moore. (Cate Blanchett might have got a look-in if we’d avoided the temptation to base everything on the hair, but Brooks herself never did so why should we?) Andy Coulson should be played by Ewan McGregor,

Rebekah Brooks takes her place in a perfect picture of modern Britain

What image comes to mind when we think of Britain today? I was moved to contemplate this question after reading the Prime Minister’s inspiring treatise on British values, which seemed to involve ‘being quite nice’ and not referring to other people as kaffir and then trying to blow them up. Fair enough. I suppose — as an image of Britain, Sonny and Cher jihadis bringing their arcane and vicious sandblown squabble to the streets of London is perhaps a more modernist take on John Major’s vision of an old maid cycling to morning communion through the early morning mist. I suppose cyclists should be somewhere in our new vision of