Steve Coogan: 'I still remember the critic who gave me bad Edinburgh Fringe review'

Steve Coogan has recalled when he was given a terrible review while at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival nearly 30 years ago, joking that he still "keeps tabs" on the reviewer.
Steve Coogan was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival (Photo: Shutterstock)Steve Coogan was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival (Photo: Shutterstock)
Steve Coogan was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival (Photo: Shutterstock)

Speaking in conversation at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the comedian said: "I did a show with Frank Skinner 28 years ago, there was a review in The List that said basically he was very funny and I was shit.

"And I went home, and Frank had hidden it under the sofa so I couldn't read it, which was very kind of him, but I found it and I still remember the name of the reviewer.

Alan Partridge is returning to the BBC later this year (Photo: BBC)Alan Partridge is returning to the BBC later this year (Photo: BBC)
Alan Partridge is returning to the BBC later this year (Photo: BBC)

"I try to keep tabs on them still."

Resurrecting Alan Partridge

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Coogan last appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1992 when he appeared alongside Cold Feet actor John Thompson in show Steve Coogan in Character with John Thompson.

The pair were awarded the Best Comedy Show at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, then known as the Perrier Comedy Awards.

Two years later Coogan introduced the world to his most famous creation Alan Partridge in shows Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge and The Day Today.

Later this year Alan Partridge will return to the small screen - and the BBC - with talk show This Time with Alan Partridge.

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Coogan revealed details of Partridge's return to the Edinburgh audience, including the BBC's reasons for re-recruiting the veteran presenter: "We felt like with Brexit the BBC might send round memos saying we're underrepresented in certain sectors which Alan strangely fits into.

"He worms his way back into the BBC and then it's about hanging on"

'Victim of own success'

Coogan, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his production company Baby Cow next year, admitted that he was reluctant to return as Alan Partridge before he co-wrote, co-produced and starred in. 2013 film Philomena.

While working on Will Ferrell film The Other Guys he admits that he became disillusioned by comedy.

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He said: "I wanted to do drama, I was getting frustrated. I have two hats, my Baby Cow producer hat and a regular off-the-shelf neurotic actor hat, and so I had that hat on. I was looking for something, and I realised that if I wanted to do something more satisfying, I had to do it myself.

"You become a victim of your success, you become pigeonholed. I wanted to do something different. I found that in this business, you get all of this advice about what to do, and in the end, you'd be as well to toss a coin about a decision, or go with your instincts.

"So for the first time ever, I didn't tell my agent what I was doing. I decided I was going to try to make (Philomena's story) into a film."

He added that when he was a child he had always longed to make a comedy character like Basil Fawlty, but that he had done that with Alan Partridge, so he was like: "Well, what do I do now?"

Edinburgh Fringe recommendations

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The legendary comic's visit to Edinburgh, of course, coincides with the Edinburgh Fringe. And, Coogan admits that he had spent time observing a new breed of comedic talent.

Speaking about the world's largest comedy festival, Coogan stated: "I'm more interested in seeing a rough diamond than professional mediocrity.

Coogan reserved particular praise for comedian Kieran Hodgson who is currently performing his show '75.

I saw Kieran Hodgson and I loved him. I admired what Kieran did, because it was his own voice, it was authentic."