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Steve Coogan: ‘Alan Partridge would love to go out with Liz Truss’

As Alan Partridge returns with the second season of his From The Oasthouse podcast, Steve Coogan catches up with Rolling Stone UK

By Nick Reilly

“Alan Partridge would quite like Liz Truss, because I think he’d love to go out with her,” says Steve Coogan, the man behind one of Britain’s most beloved comedy creations.

The romantic admission emerges as Coogan speaks to Rolling Stone UK to mark the second series of Partridge podcast From The Oasthouse, which sees Norfolk’s most inept broadcaster going all out in a bid to prove that he’s a thoroughly modern man.

It’s a format that works brilliantly for Alan’s foot-in-mouth awkwardness. One episode follows his excruciating attempts to go open swimming in a bid to emulate Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof, while another sees him writing an erotic novel.

But, as Coogan explains in our wide-ranging interview, there’s plenty more adventures for Alan in the future. You can read our interview with Coogan below.

Hi Steve! Where are you?

I’m in the Lake District, where it’s quite rainy but I like it. I’m a dreaded second home owner, the devil during lockdown. It’s where I escape and I just love it.

We’re speaking just days after the Queen’s funeral. As a committed Republican, what have you made of the country’s reaction?

You can think two things at the same time. I felt that any nuance or qualification would get you hung, drawn and quartered. I think The Queen, uniquely among the royals, commanded universal respect even from Republicans like me. She was clearly dedicated to public service, but the blanket coverage of it all became mind-numbing. It really did. The protocols that were written for her death felt like they were 70 years old. There’s just something that doesn’t sit well about 11 days of mourning, however dedicated she was.

From my point of view, comically, it felt like there was loads of stuff for Partridge for it. There was a special episode of Antiques Roadshow where they were on the Royal Yacht Britannia looking at old photos of the Queen. It just felt so nauseatingly twee and removed from ordinary people’s experiences. For the last 12 days or so we’ve been in a parallel universe.

Would Alan Partridge like all the pageantry we’ve seen?

Of course he would! He’d suck it up with a big fat straw.

On that note, series two of From The Oasthouse is here. Where do we find Alan in his life?

I think Alan is conservative at heart, but he’s smart enough to know that in order to stay relevant and not look archaic, you have to have an element of being socially progressive. It’s what David Cameron epitomised, the first Conservative Prime Minister who publicly didn’t mind gay people. A lot of the right like to have pushback against perceived woke thinking, but I think Alan is smart enough to know that you’ve got to be on message. It’s him trying to be a bit more enlightened, but of course it’s more forced behaviour than conviction. It’s political survival. He’s really leaning into fashionable thinking.

You mentioned that Alan is conservative at heart. What would he make of Liz Truss as Prime Minister?

Alan would quite like Liz Truss because I think he’d love to go out with her. He would’ve loved to rewind the clock and become the husband of the Prime Minister. You can appear incredibly important, but it’s all about her. He’d spin that into something vaguely progressive and important.

What’s your take on Liz Truss?

I was watching an old interview of Brian Walden and Margaret Thatcher the other day. I have great antipathy towards Thatcher and that period which was divisive and fostered the nation of the self as opposed to help and community. She was seen as the devil incarnate in my younger years, but she was happy to subject herself to a 45 minute interrogation and she was on top of her stuff and wasn’t scared of having a fight. That’s all qualified by the way, I don’t want anyone thinking I support her!

But my point is that, in comparison, Liz Truss and similar politicians just seem to respond to whichever way the wind is blowing. She’ll promise to cut taxes and do whatever the rank and file want to hear if it gets her elected. There’s no integrity and it’s just poor opportunism. I feel sorry for her dad! He’s clearly a conscientious bloke and it must rank as incredibly disappointing to have your daughter end up as a Conservative Prime Minister.

Could she be a gift to Labour’s chances of winning the next general election?

If Labour win the next election I don’t think it’ll be down to the charisma of Keir Starmer. It’ll be because the Tories have failed. I think it’s a real possibility, but it won’t be because of any great vision. When you’ve been in office for that long you can’t blame what went before you. You have to take the rap and the record is there. Sometimes I think things go in cycles and people want a change. There’s a lot of Tories who think that because of the way the economy is going, the next election would be a good one to lose. I think the smart strategists in the Tory party will see it that way for long term survival. Unfortunately, I can see how some people might think it could also be a bad one for Labour to win. It’s a poisoned chalice and they’re going to get it in the neck if they win. They’ll do one term and then the Tories will get back in for another eight years. That’s what I think will happen.

Going back to Partridge, you recently appeared as a special guest at Coldplay’s Wembley Stadium shows, delivering the character to 80,000 fans and singing Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’

It is pretty mind blowing to be on stage to 80,000 fans. A large contingent of my audience, though not exclusively, is middle-aged white men. I wish it wasn’t, but at my live show there was a queue for the men’s loo and not the women’s. It meant I was pretty sure that thirty to forty percent of the Coldplay audience didn’t know who I was, which makes it even funnier to me! The idea of ‘who’s this guy singing?’ They’ll have been baffled. Chris Martin is a genuinely nice bloke too and asked me very nicely. I couldn’t say no and it was quite an experience.

Just finally, you’ve tackled quite a few formats with Alan Partridge. TV series, films, one-off mock documentaries and now a podcast. Is there anything else that you’d like to see him do?

Yes, actually. I want to do an album of songs as Alan. In the new podcast there’s some songs in there and I’d quite like to extrapolate that. The idea is that Alan has met a guy called Nathan who has a recording studio where he creates jingles. Nathan is a frustrated musician and he’s trying to piggyback his music onto Alan, whose own ideas are a bit crap. An album of songs would be fun to do, just to stick it out there.

We did a couple of documentaries too, which were very funny and I’m quite proud of those. I think that’s the next thing we could do, going around Britain and finding out what defines being British. Taking him around Scotland and Wales for his own Alan odyssey.

Also, the one card I haven’t played is Alan interviewing real people. An actual talk show. I did a similar thing when I spoke to Elton John, Bryan Ferry, Roger Daltrey and Noel Gallagher for Comic Relief and it worked really well. The thing is, you have to get people who are prepared to let you really take the piss out of them. Not everyone is prepared to do that. Some people just can’t take a joke! But there’s so much goodwill to Alan that if we did a talk show I think we’d get some of the most famous people in the world.

Series 2 of From The Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast, is out now.