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Coogan ponders Partridge return

Steve Coogan is making his return to the live stage for the first time in 10 years with his Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters tour. Newsbeat caught up with the comedian to talk about his backstage antics, onstage mishaps and the future for Partridge.

Steve Coogan
Steve Coogan is currently on the road for his first tour in 10 years

What does it feel like to be touring after 10 years away from the stage?

It's been a long time. In the last 10 years, I've been working in film and television. Enjoyable though that is it kind of removes you from the audience.

So it's nice to cut out the middle man and come into contact with the audience again and see who they are. It's quite refreshing.

Did you get first night nerves?

I still have nerves every night. I think you kind of have to be a little bit nervous because it helps you focus. If you're too relaxed then you get a little bit lazy and you need to work hard on stage, you need to get the laughs.

How do you cope with other audience interaction like their reactions to jokes? Did that throw you to start with?

You get a little rusty sometimes and you have to get back into the swing of it. But suddenly it all becomes very familiar. People, when they interact and they shout stuff, you have a few lines up your sleeve and there's a way of dealing with them.

The more relaxed you are, the more you can think on your feet. The more tense and nervous you are, the less likely you are to be able to respond. But I'm kind of in a real groove now so I'm sort of enjoying it.

The tour is called Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters. Do you think that character has overshadowed other comedic stuff you've done?

It's inevitable when you do something which is successful that it is going to have a bigger profile than the other stuff you've done. It's probably the best thing I've done so it doesn't really matter.

As a character he's given me the opportunity to play lots of other characters and to have other opportunities in film and television. So I can't resent him really. And I enjoy playing him, performing him because it's very comfortable.

It's like putting on an old jacket.

Has Alan Partridge had to have a bit of an update?

Yes. Alan has definitely been updated for this show.

Alan Partridge
Steve said he is considering bringing Alan Partridge back to TV
He's had a kind of makeover. So he dresses completely differently now.

He's gone through a sort of a psychological crisis and his part of the show is as a lifestyle coach.

He coaches the audience in how to to turn their lives around. I think he thinks he's a lot trendier than he was but, of course, he's not.

Is there scope to do more with Alan Partridge for TV?

I have mixed feelings. I like doing other stuff.

It's very gratifying to me when I get a good reaction to stuff which is different. I did a BBC series called Sunshine recently that got an incredible reaction.

And that's gratifying to me because it's something which is not what I'm generally known for.

The more that that happens, the more I get endorsements for other things, especially work in America.

The more I do that, the more likely I am to come back and do something with Alan because then it becomes something I do because I want to, not because I have to.

I've got plenty of ideas of what I might do with him but I'm keeping them on the backburner until I decide what I should do.

And also because he's well liked I can't just rush something out. If I was going to do something it would have to be properly thought through.

How do you cope with being on the road?

I like being on the road because it's the closest I get to routine. I do the same show every night, I go back to the hotel and have three glasses of wine and get up at 10am and the whole thing starts all over again. It's fun being on the road, it's like being on a school trip.

Do you have people to help you in and out of the outfits?

It takes me 45 minutes to get my first character Pauline Calf dressed up as a woman. I've got all this make up and corsets and it takes me that long to get in all that stuff and I have to get out of it in two minutes flat.

Pauline Calf
It takes Steve 45 minutes to change into Pauline Calf
It's like a Formula One pit stop change where I go into the wings and there's four people around me who basically yank everything I'm wearing off.

They hand me all these things in a certain sequence and we time it all on a stopwatch before the show starts to see how quick we can get the change done.

You can make one or two mistakes, otherwise you're late going onstage. It's pretty hairy.

Have you ever gone onstage with a missing part of the costume?

Yeah. I've gone on with nails missing for Pauline and I've gone on with a moustache half hanging off my face. You have to pretend to cough and squash it back on. But by and large you get things done on time.

Are you becoming a recognisable face in America?

It's odd in America. I'm quite known in the industry and now the audience has become familiar with me because I've done things like Tropic Thunder and Night At The Museum and I crop up in bigger films.

There's a familiarity to me there. It's actually strange because I did some art house movies with Michael Winterbottom. 24 Hour Party People was the film that oddly got me attention in America.

Your name has been thrown into the hat for the next Dr Who. Is that something you would consider doing?

Well, I think I would be rather good but I might be a little bit too old.

I'm happy to take a meeting with them if they want to call me but I won't be banging on their door with a begging bowl.

Steve Coogan was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Sarah Jane Griffiths.

The Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters tour runs for six nights at London's Hammersmith Apollo until 15 November before taking in dates around the country. It finishes in Leeds on 14 December.

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