Ah-ha! Coogan takes on role as angry ex-roadie

Click to follow
The Independent Online

He is best known for his alter ego as a cheesy chat show host, but in his latest comedy, Steve Coogan will take on the persona of an angry ex-roadie.

In the new BBC2 comedy, Saxondale, Coogan will play a man with anger management issues and his own pest control business in Stevenage. It is a far cry from Alan Partridge, the Norwich-based television presenter, whose original show title was lifted from the Abba song, "Knowing Me, Knowing You".

His character, Tommy Saxondale, has recently been through a hostile divorce and now lives with his girlfriend Magz, who runs an anarchic T-shirt shop called Smash the System.

According to BBC programme publicity, "Tommy regards himself as a maverick and a free thinker ... but as well as Pharaoh Ants, mice and moths, Tommy also has to battle with snowboarders, pigeon lovers and people who talk about house prices."

Coogan said: "The joke with Partridge was always at Alan's expense, whereas Tom is genuinely witty ... while still being a bit of a dick."

The BBC has commissioned seven half-hour episodes of the comedy from Baby Cow, Coogan's independent production company. Scenes will include Saxondale having his eyesight improved by a prostitute, almost befriending a celebrity, knee-capping an annoying hippy and experimenting with women's make-up.

Lucy Lumsden, head of comedy commissioning for the BBC, said: "Steve's created a wonderful character in Tommy, an ex-roadie turned pest controller with some serious anger issues."

Saxondale, co-written by Coogan and Neil Maclennan, will also star Ruth Jones, of Nighty Night and Little Britain, as Magz, and The Rotters' Club actor Rasmus Hardiker as naïve assistant Raymond. There will be guest appearances from Morwenna Banks, Alexander Armstrong and Liza Tarbuck.

Last month it emerged that Coogan had put on hold plans for Alan Partridge: The Movie, which he was co-writing with Patrick Marber, which is said to feature an al-Qa'ida siege.

Coogan has several big screen credits to his name, including Michael Winterbottom's recent film A Cock And Bull Story, where he appeared with Rob Brydon in an intricate plot about actors making a movie of Laurence Sterne's "unfilmable" novel, Tristram Shandy.

He also starred in Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People as the Manchester music impresario Anthony H Wilson and played Phileas Fogg in Around The World In 80 Days. Trained at what was then Manchester Polytechnic's School of Theatre, the comedian launched Alan Partridge in the Radio 4 show Knowing Me, Knowing You in 1992. He was given his own television show in 1995, which later became I'm Alan Partridge.

At the same time, he played a series of comic characters including low lifer Paul Calf and crooner Tony Ferrino in the sketch show Coogan's Run.

In 1999, Coogan set up Baby Cow with Henry Normal, whose credits include The Fast Show and The Royle Family. Baby Cow was responsible for making Brydon famous in Human Remains and Marion and Geoff and also produced Julia Davis's award-winning comedy Nighty Night.