baby cow

baby cow

baby cow
baby cow

Baby Cow Productions Ltd is a British comedy television production company based in London and Manchester, founded by Steve Coogan and Henry Normal. Since its establishment it has diversified into radio, animation and film. According to their website, Baby Cow “produces bold, high-quality scripted entertainment across all genres for television, film and radio.”[1] The company’s name is a reference to Coogan’s early characters Paul and Pauline Calf.

Baby Cow Productions is a publicly held company which employs between 11 and 50 employees at any one time.

The company was founded in 1999 by Steve Coogan and Henry Normal, with Coogan assuming the role of Creative Director and Normal assuming the role of CEO.

In 2008, BBC Worldwide bought a 25% stake in the company. The acquisition was made at a time when BBC Worldwide was being criticised for its “out of control” ventures, though Normal told The Guardian that BBC Worldwide had not made the highest bid.[2]

baby cow

In April 2016, Henry Normal stood down as CEO and left the full time position. He remained a consultant of the company for the following year and supported the company while they looked to replace him. Coogan then assumed a broader role as part of his transition.

Upon his departure, Normal commented that “After sixteen and a half years I’ve decided to take a long overdue break from TV and film production to pursue creative endeavours in other fields. I’m very proud to have been part of a company that has nurtured young talent, sought out originality and produced quality award-winning shows year after year. Steve has such a great team around him and with further support from BBC Worldwide, I know Baby Cow will achieve even greater success in the years to come.” Coogan then went on to add that “Henry has devoted himself brilliantly to the company over the years and deserves to pursue more personal projects. I salute him. He leaves behind a passionate team with great taste and the company he co-founded is in a strong place to grow.”[3]

Normal was eventually replaced with Christine Langan, who was the current CEO until November 2020.[4] She left her role as head of BBC Films for the job. BBC Worldwide then increased their stake in the company to 73% after Normal’s departure.[5] Langan has taken an executive producer role on every Baby Cow productions since she took the job including Camping, The Killing Machine, This Time with Alan Partridge and a new show entitled The Witchfinders which is currently in development (as of Nov 2021)[citation needed].

[1]

BBC Studios is a British content company and commercial subsidiary of the BBC. It was formed in April 2018 through the merger of the BBC’s commercial production arm and the BBC’s commercial international distribution arm, BBC Worldwide. BBC Studios creates, develops, produces, distributes, broadcasts, finances and sells content around the world, returning around £200m to the BBC annually in dividends and content investment.[2]

BBC Studios Productions brings together the majority of BBC Television’s former in-house production departments; Factual, Drama, Comedy, (both combined as Scripted in the new division), Entertainment, and Music & Events.[3] BBC Children’s production is set to move into BBC Studios Productions from April 2022 to increase the potential of taking British children’s content to the wider global market, along with BBC Three’s in-house production team, which is joining from April 2021.[4]

BBC News and BBC Radio remain separate internal production divisions in the BBC (although BBC Radio Comedy is part of BBC Studios), and the rest of the former BBC Television division (channels and genre commissioning, including BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer) are part of the BBC Content division.

The BBC Studios production division was formed in 2016 and launched as a commercial entity in 2017,[5] enabling it to produce programming for other broadcasters and services to generate profit to return to the BBC to supplement licence fee income. In exchange, the BBC agreed to place production of much of its non-news programmes to tender, allowing third-party independents to compete with BBC Studios on bids to produce them.

baby cow

The merger of BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide in 2018, brought the company in line with other major multinational studio conglomerates.

BBC Studios Productions was the UK’s most commissioned creator of new content in 2019, with 77 new commissions from the BBC and third-parties. It achieved 73 awards and 202 nominations in 2019/2020.[6][7]

BBC Studios represents formats and programmes made by hundreds of independent producers, as well as its own production teams and returned £176m to the independent sector in 2018/2019.[8]

The company is on track to meet its five-year target of returning £1.2bn to the BBC by 2021/2022.[4] BBC Studios has committed to growing this total by a further 30% to a new target of £1.5bn in the five years from 2022/2023.[9]

BBC Studios Ltd. as a production company was first registered on 27 February 2015.[10] In September 2015, the BBC’s general director Tony Hall announced a proposal to split the BBC’s in-house production units for non-news television programming into a separate BBC Studios division, which would eventually, with BBC Trust approval as part of the next revision to the BBC’s charter, be spun-out as a for-profit subsidiary of the BBC. This proposal would allow the BBC’s units to produce programmes for other broadcasters and digital outlets (which could be done in conjunction with its international distribution arm BBC Worldwide) in addition to the BBC’s publicly funded properties. As a for-profit company, BBC Studios would be allowed to pay higher wages to its executives and talent, and no longer face scrutiny over them as it did as a public entity.[11] The proposal was described by The Guardian as being “one of the biggest changes to the BBC in its 93-year history”.[12]

The proposal attracted criticism from independent studios, who felt that it would result in the formation of a “super-indie” that would unduly benefit from “guaranteed” programme commissions from the BBC. As part of the split, the BBC planned to tender its programmes, so that independent producers and BBC Studios could bid for the rights to produce its non-news programming, outside of top shows (such as Doctor Who) assigned to BBC Studios.[11] The re-organisation and formation of BBC Studios as a division of the BBC was completed in April 2016.[13] In September 2016, the BBC announced that it would tender its non-news programmes over the next 11 years, beginning with programmes such as A Question of Sport, Holby City and Songs of Praise.[14][15][16]

  • represent the unity power factor.
  • In October 2016, the BBC announced that it planned to lay off 300 employees from the division seen as redundant.[12] In December 2016, BBC Studios announced that it had reached an agreement with Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) in regards to the tendering plan, stating that it would tender at least 40% of the “in-house guarantee” within two years of approval of the transition.[17] The BBC Trust subsequently approved the creation of BBC Studios as a commercial subsidiary, with the process expected to be completed in April 2017.[16][18][19]

    On 29 November 2017, the BBC announced that BBC Worldwide would be merged into BBC Studios effective 1 April 2018. The BBC stated that by handling both the production and sales of its programming within one unit, it would improve efficiency and be in line with the “global norms” of other major international media companies.[20][21] Technically, BBC Ventures Group Ltd.[note 1] was renamed BBC Studios Group Ltd. on 3 April 2018, and then BBC Studios Ltd. 1 October 2018;[22] also in October, the production company established in 2015 was renamed BBC Studios Productions Ltd.,[10] and so did BBC Worldwide Ltd., which was renamed BBC Studios Distribution Ltd.[23]

    In April 2019, BBC Studios announced various agreements with Discovery, Inc.; the companies agreed to break apart their UKTV joint venture, with Discovery (which had acquired a stake in UKTV after its purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive) acquiring the BBC’s stake in UKTV’s lifestyle channels, and BBC Studios likewise acquiring Discovery’s stakes in UKTV’s entertainment channels and video on-demand service UKTV Play. In addition, Discovery announced a 10-year agreement with the BBC’s Natural History Unit to acquire exclusive subscription video-on-demand rights to its content worldwide (which would be incorporated into a forthcoming global streaming brand), and co-fund a development team. Discovery had previously served as the Natural History’s Unit U.S. partner until 2013.[24][25]

    In August 2019 BBC Studios announced a long-term deal with WarnerMedia’s upcoming HBO Max for streaming rights to past seasons of top BBC programmes such as Doctor Who, The Honourable Woman, Luther, and Top Gear.[26] In January 2020, it also sold second-window streaming rights to 14 series to CW Seed (a video on-demand platform operated by The CW, a television network co-owned by WarnerMedia).[27]

    In November 2020, BBC Studios 2019/2020 UK Pay Gap Report was published, which showed that all median pay gaps were now below 10% and that women made up 53.2% of leadership roles. The report also voluntarily disclosed BBC Studios bonus pay gaps by ethnicity, disability and sexuality for the first time, as well as more detail on the three payment types that make up BBC Studios’ overall bonus pay gaps.[28][29]

    In November 2020, BBC Studios Productions announced it was introducing new steps to improve diversity and inclusion across its content and teams, including an ‘Inclusion Rider’, spearheaded by Director of Content Ralph Lee. This sees a commitment to a minimum target of 20% of on-screen talent and production teams on all new BBC and third-party UK commissions coming from a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, having a lived experience of a disability, or being from a low-income background. There was also an additional commitment to a target of at least one senior role on scripted and unscripted production teams being appointed from one of these backgrounds.[30][31]

    In February 2021, BBC Studios launched a new streaming brand in North America known as BBC Select, dedicated to factual content.[32] On 22 February 2021, BBC Studios signed a first-look deal with Gobstopper Group.[33]

    In March 2021 it was announced that the BBC Children’s Productions and BBC Global News units would also be transferred into BBC Studios. With the change, BBC Studios will handle international distribution and advertising sales for BBC World News, while the public service BBC News operation will assume editorial control of the channel.[34][35] More recently, the studio had set up a development deal with EbonyLife Media, which was affiliated with Sony Pictures Television, headed by Mo Abudu.[36]

    [46]

    Stephen John Coogan (/ˈkuːɡən/; born 14 October 1965) is an English actor, comedian, producer and screenwriter. He began his career in the 1980s as a voice actor on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image and providing voice-overs for television advertisements. In the 1990s, he began creating original characters. In 1999, he co-founded the production company Baby Cow Productions with Henry Normal.

    While working with Armando Iannucci on On the Hour and The Day Today, Coogan developed the character of Alan Partridge, a socially inept and politically incorrect media personality. Partridge has featured in several television series and the 2013 film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Coogan grew in prominence in the film industry in 2002, after starring in The Parole Officer and 24 Hour Party People. He continued to appear in films such as Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Tropic Thunder (2008), The Other Guys (2010), Ruby Sparks (2012), and the Night at the Museum films. He co-starred as himself with Rob Brydon in A Cock and Bull Story (2005) and The Trip (2010) and its sequels.

    Coogan has also played dramatic roles, including Marie Antoinette (2006), What Maisie Knew (2012), and portrayed Paul Raymond in the biographical film The Look of Love (2013) and Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie (2018). In 2013, he co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film Philomena,[2] which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

    Stephen John Coogan[3] was born on 14 October 1965 in Middleton, Lancashire,[4][5] the son of housewife Kathleen (née Coonan) and IBM engineer Anthony “Tony” Coogan.[6][7] He has four brothers and one sister,[8] and was raised Roman Catholic in a “lower-middle or upper-working class” family which emphasised the values of education.[9] His younger brother Brendan went on to present Top Gear, while his elder brother Martin became the lead singer of rock band the Mock Turtles.

    baby cow

    Coogan’s mother is Irish and hails from County Mayo, while his father is also of Irish descent, his paternal grandparents – Margaret (from County Kilkenny) and Thomas Coogan (a tailor from County Cork) – having settled in Manchester shortly before the First World War.[10][11] During the 1950s, his paternal grandfather established a dance hall for Irish immigrants.[9] Coogan attended St. Margaret Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School and Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School.[12][13] He has stated that he had a happy childhood, and his parents fostered children on a short-term basis.[14]

    As a family, it was assumed that all the children would become teachers.[9] Coogan had a talent for impersonation and wanted to go to drama school, despite being advised by a teacher that it could lead to a precarious profession.[14] After five failed applications to various drama schools in London, he received a place at the New Music theatre company before gaining a place at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama,[14] where he met future collaborator John Thomson.

    Coogan began his career as a comic and impressionist, performing regularly in Ipswich, before working as a voice artist for television advertisements and the satirical puppet show Spitting Image.[15] In 1989, he appeared in a series of specially shot sketches in the Observation round in the long-running ITV game show The Krypton Factor. In 1992, Coogan won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for his performance with long-time collaborator John Thomson, and starred alongside him and Caroline Aherne in a one-off Granada TV sketch show, The Dead Good Show. His most prominent characters developed at this time were Paul Calf, a stereotypical working class Mancunian, and his sister Pauline, played by Coogan in drag.

    While working on the Radio 4 comedy On the Hour, Coogan created Alan Partridge, a parody of British television personalities, with producer Armando Iannucci. Coogan described Partridge as a Little Englander, with right-wing values and poor taste.[16] He is socially inept, often offending his guests,[17] and has an inflated sense of importance and celebrity.[18] According to Coogan, Partridge was originally a “one-note, sketchy character”[19] and “freak show”, but slowly became refined as a dysfunctional alter ego.[20]

    In 1992, Partridge hosted a spin-off Radio 4 spoof chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge. On the Hour transferred to television as The Day Today in 1994,[21] followed by Knowing Me, Knowing You later that year.[22] In 1997, Coogan starred as Partridge in a BBC sitcom, I’m Alan Partridge, written by Coogan, Iannucci and Peter Baynham, following Partridge’s life in a roadside hotel working for a small radio station.[16] It earned two BAFTAs[23] and was followed by a second series in 2002.[16] After I’m Alan Partridge, Coogan tired of Partridge and limited him to smaller roles.[24] Coogan said he did not want to say goodbye to Partridge, and that “as long as I can do my other things, that, to me, is the perfect balance”.[25] He later said that Partridge had once been an “albatross” but had become “a battered, comfortable old leather jacket”.[26]

    Partridge returned in 2010 with a series of shorts, Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, written with new writers Rob and Neil Gibbons.[27] It was followed by the spoof memoirs I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan (2011)[28] and Nomad (2016),[29] the feature film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013),[30] and several TV specials.[31][32] In 2019, Partridge returned to the BBC with This Time with Alan Partridge, a spoof of magazine shows such as The One Show,[33] followed by an Audible podcast, From the Oasthouse, in 2020.[34]

  • how many prepositions are there in the pledge
  • Critics have praised Partridge’s complexity, realism and pathos. Vanity Fair called him a British national treasure[35] and the Guardian described him as “one of the greatest and most beloved comic creations of the last few decades”.[36] Partridge is credited with influencing cringe comedies such as The Inbetweeners, Nighty Night and Peep Show.[37] In 2001 a poll by Channel 4, Partridge was voted seventh on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.[38]

    Paul Calf began as a character named ‘Duncan Disorderly’ in Coogan’s early stand-up routines. Calf first came to wider public notice in 1993, with several appearances on Saturday Zoo, a late-night variety show presented by Jonathan Ross on Channel 4. Paul has appeared in two video diaries, an episode of Coogan’s Run, and in various stand-up performances. He is an unemployed Mancunian wastrel with a particular hatred of students. His catchphrase, spoken to disparage something or someone, is “Bag o’ shite”. Paul lives in a council house in the fictional town of Ottle with his mother and his sister, Pauline Calf (also played by Coogan). His father, Pete Calf (played by Coogan in Coogan’s Run) died some time before the first video diary was made. For a long time he was obsessed with getting back together with his ex-girlfriend, Julie. Paul’s best friend is “Fat” Bob (played by John Thomson), a car mechanic who eventually married Pauline. Paul supports Manchester City and is very partial to Wagon Wheels. He wears Burton suits, sports a bleached mullet hairstyle, and drives a Ford Cortina. Pauline Calf’s Wedding Video, also known as Three Fights, Two Weddings and a Funeral, won the 1995 BAFTA award for Best Comedy.[39]

    Other Coogan creations include Tommy Saxondale, Duncan Thicket, Ernest Eckler and Portuguese Eurovision Song Contest winner Tony Ferrino. Duncan Thicket has appeared in a tour of live shows. Other TV shows he has starred in include Coogan’s Run, Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible, Monkey Trousers and Saxondale. Coogan has provided voices for the animated series I Am Not an Animal and Bob and Margaret, two Christmas specials featuring Robbie the Reindeer, and an episode of the BBC Radio Four spoof sci-fi series Nebulous.

    He played the Gnat in the 1998 TV adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass starring Kate Beckinsale, and also starred in BBC2’s The Private Life of Samuel Pepys in 2003, and Cruise of the Gods in 2002. In 2006, he had a cameo in the Little Britain Christmas special as a pilot taking Lou and Andy to Disneyland. In 2007, Coogan played a psychiatrist on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, and in 2008, starred in the BBC1 drama Sunshine.

    In 2010, he worked again with Brydon and Michael Winterbottom for the partially improvised BBC2 sitcom The Trip, in which he and Brydon tour northern restaurants.[40] He is set to play Jimmy Savile, the British television presenter and sex offender, in an upcoming BBC One series. Coogan said he did not take the decision to play Savile lightly, and that it was a “horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told”.[41]

    Notable film roles include Factory Records boss Tony Wilson in the film 24 Hour Party People and Octavius in the Night at the Museum films.

    He has played himself several times on screen. First, in one of the vignettes of Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes, alongside Alfred Molina. Second, in 2006 Coogan starred with Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story, a self-referential film of the “unfilmable” self-referential novel Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. In the film, Coogan plays a fictional, womanising version of himself. Thirdly, he played himself in the 2010 film The Trip. He worked again with director Winterbottom in The Look of Love, about ’50s porn-king Paul Raymond. His fourth time playing himself on screen was in the 2014 film The Trip to Italy, a film about him and Rob Brydon taking a food-tasting trip through Italy, followed by The Trip to Spain (2017)[42] and The Trip to Greece (2020)[43]

    The first film that he co-wrote with Henry Normal was The Parole Officer, in which he also acted alongside Ben Miller and Lena Headey. Coogan has an uncredited cameo in Hot Fuzz, scripted by Shaun of the Dead writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Coogan also starred in The Night at the Museum trilogy in which he played Octavius, a miniature Roman general figure, alongside Owen Wilson’s Jedediah, a miniature cowboy figure.

    Coogan’s most acclaimed work to date is the drama-comedy Philomena, which he co-wrote, produced, and starred in with Judi Dench.[44] This performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination, among many other nominations (and some wins). Philomena was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2018, Coogan played English comedian Stan Laurel in the film biopic Stan & Ollie, starring opposite American actor John C. Reilly who played Oliver Hardy.[45] In September 2020 Coogan announced that he will star in an upcoming movie about finding the bones of King Richard III.[46]

    In March 2008, it was confirmed that Coogan would return to doing comedy as part of his first stand-up tour in ten years. The tour, named “Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge and other less successful characters”, saw the return of some of his old characters including Paul Calf and Alan Partridge.[47] Reviews of the tour were mixed.[48][49][50] Much of the criticism focused on the apparent unrehearsed quality of some of the performances and on Coogan’s nervous stage presence. Chortle comedy guide described it as “most definitely a show of two-halves: the superlative Alan Partridge plus a collection of characters that are not only less successful, but woefully less funny”.[51]

    As the tour progressed and the problems were ironed out, reviews were very positive. Dominic Maxwell of The Times described the show as “twice as entertaining as most other comedy shows this year”.[52] Brian Logan of The Guardian awarded it four stars and described it as “shamelessly funny”.[53] Reviews such as the one from the Trent FM Arena exemplified how much the show had improved after dealing with the glitches on its first few dates: “When Steve Coogan first brought this show to Nottingham last month, the reviews were poor… the intervening weeks have made a big difference, and last night’s audience at the Trent FM Arena went home happy. More please, and soon.”[54]

    In 2009, Coogan was featured, alongside Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Julia Davis, in the spoof documentary TV film Steve Coogan – The Inside Story.[55] The same year he spoke on the influence of Monty Python on his comedy when he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut).[56]

    Coogan, along with his writing partner Henry Normal, founded Baby Cow Productions in 1999. Together, they have served as executive producers for shows such as The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night, Marion and Geoff, Gavin & Stacey, Human Remains and Moone Boy, as well as the Alan Partridge feature film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. They have also produced Where Are the Joneses?, an online sitcom which uses wiki technology to allow the audience to upload scripts and storyline ideas.[57]

    In 2008, BBC Worldwide bought a 25% stake in the production company. It did not offer the largest sum, but was chosen by Coogan and Normal owing to their previous work with and strong connection with the BBC. In 2016, after Henry Normal stood down, Christine Langan (head of BBC Film at the time) was hired by Coogan (creative director of Baby Cow Productions) as the new CEO; this led to BBC Worldwide increasing its stake to 73%.[58]

    Since joining, Langan has executive-produced all of the content from Baby Cow Productions, including Camping, Stan & Ollie, Zapped and The Witchfinder.[citation needed]

    Coogan has said that he likes to “keep [himself] private”, and added: “I have never wanted to be famous, as such – fame is a by-product.”[59] He has been a popular target of the British tabloid press since 1996, and has stated that they have subjected him to entrapment and blackmail, printed obvious lies about him,[60] and have targeted his family and friends in attempts to extract stories from them.[61] Coogan in some cases strongly denied allegations, but in others did not contest them because he wanted to shield vulnerable friends from adverse publicity.[62] The tabloids also published intrusive information about his relationships and the schooling of his child. Coogan has also been critical of the broadsheet press, saying they have colluded with the tabloids in the interests of selling newspapers. In 2005, he said “The Guardian tends to have its cake and eat it. It waits for the tabloids to dish the dirt and then it talks about the tabloids dishing the dirt while enjoying it themselves.”[63] However, he later gave credit to the same newspaper for its investigation of the phone hacking scandal.[64] He has said that the press, by persistently intruding in his private life, has effectively made him “immune” to further attack as his “closet is empty of skeletons”.[65]

    Coogan favours reform and regulation of the British press.[66] He became a prominent figure in the News International phone hacking scandal as one of the celebrities who took action against the British tabloids in light of these events. He was made aware by his phone service provider of “possible anomalies” on his phone in 2005 and 2006.[67] In 2010, Coogan’s legal firm obtained a partially redacted version of Glenn Mulcaire’s hacking notebook by a court order which showed Coogan had been targeted and his personal information was in the possession of Mulcaire.

    Mulcaire was forced by the High Court of Justice to disclose to Coogan’s legal team who amongst the staff at the News of the World ordered him to hack phones. This information was obtained by Coogan’s lawyers on 26 August 2011.[68] Interviewed on Newsnight on 8 July 2011, Coogan said he was “delighted” by the closure of the News of the World and said it was a “fantastic day for journalism”. He said the idea of press freedom was used by the tabloids as a “smokescreen for selling papers with tittle-tattle” and said the argument against press regulation was “morally bankrupt”.[64]

    Coogan provided an eight-page witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry, and appeared at the inquiry on 22 November 2011 to discuss the evidence.[61] He said he was there reluctantly representing a lot of celebrities who felt they could not speak out for fear of reprisals from the tabloid press.[69]

    In March 2021, Coogan said “the tabloid press is controlled by a handful of tax shy billionaires with an agenda. Anyone who stands up to the press is attacked by them because they’re bullies.” He added “the fact that Meghan Markle and Harry were attacked has nothing to do with jet-setting hypocrisy. It’s because they broke the golden rule, which is to leave us alone and we’ll go easy on you next time.”[70]

    Coogan married Caroline Hickman in 2002; they divorced in 2005.[71] He entered rehab for personal issues. He dated model China Chow for three years.[72] In March 2011, Coogan was guest editor for lads mag Loaded, where he met and began dating glamour model Loretta “Elle” Basey.[73] They were together until 2014.[74] He has a daughter, Clare Jane Coogan-Cole, from a previous four-year relationship with solicitor Anna Cole.[75]

    Although raised Catholic, Coogan is now an atheist.[76] A motoring enthusiast, he has owned a succession of Ferrari cars, but stopped buying them after realising that the depreciation and running costs were greater than hiring a private plane.[77] In February 2016, he was fined £670 and banned from driving for 28 days after being caught speeding in Brighton.[78] In August 2019, he escaped the usual six-month ban for a further speeding offence by saying that his next TV series depended on his ability to drive; he was given a two-month ban and a £750 fine.[79] He has been open about his struggle with depression and has said “I will always be a recovering addict”.[80]

    Until 2017, Coogan resided in Ovingdean Grange in Ovingdean, East Sussex.[81]

    Coogan’s autobiography, Easily Distracted, was published in October 2015.[82]

    Coogan announced, on an episode of The Late Late Show, in January 2019, that he was “half-way through” the process of applying for Irish citizenship.[83]

    Coogan supports the Labour Party.[84] He believes that the Conservative Party think “people are plebs” and that “they like to pat people on the head”.[85] In August 2014, Coogan was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.[86]

    In June 2017, Coogan endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 UK general election. He hosted a rally for Corbyn in Birmingham, he opened by saying: “The Tory tactic was to try to make this a choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, but this has backfired as people – and I readily admit to being one of them – have started to listen to what Jeremy Corbyn says rather than what other people have been saying about him.”[87]

    In November 2019, along with other public figures, Coogan signed a letter defending Corbyn, describing him as “a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world” and endorsed him in the 2019 general election.[88] In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, he signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that “Labour’s election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few”.[89][90]

    Coogan’s show Steve Coogan in character with John Thomson was winner of the Perrier Award for best show at the 1992 Edinburgh Fringe. He has won numerous awards for his work in TV including British Comedy Awards, BAFTAs and The South Bank Show award for comedy. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2005, a poll to find the Comedians’ Comedian saw him being voted amongst the top 20 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.[91]


    Evidence to the Leveson InquiryDownloads-icon

    Stephen John Coogan (/ˈkuːɡən/; born 14 October 1965) is an English actor, comedian, producer and screenwriter. He began his career in the 1980s as a voice actor on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image and providing voice-overs for television advertisements. In the 1990s, he began creating original characters. In 1999, he co-founded the production company Baby Cow Productions with Henry Normal.

    While working with Armando Iannucci on On the Hour and The Day Today, Coogan developed the character of Alan Partridge, a socially inept and politically incorrect media personality. Partridge has featured in several television series and the 2013 film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Coogan grew in prominence in the film industry in 2002, after starring in The Parole Officer and 24 Hour Party People. He continued to appear in films such as Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Tropic Thunder (2008), The Other Guys (2010), Ruby Sparks (2012), and the Night at the Museum films. He co-starred as himself with Rob Brydon in A Cock and Bull Story (2005) and The Trip (2010) and its sequels.

    Coogan has also played dramatic roles, including Marie Antoinette (2006), What Maisie Knew (2012), and portrayed Paul Raymond in the biographical film The Look of Love (2013) and Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie (2018). In 2013, he co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film Philomena,[2] which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

    Stephen John Coogan[3] was born on 14 October 1965 in Middleton, Lancashire,[4][5] the son of housewife Kathleen (née Coonan) and IBM engineer Anthony “Tony” Coogan.[6][7] He has four brothers and one sister,[8] and was raised Roman Catholic in a “lower-middle or upper-working class” family which emphasised the values of education.[9] His younger brother Brendan went on to present Top Gear, while his elder brother Martin became the lead singer of rock band the Mock Turtles.

    baby cow

    Coogan’s mother is Irish and hails from County Mayo, while his father is also of Irish descent, his paternal grandparents – Margaret (from County Kilkenny) and Thomas Coogan (a tailor from County Cork) – having settled in Manchester shortly before the First World War.[10][11] During the 1950s, his paternal grandfather established a dance hall for Irish immigrants.[9] Coogan attended St. Margaret Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School and Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School.[12][13] He has stated that he had a happy childhood, and his parents fostered children on a short-term basis.[14]

    As a family, it was assumed that all the children would become teachers.[9] Coogan had a talent for impersonation and wanted to go to drama school, despite being advised by a teacher that it could lead to a precarious profession.[14] After five failed applications to various drama schools in London, he received a place at the New Music theatre company before gaining a place at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama,[14] where he met future collaborator John Thomson.

    Coogan began his career as a comic and impressionist, performing regularly in Ipswich, before working as a voice artist for television advertisements and the satirical puppet show Spitting Image.[15] In 1989, he appeared in a series of specially shot sketches in the Observation round in the long-running ITV game show The Krypton Factor. In 1992, Coogan won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for his performance with long-time collaborator John Thomson, and starred alongside him and Caroline Aherne in a one-off Granada TV sketch show, The Dead Good Show. His most prominent characters developed at this time were Paul Calf, a stereotypical working class Mancunian, and his sister Pauline, played by Coogan in drag.

    While working on the Radio 4 comedy On the Hour, Coogan created Alan Partridge, a parody of British television personalities, with producer Armando Iannucci. Coogan described Partridge as a Little Englander, with right-wing values and poor taste.[16] He is socially inept, often offending his guests,[17] and has an inflated sense of importance and celebrity.[18] According to Coogan, Partridge was originally a “one-note, sketchy character”[19] and “freak show”, but slowly became refined as a dysfunctional alter ego.[20]

    In 1992, Partridge hosted a spin-off Radio 4 spoof chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge. On the Hour transferred to television as The Day Today in 1994,[21] followed by Knowing Me, Knowing You later that year.[22] In 1997, Coogan starred as Partridge in a BBC sitcom, I’m Alan Partridge, written by Coogan, Iannucci and Peter Baynham, following Partridge’s life in a roadside hotel working for a small radio station.[16] It earned two BAFTAs[23] and was followed by a second series in 2002.[16] After I’m Alan Partridge, Coogan tired of Partridge and limited him to smaller roles.[24] Coogan said he did not want to say goodbye to Partridge, and that “as long as I can do my other things, that, to me, is the perfect balance”.[25] He later said that Partridge had once been an “albatross” but had become “a battered, comfortable old leather jacket”.[26]

    Partridge returned in 2010 with a series of shorts, Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, written with new writers Rob and Neil Gibbons.[27] It was followed by the spoof memoirs I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan (2011)[28] and Nomad (2016),[29] the feature film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013),[30] and several TV specials.[31][32] In 2019, Partridge returned to the BBC with This Time with Alan Partridge, a spoof of magazine shows such as The One Show,[33] followed by an Audible podcast, From the Oasthouse, in 2020.[34]

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  • Critics have praised Partridge’s complexity, realism and pathos. Vanity Fair called him a British national treasure[35] and the Guardian described him as “one of the greatest and most beloved comic creations of the last few decades”.[36] Partridge is credited with influencing cringe comedies such as The Inbetweeners, Nighty Night and Peep Show.[37] In 2001 a poll by Channel 4, Partridge was voted seventh on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.[38]

    Paul Calf began as a character named ‘Duncan Disorderly’ in Coogan’s early stand-up routines. Calf first came to wider public notice in 1993, with several appearances on Saturday Zoo, a late-night variety show presented by Jonathan Ross on Channel 4. Paul has appeared in two video diaries, an episode of Coogan’s Run, and in various stand-up performances. He is an unemployed Mancunian wastrel with a particular hatred of students. His catchphrase, spoken to disparage something or someone, is “Bag o’ shite”. Paul lives in a council house in the fictional town of Ottle with his mother and his sister, Pauline Calf (also played by Coogan). His father, Pete Calf (played by Coogan in Coogan’s Run) died some time before the first video diary was made. For a long time he was obsessed with getting back together with his ex-girlfriend, Julie. Paul’s best friend is “Fat” Bob (played by John Thomson), a car mechanic who eventually married Pauline. Paul supports Manchester City and is very partial to Wagon Wheels. He wears Burton suits, sports a bleached mullet hairstyle, and drives a Ford Cortina. Pauline Calf’s Wedding Video, also known as Three Fights, Two Weddings and a Funeral, won the 1995 BAFTA award for Best Comedy.[39]

    Other Coogan creations include Tommy Saxondale, Duncan Thicket, Ernest Eckler and Portuguese Eurovision Song Contest winner Tony Ferrino. Duncan Thicket has appeared in a tour of live shows. Other TV shows he has starred in include Coogan’s Run, Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible, Monkey Trousers and Saxondale. Coogan has provided voices for the animated series I Am Not an Animal and Bob and Margaret, two Christmas specials featuring Robbie the Reindeer, and an episode of the BBC Radio Four spoof sci-fi series Nebulous.

    He played the Gnat in the 1998 TV adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass starring Kate Beckinsale, and also starred in BBC2’s The Private Life of Samuel Pepys in 2003, and Cruise of the Gods in 2002. In 2006, he had a cameo in the Little Britain Christmas special as a pilot taking Lou and Andy to Disneyland. In 2007, Coogan played a psychiatrist on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, and in 2008, starred in the BBC1 drama Sunshine.

    In 2010, he worked again with Brydon and Michael Winterbottom for the partially improvised BBC2 sitcom The Trip, in which he and Brydon tour northern restaurants.[40] He is set to play Jimmy Savile, the British television presenter and sex offender, in an upcoming BBC One series. Coogan said he did not take the decision to play Savile lightly, and that it was a “horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told”.[41]

    Notable film roles include Factory Records boss Tony Wilson in the film 24 Hour Party People and Octavius in the Night at the Museum films.

    He has played himself several times on screen. First, in one of the vignettes of Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes, alongside Alfred Molina. Second, in 2006 Coogan starred with Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story, a self-referential film of the “unfilmable” self-referential novel Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. In the film, Coogan plays a fictional, womanising version of himself. Thirdly, he played himself in the 2010 film The Trip. He worked again with director Winterbottom in The Look of Love, about ’50s porn-king Paul Raymond. His fourth time playing himself on screen was in the 2014 film The Trip to Italy, a film about him and Rob Brydon taking a food-tasting trip through Italy, followed by The Trip to Spain (2017)[42] and The Trip to Greece (2020)[43]

    The first film that he co-wrote with Henry Normal was The Parole Officer, in which he also acted alongside Ben Miller and Lena Headey. Coogan has an uncredited cameo in Hot Fuzz, scripted by Shaun of the Dead writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Coogan also starred in The Night at the Museum trilogy in which he played Octavius, a miniature Roman general figure, alongside Owen Wilson’s Jedediah, a miniature cowboy figure.

    Coogan’s most acclaimed work to date is the drama-comedy Philomena, which he co-wrote, produced, and starred in with Judi Dench.[44] This performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination, among many other nominations (and some wins). Philomena was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2018, Coogan played English comedian Stan Laurel in the film biopic Stan & Ollie, starring opposite American actor John C. Reilly who played Oliver Hardy.[45] In September 2020 Coogan announced that he will star in an upcoming movie about finding the bones of King Richard III.[46]

    In March 2008, it was confirmed that Coogan would return to doing comedy as part of his first stand-up tour in ten years. The tour, named “Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge and other less successful characters”, saw the return of some of his old characters including Paul Calf and Alan Partridge.[47] Reviews of the tour were mixed.[48][49][50] Much of the criticism focused on the apparent unrehearsed quality of some of the performances and on Coogan’s nervous stage presence. Chortle comedy guide described it as “most definitely a show of two-halves: the superlative Alan Partridge plus a collection of characters that are not only less successful, but woefully less funny”.[51]

    As the tour progressed and the problems were ironed out, reviews were very positive. Dominic Maxwell of The Times described the show as “twice as entertaining as most other comedy shows this year”.[52] Brian Logan of The Guardian awarded it four stars and described it as “shamelessly funny”.[53] Reviews such as the one from the Trent FM Arena exemplified how much the show had improved after dealing with the glitches on its first few dates: “When Steve Coogan first brought this show to Nottingham last month, the reviews were poor… the intervening weeks have made a big difference, and last night’s audience at the Trent FM Arena went home happy. More please, and soon.”[54]

    In 2009, Coogan was featured, alongside Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Julia Davis, in the spoof documentary TV film Steve Coogan – The Inside Story.[55] The same year he spoke on the influence of Monty Python on his comedy when he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut).[56]

    Coogan, along with his writing partner Henry Normal, founded Baby Cow Productions in 1999. Together, they have served as executive producers for shows such as The Mighty Boosh, Nighty Night, Marion and Geoff, Gavin & Stacey, Human Remains and Moone Boy, as well as the Alan Partridge feature film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. They have also produced Where Are the Joneses?, an online sitcom which uses wiki technology to allow the audience to upload scripts and storyline ideas.[57]

    In 2008, BBC Worldwide bought a 25% stake in the production company. It did not offer the largest sum, but was chosen by Coogan and Normal owing to their previous work with and strong connection with the BBC. In 2016, after Henry Normal stood down, Christine Langan (head of BBC Film at the time) was hired by Coogan (creative director of Baby Cow Productions) as the new CEO; this led to BBC Worldwide increasing its stake to 73%.[58]

    Since joining, Langan has executive-produced all of the content from Baby Cow Productions, including Camping, Stan & Ollie, Zapped and The Witchfinder.[citation needed]

    Coogan has said that he likes to “keep [himself] private”, and added: “I have never wanted to be famous, as such – fame is a by-product.”[59] He has been a popular target of the British tabloid press since 1996, and has stated that they have subjected him to entrapment and blackmail, printed obvious lies about him,[60] and have targeted his family and friends in attempts to extract stories from them.[61] Coogan in some cases strongly denied allegations, but in others did not contest them because he wanted to shield vulnerable friends from adverse publicity.[62] The tabloids also published intrusive information about his relationships and the schooling of his child. Coogan has also been critical of the broadsheet press, saying they have colluded with the tabloids in the interests of selling newspapers. In 2005, he said “The Guardian tends to have its cake and eat it. It waits for the tabloids to dish the dirt and then it talks about the tabloids dishing the dirt while enjoying it themselves.”[63] However, he later gave credit to the same newspaper for its investigation of the phone hacking scandal.[64] He has said that the press, by persistently intruding in his private life, has effectively made him “immune” to further attack as his “closet is empty of skeletons”.[65]

    Coogan favours reform and regulation of the British press.[66] He became a prominent figure in the News International phone hacking scandal as one of the celebrities who took action against the British tabloids in light of these events. He was made aware by his phone service provider of “possible anomalies” on his phone in 2005 and 2006.[67] In 2010, Coogan’s legal firm obtained a partially redacted version of Glenn Mulcaire’s hacking notebook by a court order which showed Coogan had been targeted and his personal information was in the possession of Mulcaire.

    Mulcaire was forced by the High Court of Justice to disclose to Coogan’s legal team who amongst the staff at the News of the World ordered him to hack phones. This information was obtained by Coogan’s lawyers on 26 August 2011.[68] Interviewed on Newsnight on 8 July 2011, Coogan said he was “delighted” by the closure of the News of the World and said it was a “fantastic day for journalism”. He said the idea of press freedom was used by the tabloids as a “smokescreen for selling papers with tittle-tattle” and said the argument against press regulation was “morally bankrupt”.[64]

    Coogan provided an eight-page witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry, and appeared at the inquiry on 22 November 2011 to discuss the evidence.[61] He said he was there reluctantly representing a lot of celebrities who felt they could not speak out for fear of reprisals from the tabloid press.[69]

    In March 2021, Coogan said “the tabloid press is controlled by a handful of tax shy billionaires with an agenda. Anyone who stands up to the press is attacked by them because they’re bullies.” He added “the fact that Meghan Markle and Harry were attacked has nothing to do with jet-setting hypocrisy. It’s because they broke the golden rule, which is to leave us alone and we’ll go easy on you next time.”[70]

    Coogan married Caroline Hickman in 2002; they divorced in 2005.[71] He entered rehab for personal issues. He dated model China Chow for three years.[72] In March 2011, Coogan was guest editor for lads mag Loaded, where he met and began dating glamour model Loretta “Elle” Basey.[73] They were together until 2014.[74] He has a daughter, Clare Jane Coogan-Cole, from a previous four-year relationship with solicitor Anna Cole.[75]

    Although raised Catholic, Coogan is now an atheist.[76] A motoring enthusiast, he has owned a succession of Ferrari cars, but stopped buying them after realising that the depreciation and running costs were greater than hiring a private plane.[77] In February 2016, he was fined £670 and banned from driving for 28 days after being caught speeding in Brighton.[78] In August 2019, he escaped the usual six-month ban for a further speeding offence by saying that his next TV series depended on his ability to drive; he was given a two-month ban and a £750 fine.[79] He has been open about his struggle with depression and has said “I will always be a recovering addict”.[80]

    Until 2017, Coogan resided in Ovingdean Grange in Ovingdean, East Sussex.[81]

    Coogan’s autobiography, Easily Distracted, was published in October 2015.[82]

    Coogan announced, on an episode of The Late Late Show, in January 2019, that he was “half-way through” the process of applying for Irish citizenship.[83]

    Coogan supports the Labour Party.[84] He believes that the Conservative Party think “people are plebs” and that “they like to pat people on the head”.[85] In August 2014, Coogan was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.[86]

    In June 2017, Coogan endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 UK general election. He hosted a rally for Corbyn in Birmingham, he opened by saying: “The Tory tactic was to try to make this a choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, but this has backfired as people – and I readily admit to being one of them – have started to listen to what Jeremy Corbyn says rather than what other people have been saying about him.”[87]

    In November 2019, along with other public figures, Coogan signed a letter defending Corbyn, describing him as “a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world” and endorsed him in the 2019 general election.[88] In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, he signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that “Labour’s election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few”.[89][90]

    Coogan’s show Steve Coogan in character with John Thomson was winner of the Perrier Award for best show at the 1992 Edinburgh Fringe. He has won numerous awards for his work in TV including British Comedy Awards, BAFTAs and The South Bank Show award for comedy. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2005, a poll to find the Comedians’ Comedian saw him being voted amongst the top 20 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.[91]


    Evidence to the Leveson InquiryDownloads-icon


    Henry Normal (real name Peter James Carroll, born 15 August 1956) is a writer, poet, TV and film producer, founder of the Manchester Poetry Festival (now the Manchester Literature Festival) and co-founder of the Nottingham Poetry Festival. In June 2017 he was honoured with a special BAFTA for services to television. He set up Baby Cow Productions with Steve Coogan in 1999, and was its managing director until his retirement in 2016.

    He was born in St. Ann’s, Nottingham where he attended William Sharp school (now named Nottingham University Samworth Academy). It was there that his teacher encouraged him to look for poetry in the lyrics of Bob Dylan and John Lennon. He started to write poetry and published his first book of poems entitled Is Love Science Fiction? (Mushroom Books, 1975) when he was nineteen.[1]

    When living in Chesterfield, Normal chanced upon a local fanzine writer and knocked on the bedsit door of editor Faye Ray. The fanzine editor played Normal tapes of ‘ranting’ poets he had recently received including Steven ‘Seething’ Wells, Little Brother and Joolz Denby. Normal went on to be a central figure in the local music scene and the performance poet was a regular fixture at local gigs.

    Early in his career Normal toured with the band Pulp. With Mark Atwood he helped form the Live Poets Society, whose motto was “poetry so good you can actually understand it”. Established in Manchester, they performed in pubs and clubs throughout the north of England. Normal had an eccentric delivery style, and at a 1987 poetry convention in Corby performed with a paper bag over his head. Also in the 1980s, Henry Normal had short prose pieces published in small press magazines such as Peace & Freedom. He released a live album, Ostrich Man, in 1987.[2]

    baby cow

    In 1991 he starred in Channel 4’s late night series, Packet of Three, which blended stand-up comedy with a peculiarly solipsistic sitcom about the staff working at a variety theatre called the Crumpsall Palladium. As the beleaguered, depressed theatre owner, Normal was assisted by stage manager Frank Skinner and kiosk attendant Jenny Eclair.

    Henry co-wrote and script edited the multi-award-winning Mrs Merton Show and the spin-off series Mrs Merton and Malcolm. He also co-created and co-wrote the first series of The Royle Family with Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash. With Steve Coogan, he co-wrote the BAFTA-winning Paul and Pauline Calf Video Diaries, Coogan’s Run, Tony Ferrino, Doctor Terrible, all of Steve’s live tours, and the film The Parole Officer.

    Setting up Baby Cow Productions in 1999, Henry executive produced all, and script edited many, of the shows of its seventeen-and-a-half-year output during his tenure as MD. Highlights of the Baby Cow output during this time include Oscar-nominated Philomena, Gavin and Stacey, I Believe in Miracles, Moone Boy, Uncle, Red Dwarf, The Mighty Boosh, Marion and Geoff, Nighty Night, Camping, Hunderby and Alan Partridge.

    Since retiring in April 2016, Normal has written and performed seven BBC Radio 4 shows, A Normal Family, A Normal Life, A Normal Love, A Normal Imagination, A Normal Nature, A Normal Universe and A Normal Communication, combining comedy, poetry and stories about his life and family. In 2018, Two Roads published A Normal Family: Everyday adventures with our autistic son, which Henry co-wrote with his wife, screenwriter Angela Pell.

    Henry has several poetry collections published by Flapjack Press:

    Henry now lives in Brighton with his wife, the screenwriter Angela Pell, and their son, Johnny.[4] He regularly performs poetry at literature festivals around the UK.

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  • He has been awarded honorary degrees by both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. He is a Patron of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.[5] He has also had a beer and a bus named after him in his home city.

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