Easily Distracted: My Autobiography
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Steve Coogan was born and raised in Manchester in the 1960s, the fourth of six children. From an early age he entertained his family with impressions and was often told he should 'be on the telly'. Failing to get into any of the London-based drama schools, he accepted a place at Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre and before graduating had been given his first break as a voice artist on the satirical puppet show Spitting Image.
The late eighties and early nineties saw Coogan developing characters he could perform on the comedy circuit, from Ernest Moss to Paul Calf, and in 1992 he won a Perrier award with John Thomson. It was around the same time, while working with Armando Iannucci and Patrick Marber on On The Hour and The Day Today, that Alan Partridge emerged, almost fully formed.
Coogan, once a tabloid fixture, is now a respected film actor, writer and producer. He runs his own production company, Baby Cow, has a raft of films to his name (from 24 Hour Party People to Alpha Papa, the critically-acclaimed Partridge film), six Baftas and seven Comedy Awards. He has found huge success in recent years with both The Trip and Philomena, the latter bringing him two Oscar nominations, for producing and co-writing.
In Easily Distracted he lifts the lid on the real Steve Coogan, writing with distinctive humour and an unexpected candour about a noisy childhood surrounded by foster kids, his attention-seeking teenage years and his emergence as a household name with the birth of Alan Partridge.
you, walking up the hill to catch the train … I may as well have dug a hole and buried you in the ground.’ In the days before commercial flights, it wasn’t as though they could easily come back in the holidays; once they had gone, it was goodbye for ever. The shockwave of the Irish famine in the 1860s and the subsequent Irish diaspora meant the country was in a very slow decline. The shrinking population only started to expand again in the 1980s, and even now abandoned, broken mills and
was five and Clare, the oldest, was sixteen and in the sixth form. The Catholic Children’s Rescue Society was run by nuns, but the kids they placed in foster homes weren’t necessarily religious. The kids would stay in the guest bedroom for a few months, sometimes more. I was probably a bit resentful when they came and a bit sad when they left. My parents would always cut the adopted kids a lot of slack, but we got on with them and had days out together. Every now and again a social worker
perceived secondary moderns as simply containment, as if the kids who went there, rather than being educated, were just being kept in a holding pattern before they landed a local factory job, if they were lucky. Grammar school, on the other hand, felt special. My Catholic grammar school conducted itself as a pseudo public school. We played rugby instead of football, which was probably regarded as proletarian, and uniform was strictly enforced. I was the first child my parents worried might not
trip to America. It was the wax skin and bloody glycerine used to create fake wounds. I went to the post office to collect the family allowance with two vampiric puncture wounds on my neck. ‘I think you’ve cut yourself,’ said the postmistress. ‘Yes, I know,’ I replied, with a Village of the Damned stare. I collected the ten pounds and returned home, flapping my arms like the wings of a bat. On another occasion I fashioned a wax, skin-coloured crater between my eyes, which I filled with
near-obsessive political correctness in which you could get a dirty look for opening a door for a woman, Paul Calf got away with everything. He was postmodern just as it was becoming a buzzword. In 1994, a test copy of Loaded magazine had Paul Calf on its cover, alongside the slogan ‘For Men Who Should Know Better’. Loaded became emblematic of everything that was tired about postmodernism. But when it first came along, it was like punk. There was a strangulation of ideas at the time, and Loaded