I’m excited about the new series of The Trip, but I already feel stressed about it. Because I’m convinced that I am a bigger Steve Coogan fan than anybody else. And, actually, most Steve Coogan fans who I meet seem to think they are his greatest fan. I stand aside while others exchange Partridge quotes, coolly smiling and nodding in order to communicate that ‘yes, it’s all very funny, but I understand it more than you’.
And how finely life imitates art imitating life as I often cringe at those lesser fans who misquote him: “stop getting Partridge wrong!!”, I think. I’m desperate, I mean it. Understand him in all his glory but please, in my presence, do not watch a short clip and then say “oooooh I can’t watch it, it’s too painful” as dear Alan alienates himself further from ‘the general public’. By saying this you are alienating yourselves (from me).
I know I’m referring to Partridge and Coogan interchangeably, as if they are one, and I suspect that Coogan wouldn’t mind. I’ve heard him say that there is a part of Partridge within him, how can there not be? Partridge has been around for a long time now and you can see, as the character has aged and developed, how Coogan is able to deliver a Partridge line which shows us not only what Alan is saying but what he thinks he ought to be saying, and who Alan is trying to be. I think that is talent. How often have we attempted, in life, to try to be something we’re not; to feel jealous and bitter towards the very people we aspire to? That’s Alan and sometimes, I admit it, that’s me.
But back to The Trip, where Coogan presents not just a facet of himself (as in Partridge) but himself as himself. He’s not parodying himself or saying “look! I can laugh at myself…… Such a nice guy”. He actually presents as a bit of an idiot. Jealous of his friend, needy, growing *ahem* less young. But I bloody love him even more. The man who recognises his weaknesses…… who studies them… bares his very humanity – good and pathetic – for public exploration, that’s a genuine man.
I was talking to friends after series 1 had been shown – “I would marry Steve Coogan”, I said. “But I’ve read that he actually is like that in real life, I’ve read he’s a bit of a git ”, someone replied. “I know, I’m sure he is…. he’s honest, and The Trip is one of the most real pieces of art I’ve ever had the honour of watching” I said, rising to my feet, deciding to head to a local Q&A I heard he was doing with the intention of luring him to my bungalow and showing him my Coogan shrine. I’m joking. Mostly. I’m not a stalker, just a Steve Coogan fan who takes great pride in understanding and appreciating his work. I’m sure there are many competitive and bitter fans like me out there. And he deserves them.
And he got a second series!!!!!! Can’t wait to watch it.