Posts Tagged ‘Ainslie Herriot’

Steve Coogan on the Daily Mail Part 2: Alan Partridge from 2011 on the Mail and Phone Hacking

October 7, 2013

I’ve already put up a video clip of Steve Coogan explaining on Newsnight why he made the Daily Mail Alan Partridge’s favourite newspaper: it had all the pomposity and racism, which reflected Partridge’s own fictional character. Here’s a clip from the radio from 2011 in which Partridge defends the Daily Mail, the phone hacking and its extensive use of private detectives. It’s a section from a much longer conversation in which Norfolk’s greatest sports commenter and chat show host discusses his autobiography, I, Partridge. In this part of the conversation, Partridge defends Paul Dacre, saying ‘I know him, he’s a lovely guy’, before defending the Daily Mail as standing up for that persecuted minority, middle-class people in distant parts of the country, ‘who are not coloured’, before attacking ‘political correctness’ for not allowing him to describe non-Whites as ‘coloured’. He then asks rhetorically where else he would be able to check the value of his house – not that he actually wants to sell his house – if the Daily Mail went under. As for the phone hacking and the use of private detectives, well, that was only so that the Mail could continue researching the news thoroughly. Partridge also explains why he chose himself to read his autobiography on the audiobook version. Ainslie Harriot was in the running, but was rejected for all kinds of reasons. He was too frivolous, and lacked the gravitas, for the words of the great man.

It’s an acutely observed satire. Apart from being prejudiced against non-Whites, the Mail is indeed famously fixated with house prices. A columnist in the unfortunately short-lived SF magazine, The Edge, described Dacre’s rag as ‘mortgage and Mothercare-fixated’. Private Eye regularly sends the Mail up with mock versions of the paper’s front page bearing headlines like ‘Asteroid to Hit Earth – House Prices Tumble’, and ‘Labour Win Bye-Election – The Threat to Your Mortgage’. It’s also pretty much the case that whenever someone powerful or famous does something despicable, someone will appear on TV and the press to defend them, saying they know them, and they’re a lovely person.

The clip is, of course, still relevant as the Leveson Inquiry trundles along. And Partridge himself is now back on the silver screen in Alpha Papa. I have to say I never liked the second series of Partridge, as it was too bleak, and I didn’t find it particularly funny. Nevertheless, it’s a carefully observed and crafted character, and Coogan here shows Partridge’s power as an instrument of satire. It’s a reminder just why, even after years away from television, Partridge still has the power to fascinate, entertain, and skewer the pompous and mendacious.

The Youtube address is