I’ve always wondered just how much of Alan Partridge’s pompous behaviour is a reflection of his creator, Steve Coogan. Sometimes the comedian seems to encourage it.
Coogan has persuaded a magistrate not to hand out an automatic six-month driving ban (despite already notching up nine points on his licence) after being found guilty of speeding in Sussex.
Coogan claimed that filming for his forthcoming BBC series involved driving around Britain and that “it’s an artistic thing that he [Partridge] drives and that defines his character”.
He also argued that 15 or 20 professionals had been lined up to work, presumably suggesting an inability to drive would leave them jobless, if only for a while.
But what really startled me was that the judge appeared to agree and reduced the ban to just two months.
I think it’s worth recalling Coogan’s driving record. In 2012 he was found not guilty of speeding after it had initially “slipped his mind” that a friend had been driving; in 2016 he was fined and banned for 28 days for speeding in Brighton.
The chairwoman of the magistrates this time around said she had taken into account the “exceptional hardship” a lengthy ban would cause. What kind of “hardship”?
How wonderful for celebrities who can put forward defences of this type. Would the same argument work for ordinary drivers who don’t appear on television? Like delivery people, ambulance drivers, care workers and busy mums trying to combine a zero hours job with dropping their kids off at school.
I think we know the answer.