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Having proved his mettle as Paul Calf; in The Day Today and most notably Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan was given full reign to exploit his chameleon-like ability to capture character in this six episode series.
Although Coogan had a hand in writing all the episodes, he cannily surrounded himself with some of the most accomplished comedy writers on offer, with Henry Normal, Patrick Marber, Geoffrey Perkins, Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews all getting a slice of the action.
Superficially revolving around the residents of Ottle (and thus allowing lead characters from one episode to cameo in others), Coogan's Run offered a varied style of comedy: the type of humour on offer dictated by the comedic potential of whichever character was at the fore.
The first episode lured us in with a familiar character as Paul Calf went on the run and hid himself in a bizarre retreat.
After that, we were introduced to self-centred computer chip salesman Gareth Cheeseman (motivational technique: looking into the mirror and saying "You’re a Tiger"), handyman Ernest Moss, nightclub singer Mike Crystal, quiz addict Guy Crump and psychopathic museum curator Tim Fleck.
All these characters benefited from Coogan's ability to create monsters with a hapless streak of vulnerability: you cringe for the characters as much as you laugh at them.
The cast was augmented by regular Coogan collaborators like John Thomson, Patrick Marber and Rebecca Front, whilst his ascending star ensured the guest characters were played by prominent thespians like John Shrapnel, Alison Steadman, George Costigan, Adrian Scarborough, Oliver Ford Davies and John Shuttleworth creator Graham Fellows.
Perhaps overlooked because of the huge successes Coogan has had elsewhere, these six episodes are very skilfully produced and serve as an excellent showcase for British comedy in the 1990s.
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