There is no rationality to the process of fancying someone, just pure chemical reaction – molecules bubbling under the skin. To ask why someone is "hot" is ultimately useless, a generalisation in a topic where there can be none, and yet still we ask the question: why is Steve Coogan hot?
By all accounts, this should not be the case. The image of Steve Coogan is twinned with the image of Alan Partridge. As he sips a Guinness, lunges in running shorts, gyrates in a leather thong and a golf jumper with two traffic cone boobs attached, saying "give me a second series", the natural reaction is not, as he would say, "Phwoar, sex."
The thing is, however, Steve Coogan is hot, and yet we do not speak of this. Sick of keeping the secret to myself, of gorging The Trip in single viewings, of endlessly rewatching Mid Morning Matters, of the Leveson Inquiry videos littering my YouTube history, I sought to know just what his charm is. Was it how his grumpiness and rasp, the sourness of his upturned mouth, contrasted so perfectly with Rob Brydon's sandy-haired affability? The hair softly streaked with silver, the still-taut jawline? That he isn’t Footlights alumni? And did Alan Partridge – the ever-present spectre that lurks behind Steve's silver-fox looks – make him more or less hot?
I couldn't answer these questions by myself, so I did some canvassing to find out if, why and how Steve Coogan became one of the UK's finest sex symbols.
VICE: Hi Helen. When did you first realise that you fancied Steve?
Helen: I never gave him any thought until I saw him in The Trip, but then I was smitten.
That makes sense. I guess The Trip shows him able to poke fun at himself, while also allowing us to feel like we know Steve in the series in a way we never do when he's Alan Partridge. Is there a physical reason for your attraction at all?
He has a lot of qualities that are my type. I always fancy people with slightly odd noses. And he's got very alert eyes with a lot of emotion in them. Also, I have a thing about hands, and he has nice ones.
Do you think he’s hot as Alan?
No, never as Alan Partridge.
VICE: You’re American – do you think Steve Coogan is hot, or is it an entirely British phenomenon?
Cody: His name is one of those names that floats in my head but never really sticks because I'm neither British, nor someone who grew up watching TV or movies. But yeah, I'd finger-bang him. He's like the kinda father figure i can see myself sleeping with.
Interesting! Have you ever seen Alan Partridge?
Are Alan Partridge and Steve Coogan different people? They look the same, idgi.
VICE: Why do you find Steve hot, do you think?
James: I think, like, Steve in The Trip – although it's obviously mediated – is probably the closest we've seen to the "real" him. Although on it he's pathetic, he's also kind of cold and arrogant, which pushes a lot of my buttons.
Yeah, he has that combination of self-effacement and sarcasm that’s strangely alluring.
Also he's a bit of a bad boy, isn't he? There's a darkness to him, a whiff of sulphur.
When do you think he’s at his hottest? I think the Oscar nomination was a turning point for him, personal-grooming wise. He really seemed to get more confident with his styling.
The Trip-era Steve is when I fancy him the most, and in Cigarettes and Coffee. I couldn’t shag him in character as Alan, but I do think the character is funny and indicative of his talent, which is always attractive.
VICE: Charlotte, what attracts you to Steve?
Charlotte: I don’t know, really, as I know he’s shorter than me. I just imagine the full beam of his attention on you feels pretty great. I bet he’s really funny and filthy in bed too. Plus, he must be doing something right, because he dates young glamour models – which is very dubious, but still.
Do you think the character of Alan makes him more or less hot?
Probably more, but I really have never fancied Alan.
VICE: Hello, please tell us why Steve Coogan is hot.
Julia: I find him hot in serious roles – like Philomena – and particularly so since he went grey.
Yes, the grey really works for him. You’re the first person to bring up Philomena; why does that do it for you?
I think funny people being surprisingly good in serious roles is hot, even when it's actually completely unsurprisingly because they're trained actors.
That makes sense – it’s always attractive to find out somebody’s hidden depths. Do you fancy him as Alan?
Being Alan definitely makes him hotter, although the notion of fancying Alan makes me queasy. Maybe because it's like a uniform seal of approval – something being a basically undisputed work of genius is bound to make the creator hotter
VICE: Steve? Alan? What do you reckon.
Kate: I don’t find Steve hot. He basically just plays incarnations of himself and all of them are kind of arseholes.
Good point. Are there any other reasons – physical, emotional?
Yeah, he's very... teethy. And I wouldn’t be able to shake the fear that he'd yell "AHA!" as he's about to cum.
Well, I think that’s just about ruined it for everyone. Thanks!