Alan Partridge: What I've Learned

As Steve Coogan turns 50, Norfolk's finest shares his life lessons

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Broadcasting is like sex. You need balls, imagination, sensitivity and, ideally, a towel.

You have to have a thick skin in this business. Dale Winton's sunbed addiction means he's developed a teak-tough brown hide. Mine's not quite as thick. The eczema on my tummy and arms has seen to that.

To get the measure of a man, I try to establish three facts: what they drive; where their holiday home is; how much cash they have on them at any one time. Me? Kia, Cowes, £300. Erm… Four 50s, four 20s, a 10, a five and five pound coins. For the parking meter.

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When it comes to charities, my particular favourites are ones to do with Africa. I've done more charity raffles for Africans than they've had hot dinners.

My greatest fear? Being at a charity event and everyone in a room suddenly having white eyes and robotic voices. I turn and run but they fire lasers at me from their hands and mouths. Somehow, I dodge the beams and find cover behind a cabinet, but I know I don't have long. With the demonic zombies stumbling towards me, I make my move, sprinting towards the wall and diving headlong into an air duct. Hours later, I have escaped and alerted the Army. But when we return to the charity event, it is a wasteland. Nothing has been spared and as I turn to leave, I glimpse a sickening sight. Amid the ashes is a tiny hand still clutching a teddy bear. A horrible thought and I only hope none of it ever comes to pass.

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I used to sleep in Egyptian cotton until the Arab Spring. Now, I open out a sleeping bag and use it as a duvet.

People assume I'm constantly surrounded by celebrity friends, but it's not like that. I used to Skype chat with Eamonn Holmes every Sunday morning but he started to do it from the bath and I didn't like that. It wasn't his flesh – the bubble bath covered that – it was the fact he'd be eating sliders while he chatted to me (they're basically small burgers). With the suds on his face, he was like Santa playing Pac-Man.

It absolutely staggers me that people keep their eggs in a fridge. Eggshells will maintain integrity at room temperature for at least 21 days but at low temperatures the outer mucoprotein cuticle dries and shrinks, exposing the pores in the calcium carbonate shell. This increases the probability of bacterial contamination by about five per cent. But keep your eggs where you want. It's your funeral.

I'm a Marmite DJ. Some people love me, others like me. But all respect me.

I am in great shape. I start a different diet every Monday and have taken the batteries out of my TV remote so that I have to physically approach the television every time I want to change channel. It's annoying but punishes my abs, quads and arse muscles. Can't remember what arse muscles are called.

Wisdom can be found in many forms. It could be a shaman in a cave. Or a witch doctor in a cave. But it can also be found in the guise of a not-unbusty 65-year-old woman called Lynn Benfield, my assistant. Unkind people say she's frumpy, dumpy and grumpy, which sounds like three dwarves. Then again, from a distance she does resemble three midgets huddled in her dead mum's coat.

Wagamama is tasty but I shan't be going again. Order a noodle soup and you're presented with chopsticks and a spoon – and a tactical conundrum. It's down to you to regulate your consumption of solids and broth. Too much of the former and you're left with a puddle of empty soup; too much of the latter and it's a cold nest of noodles.

It took so much concentration, I'm ashamed to say I neglected to chat with my guest, Glen. In the end, I thought sod this and went and bought a Whopper.

My best-ever holiday was an all-inclusive fortnight in Orlando. They wanted £1,200 for it but I got them down to £950 and when I got there my room was soiled so I was upgraded to a deluxe which should have cost £1,500 all-in. That's a pretty tidy saving of £550. You should have seen their faces. And that's why the fortnight in Orlando was my best-ever holiday.

My autobiography broke the mould. It came with its own suggested soundtrack. I spent three days with my iPod creating a list of songs that would provide the perfect mood music to accompany my life. My publishers said this wasn't necessary. In fact, they specifically told me not to bother, as they weren't willing to pay for the production or dispatch of a CD and certainly weren't going to seek clearance from, or pay royalties to, the artists I'd chosen. I did it anyway.

In 1967, I misdiagnosed myself with cancer of the ball bag. Turned out it was just an infected paper cut on my scrotum. Next question.

What's the one thing I'd save if my house was on fire? Contents insurance documentation. Those people will screw you given half a chance. If it's all the same to you, I'll keep a copy of the policy for my records, thanks.

A-ha. It's both my catchphrase and the name of a Swedish, or Norwegian, pop group. I met them once in the bar of the Hilton Gatwick, and we laughed about who owned the copyright! Now, whenever the band release a new LP, Morten [Harket] sends me a copy, along with a photo of himself in a Pringle jumper giving a double thumbs-up. Just realised he might be mocking me.

I am – and always have been – an only child. But I would have loved a little brother to play football with or bully. I'd rush downstairs every Christmas morning and rip open my presents, hoping against hope that one of the boxes contained a human baby. It rarely did. In fact, it never did.

I cry all the time. These days, there's so much to get upset about: an earthquake in China, a school shooting, divisions over Europe in the Conservative Party. Onions always get me, too. Which is a shame because I have a diet that is incredibly rich in onions. I once broke into tears when chopping a pepper, which I thought was odd until I noticed I'd actually cut the tip of my thumb off.

I had my issues with the BBC. Especially the commissioning editor Tony Hayers. For a man who worked five days a week in the BBC, Hayers was incredibly hard to get hold of. If he wasn't at the chiropodist or at his daughter's graduation, he was on holiday in the Gambia or in a broken lift. I mean he was never ever at his desk. People say Idi Amin was a monster. And to be fair, he was. A real bad lad. Can I go now?

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