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Stay classy: six of the funniest fake broadcasters on film and TV

Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge first appeared as a condescending, ill-informed sports reporter on the British radio show On the Hour in 1991, and continued through three television series and numerous TV and radio specials as a reporter and talk-show host. Alan Patridge, first released last summer in England, is his first incarnation on film. He joins a merry band of talk-show buffoons and news personalities who have been suavely, obnoxiously and amusingly coming our way for more than 40 years.

Ted Baxter

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77)

Ted Knight starred as Baxter, whose baritone and misguided confidence were suffered by Mary, Lou, Murray and the rest of the crew at Minneapolis’s WJM-TV. In 2005, Fox News right-wing frother Ann Coulter described CBC’s the fifth estate host Bob McKeown as a “bubblehead, a Ted Baxter” after he exposed her ignorance about Canada’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Quote: “Ladies and gentlemen, sad news. One of our most beloved entertainers, and close personal friend of mine, is dead. Chuckles the Clown … leaves a wife. At least I assume he was married, he didn’t seem like the other kind. I don’t know his age, but I guess he was probably in his early 60s; it’s kind of hard to judge a guy’s face especially when he’s wearing big lips and a light bulb for a nose.”

Ron Burgundy

Anchorman (2004) and Anchorman 2 (2013)

Will Ferrell plays Burgundy of San Diego’s KVWN, a man known for his luxuriant mustache, expressive eyebrows and “a voice that could make a wolverine purr.”

Quote: “I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”

Kent Brockman

The Simpsons (1990-present)

This puffed-up local-TV personality, voiced by Harry Shearer, and designed by future director Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles), is the host of several fictional TV shows within The Simpsons universe.

When Brockman sees an ant, magnified by its proximity to the camera during a news episode about a space trip, he declares (giving birth to a meme), “And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.”

Larry Sanders

The Larry Sanders Show (1992-98)

Gary Shandling starred as the neurotic, self-centered host in this comedy about the backstage world of late-night TV. With real celebrities playing themselves in a faux-documentary format, the show influenced Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock and The Office.

Quote: “The only reason I’m not running for president this year, I swear to God, is I am afraid no woman would come forward to say she had sex with me.”

Ali G


Sacha Baron Cohen’s white hip-hop poseur interviewed real, unsuspecting celebrity guests who struggled to contend with his unshakably confident ignorance.

Quote (in an interview with Buzz Aldrin): “I know this is a sensitive question, but what was it like not being the first man on the moon? Was you ever jealous of Louis Armstrong?”

Stephen Colbert

The Colbert Report (2005-present)

Playing a bloviating host in the style of Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, Colbert promotes right-wing causes, declares not to see race, loves his revolver (called Sweetness), and has a crush on Matthew McConaughey.

Quote: “If we don’t cut expensive things like Head Start, child nutrition programs, and teachers and student loans, what sort of future are we leaving for our children?”

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