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A Cock and Bull Story

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Title: A Cock and Bull Story  
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Subject: Michael Winterbottom, British Independent Film Awards 2005, Steve Coogan, 12th Empire Awards, KRS Film Distributors
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A Cock and Bull Story

A Cock and Bull Story
Film poster
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Produced by Andrew Eaton
Screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Based on The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman 
by Laurence Sterne
Starring Steve Coogan
Rob Brydon
Keeley Hawes
Shirley Henderson
Stephen Fry
and Gillian Anderson
Music by Michael Nyman
Nino Rota
Cinematography Marcel Zyskind
Edited by Peter Christelis
BBC Films
Baby Cow Productions
EM Media
East Midlands Media Initiative
Revolution Films
Scion Films
Distributed by Redbus Film Distribution
Release dates
  • 17 July 2005 (2005-07-17) (Cambridge Film Festival)
  • 20 January 2006 (2006-01-20) (United Kingdom)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

A Cock and Bull Story (marketed in Australia, New Zealand and the United States as Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story) is a 2005 British comedy film directed by Michael Winterbottom. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne's 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Gillian Anderson and Keeley Hawes also play themselves in addition to their Tristram Shandy roles. Since the book is about a man attempting but failing to write his autobiography, the film takes the form of being about failing to make the film.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Soundtrack 3
  • Locations 4
  • Reception 5
  • Home release 6
  • The Trip 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


A Cock and Bull Story depicts Steve Coogan playing himself as an arrogant actor with low self-esteem and a complicated love life. Coogan is playing the eponymous role in an adaptation of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman being filmed at a stately home. He constantly spars with actor Rob Brydon, who is playing Uncle Toby and believes his role to be of equal importance to Coogan's, calling himself the "co-lead".

The film incorporates several sequences from Tristram Shandy. Not all of these are part of the film-within-the-film. The latter are limited to the story of Tristram's conception, birth and christening; Uncle Toby's experiences at the Battle of Namur and Tristram's sudden and accidental circumcision at the age of three. Uncle Toby's wooing of Widow Wadnam (Gillian Anderson) takes place in a sequence dreamed by Steve Coogan and after the cast and crew have viewed the "completed" film ending, with Walter Shandy fainting at the sight of his wife giving birth, the question "How does the book end?" is followed by the concluding scene of the novel, in which Yorick says "It is a story about a Cock and a Bull – and the best of its kind that ever I heard!". Yorick is not in the film-within-the-film; in this scene he is played by Stephen Fry, who appears elsewhere in the film as Patrick, a caricatured version of the actual curator at Shandy Hall. The DVD extras include a scene of Fry talking with the curator he portrays.



The film's soundtrack is notable for featuring numerous excerpts from Nino Rota's score for the Federico Fellini film , itself a self-reflexive work about the making of a film. Other non-diegetic musical references are made to Amarcord, The Draughtsman's Contract, Smiles of a Summer Night, Fanny and Alexander and Barry Lyndon. Michael Nyman, composer of The Draughtsman's Contract provides a new arrangement of the Handel Sarabande featured in the latter film, while the tracks of The Draughtsman's Contract (the original soundtrack recordings, the score has been re-recorded numerous times) serve as a temp track to film of the Sterne material.


Laurence Sterne's study at Shandy Hall in which Stephen Fry appears as a caricatured version of 'Patrick' the actual curator of the museum

The film was recorded at a number of locations in England:[1]


The film has received very positive reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 121 reviews.[2]

Home release

A Cock and Bull Story was released on both Region 1 and Region 2 DVD in July 2006.

The Trip

The fictionalised versions of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon seen in the film reappear as the central characters in Michael Winterbottom's 2010 BBC series The Trip.[3]


  1. ^ Filming locations for A Cock and Bull Story. IMDb. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links

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