Actor Steve Coogan refused to play the lead role in the American version of hit British sitcom The Office, deeming the character too similar to his own comedy alter-ego ALAN PARTRIDGE.

The British AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS star was approached to reprise Ricky Gervais' on-screen creation David Brent before production started on the ill-fated US show.

But he quickly turned down the part because he's desperate to pursue fresh opportunities and ignore roles which remind him of his past TV work in the UK.

He says, "About a year ago somebody asked if I wanted to be in the US version of The Office.

"I told them I wasn't going to do it because I did a series called Alan Partridge which was compared with The Office and I want to move in new directions."

Gervais won two Golden Globe Awards for his critically acclaimed show, which follows the office life of socially-inept company manager Brent.

10/09/2004 13:50