Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Alan Partridge, for those who don’t know, is a bit of a wally. He’s the generally self concerned, insecure, moderately successful presenter and broadcaster character played by Steve Coogan (and written by himself, Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham), whose career seems to suffer more than the average number of crushing setbacks.

Appearing on our screens first in 1994 as the sports presenter on ‘The Day Today News’, Alan has taken an upside down sort of career progression, from his own talk show on the BBC, to a military based quiz show on digital TV channel UK Conquest, to a nighttime slot on Radio Norwich and to where we find him today – a mid-morning slot on North Norfolk Digital radio station (North Norfolk’s best music mix). But there’s change afoot – North Norfolk Digital has been taken over and rebranded Shape, and some of the DJs are fearing the cut. One in particular, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) is taking the personnel changes particularly badly and storms the offices with a shotgun.

It’s nice to see that this isn’t ‘Alan Goes to The USA’ or ‘Alan Goes on Holiday’ and that it is basically all set in the offices of a Norfolk radio station. It’s a coherent lead on from Alan’s previous work, but with a big event to shake his world that takes up a film’s run-time.

It’s also good to see that it’s very funny. From his radio phone-in ideas, to his air-singing in the car, to his boardroom-storming, to his negotiations with the police, his courting of the public and his mangina, this is all Alan Partridge and it’s all funny.

I think it works for non-Alan fans as well, because the character is one that’s not just silly but also makes you sympathise with him in the way that, say, David Brent does. As a long-term fan it’s nice to see characters like Lynn (Felicity Montagu), Sidekick Simon (Tim Key) and Dave Clifton (Phil Cornwell) appearing.

It’s all quite absurd and silly, and there’s an awful lot of rushing around and shouting, but it holds itself together for 90 minutes and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. The strange choice for me was not having an existing character as the siege-meister. Surely Dave Clifton would have made more sense than the new face of Pat Farrell?

Very funny though and sure to be watched a lot in the future.

4 on 5

Director: Declan Lowney
Starring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell Martin, Nigel Lindsay, Felicity Montagu, Simon Greenall, Phil Cornwell, Tim Key
UK Release: 7th August 2013

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