Follow Alan Partridge’s antics on air and off
Friday: This Time with Alan Partridge; (BBC One, 9.30pm)
Ah ha! If you’re feeling a little nervous at the prospect of returning to the outside world post-lockdown, here’s some news that may encourage you to come out of your shell – Steve Coogan apparently has plans to take his most popular alter ego out on the road for a live tour.
But before that, Alan Partridge is returning to our screens for another run of This Time, the One Show-style magazine programme that has resurrected his once dead and buried TV career.
“Alan Partridge is in the top tier of comedy characters of all time,” claims Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy. “It fills my heart with joy to welcome him back.”
A BBC press release claims that the second season finds Alan “now established as the show’s co-presenter” and will “follow Alan on air and off as he tries to cling on to his position in the face of behind-the-scenes upheaval and his fears that his relevance is dwindling”.
He should probably consider himself lucky to be still in a job – at the end of the first series, broadcast in 2019, Alan was in serious trouble thanks to comments he made about his co-presenter, Jennie Gresham (Susannah Fielding). His behaviour towards her was rather archaic too – Norfolk’s favourite son clearly hadn’t got on board with the #MeToo movement.
The Abba-loving DJ and presenter started his broadcasting life in 1991 on Radio 4’s spoof current affairs show On The Hour; Coogan had been asked by one of its writers, Armando Iannucci, to come up with a generic sports reporter’s voice featuring elements of Elton Welsby, Jim Rosenthal and John Motson. The character’s success led to the original run of Knowing Me, Knowing You, a chat show that eventually moved to TV and turned Alan and his creator into household names. It was followed by I’m Alan Partridge, a Bafta-winning sitcom following Alan’s life after the collapse of his career and marriage.
“When you write comedy you have to draw from what’s around you and what you know,” explains Coogan. “The best kind of comedy is when people recognise something about a character.”
That might explain some of Alan’s phenomenal popularity with the viewing public. Coogan says he meets lots of people who are convinced that Partridge actually exists – but that brings its own problems for his creator: “It’s nice in one way,” he says, “but not always, because the people who think he’s real just think he’s a very annoying person!”
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the writer-actor appeared to give up on him for a while. However, in between Coogan making acclaimed appearances in various movies and TV shows, including entries in the Night at the Museum franchise, The Trip, Stan & Ollie and Philomena (for which he also co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay), Alan has continued to be a part of his professional life, even starring in his own big-screen outing, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
But it’s on the small screen that the character appears most at home – even if he’s continually making gaffes and getting the wrong end of the stick. Expect plenty of both to occur throughout the series.
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