I’m Alan Partridge (BBC2, 1997-2002)
This is a comedy show that has been written about a lot of over the years and I don’t have too much to add but I really do think that it is one of the classics. The show of courses centres around the Alan Partridge character (Steve Coogan) who thinks of himself as something of a talented and relevant presenter although he isn’t really.
There are so many memorable moments from his shows over the years that it is difficult to pick out a few highlights but here’s what had happened up to the point of the start of the first series. Alan had started out as an eager reporter on Radio 4’s On The Hour and BBC2’s The Day Today updating us on all the latest sports news. He then got his own chat show Knowing Me Knowing You.
This then transferred to TV but unfortunately there was only one series because Alan’s interviewing technique left a lot to be desired and his disdain for some of his guests was so clear that he thought nothing of shooting them right in front of everyone, so now his career has slumped into the doldrums. Nobody even wants him to open a fete, how awful.
Alan now entertains not that many people on the graveyard shift on a local radio station in Norwich. This part of the show was an amusing parody of small-time broadcasting with Alan constantly bickering with the presenter after him, although he did play a lovely music mix and had some great jingles. His desire is to get back into the magic rectangle though with the help of his tireless PA Lynn, 50. Alan’s wife and children have also lost interest in him, but we never see them, although Alan does have typically uncomfortable telephone conversations with his son Fernando.
Alan is also currently living in a travel tavern waiting for his big comeback, and often having conversations with the bizarre Michael, but of course when he tries to pitch some new shows to the BBC it all goes horribly wrong because Alan is rather good at creating awkward social situations out of nothing. What is surprising about the series is that Alan doesn’t talk about sport much considering that was how he got into TV and radio. There should’ve been a scene where Alan said “you can’t do this to me! I once commentated on a World Cup!”
By the second series five years later Alan is still on Radio Norwich but in a better timeslot and his life is beginning to improve. By this time in the early-2000s there had been the launch of digital TV so even if Alan couldn’t get on the BBC any more he could still appear frequently on the screen albeit on a comparatively small-time channel. Alan was now a host of a game show on the fictional UK Conquest (a shame they never made an episode for real but you can just imagine it). Some days it got as many as 8,000 viewers.
Alan is also about to move into his swish new house and he now has a loyal 33-year-old Ukrainian girlfriend. What a turnaround from just a couple of years earlier when he was a Toblerone-riddled mess. One of my favourite characters in series two is Dan Moody, young and successful, he is everything that Alan wants to be and they instantly become friends, swapping anecdotes and catchphrases including “in off the red!”. Once again though Alan gets more than he bargained for.
Alan still works alongside Lynn and remains friends with Michael who now works at a BP petrol station. There were just so many great moments in the 12 shows that were made, but Alan is still around, having appeared in more TV shows such as Mid Morning Matters which feature the highlights of his online radio programme. There has also been a script book released, and Alan’s autobiography, which really is “lovely stuff”, and the show has also won several awards and has been often repeated. Such is the fondness for Alan’s character that in more recent years there was even a film version which was a great satire of the radio industry. Although Coogan has been playing Partridge for nearly 25 years now he still has the ability to make people laugh with this entertaining character.