Shiny Shelf

I’m Alan Partridge: The Talented Mr Alan

By Eddie Robson on 11 November 2002

Whilst Steve Coogan has done OK out of recent film roles (most notably 24 Hour Party People), he’s never found a TV project that works as well for him as Alan Partridge does. (It’s at this point that most critics bring up Tony Ferrino but I try not to be so predictable.) Now that he’s finally accepted this, we get a second series of I’m Alan Partridge, almost five years on from the first.

There are positive and negative ramifications of the lengthy gap between series. The obvious problem is that the first series has had plenty of time to pass into legend, and it’s now regarded as one of the best comedies of the 1990s. The recent repeat run demonstrated that it still stands up today as a tragic exploration of what happens to rubbish celebrities when their inexplicable popularity suddenly dissipates, and showed just what this second series has to live up to. Doubtless there’ll be people who will say that he shouldn’t have brought Alan back: there always are with these things. (Yeah, and John Cleese should never have made that second series of Fawlty Towers.)

What this series does have in its favour is that plenty of time has passed in Alan’s life as well. In the last five years he’s moved out of the travel tavern, had a breakdown, let himself go to seed and recovered (although this has blatantly been aided by plastic surgery). He’s moved up to a late-evening slot on Radio Norwich and acquired a mail-order 33-year-old Ukrainian girlfriend. This does at least mean that the new series won’t be a re-tread of the first one, with Alan’s life going in an entirely different direction.

Nevertheless, I found the first fifteen minutes a bit tense – I wanted it to be great and I wasn’t sure that it was. And the tenser you get, the harder it is to laugh. Thankfully there was a storming joke about perverse sex videos halfway through and I loosened up completely. Thank God, it’s actually going to be good. When you’ve had a decent laugh already it puts you in the frame of mind to laugh some more, and seeing Alan’s car-crash video (it’s a car-crash in more ways than one) convinced me that returning to Alan was a good idea, for Coogan and for me.

Hopefully we’ll see some of Alan’s daytime war-themed quiz show next week. Back of the net!

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By Eddie Robson

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