Should this film even work? Much like many Tv to big screen properties it had a huge hill to climb. We take a spoiler-free look back at 2013’s Alan Partridge : Alpha Papa – what did it do for the character?
Alan Partridge is a different breed altogether. The character has been an enduring and constantly-evolving character for the last 30 years. Fans have watched as Partridge has went from sports broadcaster to talk show host, aging documentarian to radio host.
The complexity of the character is what makes him a beloved addition to the halls of British Comedy.
The character of Alan Gordon Partridge was created by Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci for On The Hour in 1991, but most would know him from when that was transferred to television in 1994 as The Day Today. In 2013 Alpha Papa was released – a big screen adventure based around the latest incarnation of the personality.
The plot : “When famous DJ Alan Partridge’s radio station is taken over by a new media conglomerate, it sets in motion a chain of events which see Alan having to work with the police to defuse a potentially violent siege.“
We pick up with the character from his Mid Morning Matters incarnation, but we can see a significant amount of spill-over from the I’m Alan Partridge era with the addition of characters such as rival DJ Dave Clifton (Phil Cornwell), Geordie ex soldier Michael (Simon Greenall) and Alans long-suffering assistant Lynn (Felicity Montagu).
This is a fine example of what can be achieved with a smaller budget (£4 million). The film gives off an enduring element of fun despite the thematic subject matter. It’s all handled lightly. The plot doesn’t stray too far from the theme of the character and seems to accurately answer the question : What would Alan Partridge do in that situation?
Steve Coogan provides his usual top performance, lending heart, body and soul to the character with expert timing.
Colm Meaney is an absolute treasure in general. He’s had such a long and significant career, but he’ll always be chief O’Brien to nerds everywhere. With regards to Alpha Papa, it’s great to see him in something a little lower in budget, closer to the ground and seeing him work his chops off. His performance is fantastic and drives the film. He portrays a desperate man on the edge, pushed too far and swaying between violence, heartfelt joviality and frantic anger.
It’s comforting to revisit this world again. What i have always loved about Partridge (and by extension the supporting characters that have formed a collective around him) is the evolution of the the character. The iterations of Partridge do follow a logical progression almost like a blueprint to the personalities he is a parody of.
Being a fan of Partridge since The Day Today, i’ve followed the character throughout this journey. For me the joy of this character has been his enduring realism. Yes it’s a parody character, but over the years Coogan has molded Partridge into a living breathing entity.
Even when Hollywood was calling Coogan with the likes of Philomena and Night At The Museum, there’s a sense that Partridge was still out there somewhere, making hard-hitting social documentaries, presenting infomercials or griping about the pedestrianization of Norwich City Centre. This is why the character feels so real. He has a life outside of Coogan and outside of us. We are merely afforded a brief glimpse whenever a talkshow or chat show arises.
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