Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We need to talk about Alan

Despite being warned by a fellow Partridge aficionado not to bother, I finally got round to watching Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How And Whom? at the weekend - and I'm glad I did. OK, so the opportunity was there for a spoof documentary, but the straight narrative of his career (and of his passage towards becoming a more fully rounded character) was perfectly illustrated with some of his "best" (i.e. funniest) moments and did a fine job of whetting the appetite ahead of his return to the Beeb this year.

The clips were embellished and interspersed with commentary from those who have been crucial to the creation of Alan's rightfully legendary comic status: Steve Coogan, of course, but also the likes of Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber (who, Coogan suggested, was the first to see the character's real potential), David Schneider, Rebecca Front, Peter Baynham and Simon Greenall. It was good to also hear from Neil and Rob Gibbons, as the duo who can be credited for reinvigorating the Partridge brand with the books and Alpha Papa. Needless to say, though, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring were notable absentees.

The behind-the-scenes rehearsal/improv footage was all too brief, but the various insights offered into Alan's character were often illuminating - none more so than Marber's claim that the "fundamental given" is "desperation". It was revealed that Marber felt that the script for the first series of I'm Alan Partridge was too sitcom-y, but that Coogan, Iannucci and company sensed that he was wrong and ignored his complaint - with the results overwhelmingly justifying that decision. If the new series is even half as good, we'll be in for a treat.

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