Alan Partridge

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For the former character in Brookside, see Alan Partridge (Brookside). For the 2013 film, see Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Alan Partridge
Alan partridge2.jpg
First appearance Radio: On the Hour
Television: The Day Today
Created by Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber and Armando Iannucci
Portrayed by Steve Coogan
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Radio and television presenter, conference host
Spouse(s) Carol (divorced)
Significant other(s) Sonja (separated)
Children Fernando Partridge
Denise Partridge
Relatives Dorothy Partridge (mother)

Alan Gordon Partridge is a fictional character portrayed by English comedian Steve Coogan and invented by Coogan, Patrick Marber and Armando Iannucci for the BBC Radio 4 programme On The Hour. A parody of both sports commentators and chat show presenters, among others, the character has appeared in two radio series, three television series and numerous TV and radio specials, including appearances on BBC's Comic Relief, which have followed the rise and fall of his fictional career. A feature-length film featuring the character, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, was released in August 2013.

Character creation[edit]

Partridge first appeared in On the Hour in 1991, and was a joint creation by Coogan, Iannucci and Marber. Iannucci recalls asking Coogan to do a voice for a "generic sports reporter". "Someone said, 'He’s an Alan!' and someone else said, 'He’s a Partridge!' Within minutes we knew where he lived, we’d worked out his backstory, what his aspirations were."[1]

Fictional biography[edit]

Early years and career[edit]

Within his fictional world, Partridge was born to Dorothy Partridge on 2 April 1955 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, and spent his childhood in Norwich. He was often bullied at school, as we find out in an episode of the original Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge radio show when Alan is hypnotised and regressed to his childhood, and reveals he was called "Smelly Alan Fartridge" by classmate Stephen McCoombe – happily for Partridge, McCoombe now has back problems and lives on disability benefits. He claims in his autobiography that this was infantile humour that any self-respecting comedian would have dismissed and that he was particularly sensitive to hygiene issues and if there were anything he did smell of, it would have been Radox and Colgate. In the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, Alan recounts a story about a time he was once caned for having a chalk penis drawn on the back of his school blazer by another student, an incident about which he still feels bitter. The same student also dropped Alan's swimming trunks into a urinal one day at school, despite Alan being his scout pack leader. He appears to have had a lonely childhood, and in a "Rural Alan" special feature (found on the DVD release of Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge) recounts how he would ramble about the Norfolk countryside in solitude, singing his favourite pop songs.

After passing two A-levels Partridge attended the (fictional) East Anglia Polytechnic. He later married Carol, who gave birth to Alan's son Fernando and daughter Denise. Carol left Alan for a fitness instructor (whom Alan claims to be an "idiot" and a "narcissistic sports pimp"), and took the children with her.

Radio career[edit]

Alan worked his way upwards from a position as a DJ on Radio Smile on St Luke's hospital radio, until he left, after arguments with patients. He then began presenting the drive time Traffic Buster show on Radio Norwich, where he stayed for five years and was named sports reporter of the year in 1988. He then became a presenter on the BBC's Scoutabout programme, where he entered into the top eight of BBC sports reporters. Alan soon garnered a slot presenting sports news on BBC Radio 4's On the Hour programme (1991) presented by Chris Morris. On that show Alan suffered from a severe lack of any sporting knowledge and developed a notable talent for mixed and/or nonsensical metaphors.

Alan got his first starring role in 1992 as host of BBC Radio 4's Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge (a spoof chat show with fictional guests). A typical question was "You've just published your autobiography. What's that about?" He managed to offend people on his show who would then attempt to disgrace the host. During his tenure on the show, Alan hit a child genius, unknowingly took cocaine, bribed rent boys, lost his wife's Nissan Micra in a bet, was openly homophobic, forced the resignation of a junior government minister and, in the series finale, his guest Lord Morgan of Glossop died of an apparent heart attack.

There was also a one off spoof-documentary about the show called Knowing Knowing Me, Knowing You. It provided a behind-the-scenes look at how the show was put together and the antagonism between Alan and those who worked for him, as well as giving insight into the problems with his marriage to Carol.

The Day Today[edit]

On The Hour transferred to television as The Day Today in 1994, where Alan continued as the inept sports reporter ("This is Sports Desk... I'm Alan Partridge"). Here he bungled his way through a feature on the 1994 FIFA World Cup, gave a colourful report on the previous sporting season, made a complete mess of reporting a recent horse race meeting, and was beaten up by a female martial arts instructor.

Knowing Me, Knowing You[edit]

The transition to television was to be a success for Alan, and was swiftly followed by a television version of Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge. The format was largely the same as the radio show, with the addition of a house band under the directorship of Glen Ponder (played by musical comedian Steve Brown). In the sixth episode, Alan accidentally shot dead one of his guests (Forbes McAllister) on air while examining one of the duelling pistols owned by Lord Byron. He was cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal BBC investigation. The show featured an Alan Partridge tie and blazer badge set which, like the Alan Partridge face mask, was produced but never marketed – instead the famous "Tie and Blazer Badge Set" was printed on a T-shirt and included as part of a boxed set of videos released towards the end of the 1990s.

In reality, Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge was a huge success; in the fictional world of Alan Partridge, it suffered from terrible ratings. This was because of "poor scheduling" (the show was aired at the same time as News at Ten on ITV) and Alan's PA, Lynn, claimed that "the ratings started poorly and went downhill from there".

Despite poor ratings (in-universe) Alan later hosted a Christmas special, titled Knowing Me, Knowing Yule, which was made only because it was in his contract. One of his guests was the (fictional) director of programming at the BBC, Tony Hayers (later to become Alan's nemesis, played by David Schneider). Alan, with a characteristic lack of subtlety, was seen probing for a new series of Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge. However, the show was an unmitigated disaster for Alan, as his attempt at product placement was blatantly exposed, and the show climaxed with Alan punching both a man in a wheelchair and Tony Hayers (twice) with his hand inside a roast partridge. After punching Hayers for the first time, Partridge begged "please don't take my chat away from me", then after punching him a second time declared "I'll never work in broadcasting again". Mick Hucknall of Simply Red then played the show out. It was clearly the beginning of the end of his time at BBC television. He was "kept on the books" for a short while, but after a particularly harrowing meeting with Hayers at the BBC cafeteria (which involved assault by cheese) he was left in no doubt that his BBC TV career was over.

I'm Alan Partridge[edit]

Partridge next appeared in I'm Alan Partridge (1997), a look behind the scenes of his rapidly failing career. In this television series, he is seen having gained a slot on the fictional Radio Norwich. He continues to cause offence, this time mainly to his listeners. He also has a bad relationship with his colleague Dave Clifton (played by Phil Cornwell), whom Alan occasionally insults while introducing him on his show (for example in "Alan Attraction", Alan says "Here's a man who indeed won't be killing anyone with syphilis"). However Dave usually gets the better of Alan except in "Basic Alan" where he tells Dave to "fuck off" after he torments him over a recent incident with a traffic cone. Dave is stunned by this and lays into Alan by claiming that "dead-air is a crime and that it is terrible that he has to fill it with swearing on his show". Alan's comeback refers to the correct time (7.01am) and that it is Dave's show and he is merely a guest whom Dave has failed to control, adding: "Read the smallprint on your cone-tract". By this stage in his life Alan had been kicked out by his wife and, after wandering around a John Menzies for five hours in a state of depressed homelessness, Alan had been forced to take up residence in the equally fictional Linton Travel Tavern, which he chose because it is "equidistant between London and Norwich". The first episode featured Alan meeting Tony Hayers, begging for a new series on the BBC. Hayers was not impressed, and Alan had to wrap up his production company Peartree Productions (a reference to the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas"), firing all its staff including Jill (whom he had feelings for and had a one-night stand with, albeit unsuccessfully). During his time at the Linton Travel Tavern, we discovered more about Alan's failed marriage, his children and his obsession with "Bangkok Chick Boys" (ladyboys). In "Watership Alan" he was crushed by a dead cow after insulting farmers on his show, and in "To Kill a Mocking Alan" he was nearly kidnapped by his "number one fan", a crazed stalker called Jed Maxwell.

In the final episode, Tony Hayers died after a fall from a roof, and one of Alan's old friends, Chris Feather, took over as head of programmes at the BBC. However, at the decisive moment when the new executive was about to sign a five-year contract, he keeled over and died, forcing Alan to forge the dead man's signature.

The programme itself is not presented as a documentary, but during the in-character commentary on the DVD release, Alan explains that it is in fact a "post-documentary"; all the events depicted in the series took place, but everyone in the show, apart from himself and his personal assistant Lynn Benfield (played by Felicity Montagu), were actors hired to portray them "after they had actually occurred".

Alan's next appearance was in a 1999 half-hour special filmed for Comic Relief in which Alan started to lose the plot, foreshadowing his mental breakdown in the second series of I'm Alan Partridge. In a simulcast between BBC Two and Radio Norwich, Alan appears incoherent and incapable of keeping track of the format of his own show. A second Comic Relief appearance followed in 2001, showing him interviewing a boxing manager, played by Peter Kay. Eventually, this resulted in Alan taking on one of the boxers in the ring and being beaten by the boxer, the manager and his friend Michael.

Coogan was apparently reluctant to continue playing the character, but returned for a second series of I'm Alan Partridge in 2002.

In the second series Alan was temporarily living in a caravan while waiting for his new house to be built. Despite his five-year contract with the BBC, Alan claims to his old school teacher "Sweaty" Frank Raphael in "The Talented Mr. Alan" that there was "bad blood" between them and they were "bitter bastards", plus every profession has its "shits", so they had to let him go.

Alan returned to radio, securing the "third best slot on Radio Norwich", presenting Norfolk Nights, a big leap from his former timeslot of 4am to 7am, when he presented Up With the Partridge. Alan also presents a military-based quiz show called Skirmish on the (fictional) cable station UK Conquest, and has a deal with Meteor Productions to make the Crash! Bang! Wallop!... What a Video / Scum on the Run series of car-crash videos.

In the period from his time at the Linton Travel Tavern to his residence in the temporary "static home", Alan suffered a mental breakdown and put on weight, or as he put it, was "clinically fed up" and "repellent to women for two years". This collapse culminated in Alan driving a Vauxhall Vectra to Dundee in his bare feet while gorging himself on Toblerone (in a similar incident, Alan recounts throwing all his tax receipts off a ferry). However, by 2002, his life was firmly back on track, save for the odd glitch. He even had a Ukrainian girlfriend called Sonja, who was 33 years old – 14 years younger than him (a point Alan emphasises with the smug exclamation, "Back of the net!", whilst miming kicking a football). Alan mentioned documenting this period in his life a fictional autobiography, Bouncing Back.

Memorable moments of this series include Alan dry-vomiting his way through a speech about fireplaces after impaling his foot on a spiked fence; mistakenly getting involved with swingers; attacking a six-foot stuffed Beefeater bear; his summing up the entire opening of The Spy Who Loved Me in less than a minute during a failed attempt at a 24-hour Bondathon; Lynn's baptism at her Baptist church and, of course, the pulping of his autobiography which, despite taking up four weeks of his life to write, simply wasn't selling well (partly because every anecdote ended with the phrase "Needless to say, I had the last laugh"). Unfortunately, Alan tells us, it seems the public was more concerned with buying gangster autobiographies like Bad Slags.

The second series saw a move away from the drier and more realistic style of the first, a move that was at odds with more recent sitcoms, most notably The Office. This led to it being less well received than the first. Surprisingly, producer and co-writer of the series, Armando Iannucci states in the commentary to his own DVD of The Armando Iannucci Shows, that he had recently re-watched the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, and describes it as "terrible". On the DVD commentary of the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan appears surprised at the over-the-top style he used to play Alan in the 2002 series, calling it "big acting".

Steve Coogan's profile on the BBC Comedy website talks of another series featuring Alan Partridge, entitled I'm Still Alan Partridge.[2] However, this was in fact the provisional title for I'm Alan Partridge series 2.

Anglian Lives[edit]

In 2003, Alan again returned to the screen in a half-hour special of Anglian Lives (also known as "Anglian Alan"), a fictional regional BBC show. This was presented by Ray Woollard (Peter Baynham, who had appeared previously in I'm Alan Partridge as the voice-box-using executive from the boat holiday company in "Watership Alan") and "Digital Dave", and was basically a sycophantic look at Alan's career, past and present; the credits listed it as being executively produced by Alan himself and produced by his company, Apache Productions. It shed more detail on Alan's hatred of London, his Toblerone addiction, and his future.

Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge[edit]

In August 2010, it was reported that Alan Partridge would make a comeback series online for lager company Foster's.[3] On 8 October 2010, it was announced that the new show, entitled Alan Partridge's Mid Morning Matters, would premiere on 5 November 2010 on Foster's comedy site, http://www.fostersfunny.co.uk . In a press release, Steve Coogan announced, in character:

"I am delighted to announce that after years as a regional broadcaster on North Norfolk Digital my groundbreaking radio segment, Mid Morning Matters, will now be accessible to a potential audience of billions via the World Wide Web (www).

That it has taken Foster's to help realise my dream of joining the information superhighway is a damning indictment of the established broadcasters whose shabby treatment of me on Sept 10th 2001 was frankly shabby. I made dozens of calls the next day, all of which were ignored.

My appreciation must go to Armando Iannucci and Baby Cow for ignoring the lies, God bless them. In the meantime I look forward to 'hanging out 'n' chillin' with the MySpace generation."[4]

After the six episodes aired online, in December 2010, Armando Iannucci confirmed on Twitter that "there will be 6 more Alan Partridge Mid Morning Matters starting in February." This series started on 4 February 2011, as episode 7, and ran every Friday until episode 12 on 11 March 2011.

In Mid Morning Matters, Alan again works as a disc jockey, this time on the fictional station 'North Norfolk Digital'. He is occasionally joined by 'Side-kick Simon', played by Tim Key, who after Episode 10 is fired due to Alan's gradually developing dislike towards him. Alan is noticeably annoyed when he discovers that Simon had started guesting as a side-kick on another radio show (a late night comedy show). Much of the comedy surrounding Simon was his failure to grasp political correctness on sensitive issues which Alan would have to cover for when Simon slipped. After his departure, Alan recruits a new side-kick, 'Zoe', and quickly develops a crush on her. In the twelfth and final episode of Mid Morning Matters, Zoe reveals she is going travelling for three months, much to Alan's disappointment. The episode ends with a shot through the window into the recording booth as Zoe hugs Alan and gives him a kiss on the cheek; there is no sound and it is unknown what Alan has said to warrant this reaction. This is a rare low-key ending to an Alan Partridge series with the high point culminating in Episode 10 when Alan scolds Side-kick Simon following a practical joke on Alan.

In Episode 3, released on 18 November 2010, Alan invites listeners to vote for "simply the best of Norfolk" (who is the best person Norfolk has produced?) in which he makes reference to Bernard Matthews ("he is tantalisingly close to producing the ten-pence turkey, now there's a thought..."). Matthews died a week later, on 25 November 2010.

Following the series, Alan appeared again as part of the Red Nose Day 2011 set for a one-off show akin to the Mid Morning Matters arrangement, and here Side-kick Simon reappears in his former capacity. Here, Alan interviews a nun over whom he sneezes blood by mistake. The series was written by Steve Coogan, Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons and Armando Iannucci.

On 4 October 2011, co-writer Neil Gibbons announced on his Twitter feed that a second series of Mid Morning Matters was in development.[5] On 10 November 2011, it was reported that the rights to the current and future series of Mid Morning Matters were to be acquired by Sky to be shown on Sky Atlantic.[6]

I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan[edit]

On 22 July 2011, Armando Iannucci announced on his Twitter feed that "Alan Partridge [had] delivered his autobiography to the publishers".[7] The book was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 29 September 2011, and is entitled I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan. It is available in hardcover, paperback and ePub formats. An unabridged audio version recorded by Steve Coogan in character as Partridge was released on CD and downloadable audio formats also in 2011.[8] Alan Partridge promoted the autobiography on ITV's The Jonathan Ross Show show on 1 October 2011.[9] It was met with positive reviews, the Telegraph commending its index as "one of the top five indexes of all time",[10] and was a commercial success.[11][12][13]

Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life[edit]

In this one-hour special, which aired on 25 June 2012 on Sky Atlantic, Alan takes the viewer with him on a tour of Norfolk. "From the Riverside Leisure Centre, Norwich City Hall and his local newsagent to the luscious expanse of Thetford Forest, Alan explores the key landmarks and natural beauty spots that have led some people to call Norfolk the 'Wales of the east'."[14] It was stated, by several critics and newspapers, that the show was highly anticipated, was generally well received by fans and critics, and received a BAFTA nomination.[15][16][17][18][19][20] [21][22][23]

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa[edit]

In August 2004 a small piece appeared in the Metro newspaper which claimed: "Steve Coogan got the green light from a US studio to play the spoof DJ on the big screen." Coogan reportedly said: "It's always been my plan to make Alan go global. It's what he lives for really, not just doing the show on Radio Norwich."

In April 2005, Coogan's production firm Baby Cow announced that an Alan Partridge movie was in the pipeline.[24][25] It was later revealed the film would involve an al-Qaeda siege. Due to the sensitivities of such a storyline after the 7 July 2005 London bombings, the project was put on hold.[26]

In 2005, Armando Iannucci, who helped Coogan create Partridge, said he did not want to be involved in any movie spin-off, saying: "Steve wants to do an Alan Partridge film, but I couldn't bear to go through that again. For me, the idea of spending two more years in a room with that voice is more than I can take". However, in later interviews, Iannucci became more positive about the idea.

The movie's screenplay was written by Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Rob Gibbons and Neil Gibbons - plus Peter Baynham - with the story taking place in Norwich, where North Norfolk Digital, Alan's employer, is taken over by a huge media conglomerate and renamed Shape.[27]

The film was directed by Declan Lowney[28] and has been co-produced by French company studio StudioCanal and Coogan's own production company Baby Cow, with support from BBC Films and the BFI Film Fund.[29]

The film was released on 7 August 2013 to critical acclaim[30] and opened at number one at the box office in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[31]

List of appearances[edit]

Top Gear[edit]

In March 2015, Partridge was nominated by the public and media as a potential replacement for Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC motoring show Top Gear, following Clarkson's high-profile suspension from the programme. As of 19 March 2015, some 30,000 people had signed a petition on campaigning website change.org in support of Coogan's character as the new host.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huddleston, Tom (2013-08-01). "Armando Iannucci interview - Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa - Time Out Film". Timeout.com. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  2. ^ "Coogan's profile". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  3. ^ "In pictures: Alan Partridge makes internet comeback". BBC Norfolk. 2010-08-31. Archived from the original on 3 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-31. 
  4. ^ "Brand New Alan Partridge exclusive to Foster's". Foster's Funny. 2010-10-08. Archived from the original on 11 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  5. ^ "Mid Morning Matters series 2 in development". 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  6. ^ "Sky Atlantic Acquire Rights to Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge!". Retrieved 2011-11-16. 
  7. ^ Iannucci, Armando. "@Aiannucci Twitter feed". Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  8. ^ HarperCollins Publishers. "I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan". Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  9. ^ AlanPartridge.net. "Alan Partridge on Jonathan Ross Tonight". Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Payne, Tom (14 October 2011). "I, Partridge by Alan Partridge and Small Man in a Book by Rob Brydon: review". Telegraph. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Julian Hall (2011-10-14). "I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan by Alan Partridge - Reviews - Books". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  12. ^ Edmund Gordon (2011-11-23). "I, Partridge by Alan Partridge - review | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  13. ^ Nick Curtis (2011-10-13). "I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan - review - Books - Arts - Evening Standard". Thisislondon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  14. ^ "Brand New Alan Partridge - Welcome to the Places of My Life, Open Books, Midmorning Matters - Sky Atlantic HD". Skyatlantic.sky.com. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  15. ^ Lawrence, Ben (2012-06-26). "Alan Partridge, Sky Atlantic, review". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  16. ^ Tom Sutcliffe (2012-06-26). "Last night's viewing - Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life, Sky Atlantic; Reviews". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  17. ^ "Alan Partridge | Television & radio". The Guardian. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  18. ^ Glanfield, Tim (2012-06-21). "Sky Atlantic delivers the best Alan Partridge of the 21st Century". Radio Times. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  19. ^ "Alan Partridge on Sky Atlantic preview: A Partridge Pilgrimage - TV Blog". Digital Spy. 2012-06-21. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  20. ^ Shennan, Paddy (2012-06-23). "Paddy Shennan’s TV review: What’s coming up . . . next week’s TV - ECHO Entertainment News - Entertainment". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  21. ^ Bettridge, Daniel (2012-06-22). "Six to watch: Alan Partridge's best bits | Television & radio | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  22. ^ John Crace (2012-06-25). "TV review: Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life; Veep; Walking and Talking | Television & radio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  23. ^ 25 June 2012 (2012-06-25). "Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places of My Life Review". Channelhopping.onthebox.com. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  24. ^ "Coogan plans Alan Partridge movie'". BBC News Online. 2005-04-19. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  25. ^ "I Am Not Alan Partridge'". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  26. ^ Guy Adams (2006-04-13). "The 'red-socked fop' returns to the fray". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  27. ^ "Meet the men who made Alan Partridge funnier than ever". Radio Times. 2012-06-25. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  28. ^ "Armando Iannucci On Alan Partridge Movie". Empire. 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  29. ^ "'The Alan Partridge Movie' receives August 2013 release date". NME. 2012-06-26. Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  30. ^ "BBC News - Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa tops the UK box office". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-08-12. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  31. ^ Patrick, Seb (2013-08-13). "'Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa' is the 'Top Daddy' of the UK Box Office | Anglophenia". BBC America. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  32. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-31933041

External links[edit]