Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
|Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa|
UK theatrical poster
|Directed by||Declan Lowney|
|Based on||Characters created
by Steve Coogan
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Editing by||Mark Everson|
|Distributed by||StudioCanal UK|
|Running time||90 minutes|
|Box office||£6.2 million (to September 2013; UK only)|
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (to be released as Alan Partridge in the United States) is a 2013 British action comedy film starring Steve Coogan reprising his portrayal of Alan Partridge, a fictional presenter he has played on various BBC radio and television shows since 1991. The film was directed by Declan Lowney, and written by Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham, Neil Gibbons, and Rob Gibbons. Principal photography began on 7 January 2013 in Norwich and Mitcham, South London, and the film premièred on 24 July 2013. The film was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 7 August 2013, where it opened at number one in the box office. Magnolia Pictures is to distribute the film in America. A book of the screenplay was published on 21 November 2013.
A local radio station in Norwich, North Norfolk Digital, has been bought out by a multinational conglomerate and is about to be re-branded as "Shape", with staff members facing redundancies. DJ Alan Partridge is unconcerned about the change but his colleague Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) fears for his job, and pleads with Alan to gatecrash a board meeting and persuade the new owners not to get rid of him. When Alan inadvertently discovers it is either Pat or himself that must go, he betrays Pat, writing "JUST SACK PAT" on the meeting room flipchart. Pat is later asked to leave.
That evening the new owners of the station host a party and while Alan is outside with his assistant, Lynn (Felicity Montagu), Pat enters the station with a shotgun and holds the staff hostage. Alan returns to the party and is shot at by Pat. Escaping and commandeering a car he heads to the nearest police station (just over the road) to report events. The police press Alan into service as a negotiator, establish a command centre in a nearby school and send him back into the station to speak to Pat.
Alan builds an uneasy rapport with Pat, who explains that he just wants his job back, and together with Alan's co-presenter, Sidekick Simon (Tim Key), they continue to host an on-off radio show during the siege. Alan daydreams several times about being a hero and ending the siege, but cannot bring himself to grab Pat's gun. As the siege becomes national news, Lynn is persuaded to ditch her frumpy style for a TV interview and Alan's ego swells because of his pivotal role. He steals a kiss from a co-worker named Angela who caught his eye earlier in the day (Monica Dolan).
Alan accidentally locks himself out of the building and loses his trousers whilst trying to get back in through a window. The police realise he is ineffective as a negotiator and instead try to send in an undercover officer disguised as a pizza delivery man, but Alan interrupts and takes the pizzas in himself. Once inside, he discovers a taser in one of the boxes, and an argument erupts between the hostages during which the police burst in. Pat manages to escape, along with Alan and his faithful Geordie friend Michael (Simon Greenall) in the station's tour bus.
While on the bus Pat and Alan continue to host the radio show, and it seems as if they trust one another again. But when looking at a photo of the radio management, Pat notices Alan's "JUST SACK PAT" message on the flipchart in the background, and, recognising the handwriting, deduces Alan was behind his redundancy. Alan hides in the bus's portaloo and escapes in the septic tank.
On Cromer Pier, Pat faces off with Alan and the police. Michael tries to distract Pat by throwing himself off the pier (to no effect), and Pat explains he is depressed due to the death of his wife. Unable to shoot himself with the long-barrelled shotgun, Pat gives the gun to Alan, who throws the weapon aside and is shot in the leg as it goes off, and also accidentally in the shoulder by a police sniper. Lynn arrives thinking that Alan is dead but a paramedic assures him he will be fine.
Alan returns to North Norfolk Digital along with the (somewhat shell-shocked) Sidekick Simon and a weekly call-in from Pat, who has now been jailed. Alan has also formed a relationship with mother-of-two Angela and is seen driving off on holiday with her and her two boys, towing a boat on a trailer bearing the legend "Alpha Papa".
Several characters from the original show make appearances in the film. Steve Coogan is Alan Partridge, alongside his I'm Alan Partridge co-stars Felicity Montagu, as Alan's put-upon personal assistant Lynn Benfield, Phil Cornwell as rival DJ Dave Clifton and Simon Greenall as Alan's troubled Geordie friend Michael. Comedian and poet Tim Key reprises his role as Sidekick Simon from the Mid Morning Matters series while Colm Meaney, who shares billing alongside Coogan in publicity for the film, stars as Pat Farrell.
- Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge
- Felicity Montagu as Lynn Benfield
- Simon Greenall as Michael the Geordie
- Colm Meaney as Pat Farrell
- Sean Pertwee as SFA Steve Stubbs
- Anna Maxwell Martin as CC Janet Whitehead
- Darren Boyd as Martin Fitch
- Nigel Lindsay as Jason Cresswell
- Simon Delaney as Don
- Monica Dolan as Angela Ashbourne
- Tim Key as "Sidekick" Simon Denton
- Paul Blackwell as police officer
- Phil Cornwell as Dave Clifton
- Darren Deans as Radio Station Voiceover
Alan Partridge, portrayed by Steve Coogan, was created as a character in 1991 for the radio show On the Hour by Coogan, Armando Iannucci, and Patrick Marber, with input from writers Stewart Lee and Richard Herring. The character is an egotistical television presenter and radio announcer, whose presenting style is a parody of cliched media reporting or presentation. The character's fictional career has been charted in several British television and radio programmes, as well as in the book I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan, a spoof autobiography.
Rumours about an Alan Partridge film began in August 2004, when a small piece appeared in The Metro newspaper which claimed Coogan had been given the green light from a US studio for a Partridge film. 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. It was later revealed the film would involve an al-Qaeda siege, but due to the sensitivities of such a storyline after the July 2005 London bombings, the project was put on hold. Playwright Patrick Marber, whose early collaborations with Coogan included The Day Today and Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge, had also been working on the script, while actress Felicity Montagu, who plays Partridge's personal assistant Lynn, also confirmed that there had been discussions about the film. Further details of the film were released in November 2007. The plot of the film involved Alan Partridge attempting another comeback from local radio, only to have his ambitions thwarted when Middle Eastern terrorists hijack the BBC offices. Coogan had written some dialogue, but at the time he was uncertain of whether he wanted to revisit Partridge.
In 2010, Armando Iannucci confirmed that a film was definitely in the works, and as well as announcing that the film would not be based on Partridge travelling to the USA: "Steve and I have agreed a story for the film. It's NOT Alan goes to America." Meanwhile, the character was revived for a web series Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, as well as two one-off specials produced for Sky Atlantic. In 2012, Iannucci stated that the as-yet-untitled film was in pre-production and would be shooting later in the year for a 2013 UK release, and would be directed by Declan Lowney of Father Ted fame. The film is a co-production between Baby Cow Productions, BBC Films, the BFI Film Fund, and StudioCanal. The film has a budget of £4 million. It will be released in the UK by StudioCanal. In March 2013, a teaser trailer for the film revealed the title to be Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Release and reception
After a campaign named "Anglia Square not Leicester Square" the world premiere was held in Anglia Square, Norwich on 24 July 2013 with Steve Coogan appearing in character. Steve Coogan greeted fans at Anglia Square before being whisked away by helicopter to London to attend a full premiere in Leicester Square. In its opening weekend, the film grossed £2.18 million at the UK box office, beating Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Grown Ups 2 for the number one spot. As of 22 September 2013, Alpha Papa had grossed a total of £6.12 million at the UK Box Office. It was released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 2 December 2013.
The film was released to critical acclaim in the UK, and it currently holds an 84% "Fresh" approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 32 reviews, while Metacritic scores the film at 65%, based on 11 reviews.
James Mottram, who reviewed the film for Total Film, gave the film four stars out of five, saying "Smartly executed, endlessly quotable and machine-gun quick, this is one of the funniest films of 2013." Empire's Dan Jolin awarded the film four stars out of five, stating "it provides a masterclass in physical character comedy courtesy of the Alan himself...Ruddy hilarious. Just what big-screen comedy needed."
Chris Tilly, who reviewed the film for IGN, gave the film 8.5 out of 10, saying "It's not easy to take a beloved TV character and replicate their success on film...But Steve Coogan and co have nailed it with the first Alan Partridge movie, a gloriously entertaining comedy that resembles a Hollywood blockbuster...while at the same time staying true to the roots of the character." Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph gave the film a mixed review. He said, in a three out of five star review, that "Alpha Papa allows Alan Partridge to dream big – or biggish, anyway – for the first time in the character’s 21-year history. But since when was he the man of our dreams?"
A book of the screenplay, titled Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Script and Scrapped, which includes stage directions, material that did not find its way into the film, a foreword by Steve Coogan and notes by the film's writers, was published by HarperCollins on 21 November 2013.
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