I'm Alan Partridge
|I'm Alan Partridge|
Title screen, featuring Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge, wearing his trademark green blazer. (1997)
|Created by||Peter Baynham
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||12 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||27-29 minutes (approximately)|
|Original channel||BBC Two|
|Picture format||4:3 Series 1, 16:9 Series 2|
|Original run||3 November 1997– 16 December 2002|
|Preceded by||Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge|
|Followed by||Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge|
|Related shows||The Thick of It
In the Loop
I'm Alan Partridge is a BBC situation comedy starring Steve Coogan, of which two series of six episodes each were produced — the first in 1997 and the second in 2002. The series followed the titular Alan Partridge, a failed television presenter whose previous exploits had featured in the chat-show parody Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, and who is now presenting a programme on local radio in Norwich.
Both series were written by Peter Baynham (who also appears in one episode), Coogan and Armando Iannucci; supporting Coogan were Felicity Montagu as his faithful, mouse-like personal assistant, Lynn Benfield; Simon Greenall as Geordie Travel Tavern handyman/BP garage attendant Michael; and Phil Cornwell as disc jockey (DJ) Dave Clifton.
- Alan Partridge (Coogan)
- The main character of the series, Alan, a former host on Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge on BBC television, was dismissed from the BBC partly for punching Chief Commissioning Editor Tony Hayers in the face with a stuffed partridge and partly because his programmes were of a low standard, delivering ever-declining ratings. In series one he is divorced from his wife Carol, lives in the Linton Travel Tavern and is reduced to working the graveyard shift on Radio Norwich whilst desperately trying to get back on television in any capacity.
- By series two — following an off-screen mental breakdown — he has pulled himself up slightly. He lives in a static caravan next to the dream house he is building. Besides this he has a radio show in the evening, hosts military-based quiz show on digital television (on fictional channel UK Conquest, which has the highest audience share for any programme "at that time of day in the Norfolk area"), he has published his autobiography, and he has a girlfriend, Sonja. Alan is generally loathsome and narcissistic with very poor social skills and a largely empty personal life.
- Lynn Benfield (Montagu)
- Alan's hard-working, long-suffering, personal assistant, Lynn appears to run Alan's life to such an extent that he cannot survive without her organisational skills; despite this, he usually treats her with little more than contempt. Besides dealing with Alan's working-life, Lynn's other duties range from the banal to the truly ridiculous — accompanying Alan to visit a show home, buying medicinal powder for Alan's fungal foot infections, cooling Alan with a hand-fan, and frequently listening patiently to Alan's pointless conversations and endless whining.
- Lynn is a member of a local Baptist church, which Alan finds strange but is willing to tolerate. Her mother, with whom Lynn possibly lives, is apparently housebound, but Lynn seems able to balance her life between looking after her mother's affairs and those of Alan. When accompanying Alan, Lynn appears inhibited by him, but seems capable of easily blending into social situations when Alan is not present. Despite her intense and frequently ludicrous workload, Lynn receives a paltry £8,000 per year, due to Alan's greedy penny-pinching.
- By the second series, her mother has died, and Lynn finds romance with a fellow churchgoer, a retired policeman. At the celebration following her church baptism, she is shown to have many friends and is held in high regard by other churchmembers.
- Michael (Greenall)
- An all-purpose worker at the Linton Travel Tavern, Michael speaks with a heavy Geordie accent, which Alan barely understands (or claims not to) and, being Alan, never fails to demand clarification. Michael is arguably Alan's only friend, and Alan is glad of his presence when he needs to have a heart-to-heart or, more often, inane chat; their friendship is clearly not on an even basis, however, as Michael only ever refers to Alan as 'Mr. Partridge' and Alan clearly regards Michael with a great deal of disdain. Michael is almost as desperate and neurotic a character as Alan, and is very emotionally disturbed (shown most clearly when Alan looks out of his room window to see Michael tearing at his hair in a state of some distress).
- Michael frequently tells stories of his time in the British army, to the delight of Alan, especially if they are of a salacious or violent nature. During a period of military placement in the Philippines, Michael married a Filipino woman, and the two moved back to Michael's native Newcastle upon Tyne. However, his wife left him and now lives with his brother in Sunderland, possibly shedding light on the origins of Michael's neuroticism. In the last episode of the first series, Michael appears at Alan's party already drunk on Scrumpy Jack and proceeds to insult the other guests.
- He is also a recurring character in the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, where he has left the Linton Travel Tavern and now works in a BP petrol station.
- Dave Clifton (Cornwell)
- Dave is a Radio Norwich DJ who runs the programme right after Alan's "graveyard slot" show. During the handover every morning, Alan always tries to engage in witty banter with Dave, but their chatting fails to disguise the bitter rivalry between them. Dave is an alcoholic and has a driving ban, according to Alan. Much to Alan's surprise and chagrin, Dave is a friend of Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley.
- Dave also appears in the second series, where he now works the graveyard shift (after Alan's shift) and appears to have resumed drinking. Though he sometimes gets the better of Alan in their exchanges, usually Alan, as he would put it, "has the last laugh".
Series one only
- Susan Foley (Barbara Durkin)
- The manager of the Linton Travel Tavern, Susan appears to be a stereotypical front-desk worker, with a dazzling smile and sickly sweet manner. However, even these forced skills are not enough to deal with Alan's clumsy, half-hearted flirting and mindless anecdotes. Alan frequently makes tactless comments to Susan about her appearance (once suggesting to her that she "could have been throwing up all night" but that her smile would not falter). In reaction to these comments, Susan's painted-on smile is sometimes momentarily replaced by a look of shock and bemusement.
- Susan displays a general dislike of Alan, becoming increasingly bored with his feeble attempts at conversation as the series progresses, and at one stage being terrified by Alan's poorly-planned practical joke in which he dresses as a zombie and creeps up on her at reception. Nevertheless, she never says a harsh word to Alan - at least, until the end of the last episode, in which she finally tells Alan what she thinks of him at his leaving party.
- (Barbara Durkin previously played the part of the winning contestant of the Beauty Contest featured in the fifth episode of 'Knowing Me Knowing You', although the character is unrelated.)
- Sophie (Sally Phillips)
- 27 years old, Sophie is a recently employed receptionist at the Travel Tavern, Sophie is also rarely without a smile; however, in her case it is normally because she is suppressing a laugh over Alan's antics. While Susan brushes off Alan's social faux pas with a smile, Sophie is rarely able to control her laughter at Alan's appalling lack of social skills, and often has to leave reception to prevent laughing in his face. Much to Alan's annoyance, he is sometimes aware that Sophie often jokes about him behind his back.
- Ben (James Lance)
- Ben is another member of staff at the Travel Tavern and Sophie's 22 year old boyfriend. Alan is jealous of Ben's romance with Sophie, confused by the fact that she is 5 years older than Ben, and does his best to sabotage their romantic trysts, most notably looking out of his room's window to see them sneaking around the back of the building to have sex. In later episodes, Alan attempts to forge a friendship with Ben, despite Alan's earlier irritation at Ben's informal and somewhat laid-back manner. Predictably, Alan's attempts to befriend Ben are clumsy and unsuccessful.
Series two only
- Sonja (Amelia Bullmore)
- Alan's thick-accented Ukrainian girlfriend. Sonja, who is fourteen years Alan's junior, possesses a very excitable, scatterbrained personality which leads Alan to describe her as 'mildly cretinous'. Easily amused, she delights greatly in pulling lame practical jokes and showering Alan with cheap (and unwanted) gifts such as London souvenirs and personalised coffee mugs and cushions emblazoned with their faces. She is very devoted to Alan and clearly treasures him, although he demonstrates little genuine affection for her in return and clearly bases their relationship around the ego-boost produced by their age difference and the sex.
In series one, the former chat-show host Alan has been divorced by his wife, Carol; has distanced himself from his children and ended up living in the Linton Travel Tavern, a cheap motel equidistant between London and Norwich. At this stage of his life, Alan's career consists of broadcasting his own radio programme, Up with the Partridge, on the fictional Radio Norwich during dead time (4:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.), and occasionally making corporate appearances for various low-profile local businesses. Alan's personal life is shown to be crushingly empty; he has separated from his wife, and his only interaction with other people consists of chatting mindlessly to his personal assistant Lynn, the staff of the Linton Travel Tavern, and receiving infrequent phone calls from Bill Oddie.
Two unusual plot devices used during the series surround Alan's somewhat neurotic personal life.
One device consists of glimpses into his mind, depicting a fantasy night-club, which Alan seems to think of often and at the most inappropriate moments. In his club fantasies, Alan is a table dancer, dancing for whichever television authority he aims to please (usually Hayers, but also two Irish television executives he meets on one occasion). Even in these fantasies, Alan retains his unbearably boring and socially inept persona; he dances in a rubber thong but this is offset by wearing his jumper, shirt and tie in addition to his "erotic" apparel, and in his fantasies, Alan launches into his trademark dull and inane conversations.
The second plot device used throughout the series revolves around a drawer in Alan's hotel room. The viewers never see what is in the drawer, but the contents are occasionally glimpsed by other characters; Lynn becomes speechless when seeing the contents, Sophie bursts into a fit of giggling, and Alan himself goes to extreme lengths to keep the drawer closed when people are in the room.
Series one was first released on DVD in the UK in 2002 and in the United States on 24 October 2006. The DVD features additional scenes and two commentary tracks. One featuring standard commentary from the writers whilst the second features Coogan and Montagu 'in character' as Alan & Lynn discussing the events in the episodes and frequently arguing with each other.
- 1. "A Room with an Alan" — Alan and Lynn view a show-home, where Alan displays his usual behaviour, and manages both to confuse and to bore the estate agent. Later in the day, Alan attends a luncheon at the BBC headquarters with Hayers (David Schneider), the fictional programme commissioner of the BBC, about the possibility of a second series of Knowing Me, Knowing You. Apparently unaware of how low his chances really are, he puts the nail in the coffin by desperately offering a range of ridiculous, badly thought-out ideas for new programmes (such as "monkey tennis") that bore, bewilder, and eventually upset Hayers.
- When he is told that he is not to be re-commissioned, Alan attacks Hayers with a lump of cheese and flees the restaurant while shouting "I've got cheese, this is cheese!". After a heart-to-heart with Lynn, Alan returns to his hotel room, attempts to order an Irish coffee, turns on "Jet" by Wings and gives himself a black eye while attempting an athletic leap from his bed to the mini-bar.
- 2. "Alan Attraction" — Without a second series of his programme, Alan is forced to fire all the staff at his company, Peartree Productions. However, when the staff ask him if he has a second series, Alan panics, and tells them that he has been successful.
- While the staff prepare a party, and Jill, his ageing, chain-smoking, divorcee receptionist (Julia Deakin) goes out to buy some snacks, Alan tries to extricate himself by firing staff members for various "offences," such as leaving an unwashed coffee cup on the table and rolling eyes. While he is locked in his boardroom, the staff leave.
- Jill returns, wondering where everyone has got to (he tells her they have gone to a spice museum) and the two go on a date to a nearby owl sanctuary, where Alan's attempts at conversation bewilder Jill.
- In the evening, the two attend a Valentine's Day dinner at the Travel Tavern, where Alan makes a fool of himself by singing "Close To You" for her with the hired band, and Lynn repeatedly attempts to sabotage Alan's evening with the uncouth Jill. Alan and Jill return to his room, and in one of the most memorable moments of the series, Alan attempts to make love to Jill while providing a running commentary and, at the critical moment, attempts a discussion of the pedestrianisation of the Norwich city centre 'to keep the Wolf from the door, so to speak'. After Jill's attempts at eroticism, involving covering Alan in chocolate mousse, Alan becomes angry. At work at the radio station that night he tells Jill she is sacked.
- 3. "Watership Alan" — After making various unsympathetic comments about farming on his radio show, Alan becomes an object of hatred for local farmers. But he does not have time to worry about this as he is more concerned with shooting an advertisement for a small boating-holiday company. In the Travel Tavern's bar, during an initial interview with the video executives (Peter Baynham and Simon Pegg), Alan panics and invents the ladyboy drink combination, the effects of which result in him phoning his ex-wife Carol, where he tries to insult her partner's car.
- On his radio show, Alan interviews the leader of the local Farmers' Union (Chris Morris), but instead of apologising, enrages local farmers even further by making increasingly insane comments about farmers. On the day of the video-shoot, Alan attempts to blend in with the hard-drinking crew and again displays his chronic lack of basic social skills. During the shoot, riddled with examples of Alan's pathetic ineptitude, he is crushed by a dead cow thrown from a bridge by the disgruntled local farmers.
- Alan returns from hospital with a neck brace and broken fingers, and is forced to humiliate himself by phoning reception and asking Susan to 'make pornography come on my television', after previously asking for such channels to be disconnected after the staff found out about his interest in Bangkok lady-boy programs. He then discovers his request to be a pointless waste of time, due to his hand injury.
- 4. "Basic Alan" — There are major refurbishments taking place at the Linton Travel Tavern, during which the hotel is closed, leaving Alan as the only guest. Throughout the episode, he is desperately bored and does various things to pass the time, including dismantling a trouser press, walking along a dual-carriageway to a petrol station to buy several bottles of windscreen washer fluid, driving round the ring-road three times, buying some tungsten-tipped screws he never intends to use and dressing up as a zombie in a poorly planned practical joke. His boredom culminates with an incompetent attempt to steal a traffic cone, with Michael and Lynn.
- 5. "To Kill a Mocking Alan" — Alan hosts "An Afternoon with Alan Partridge" at the Travel Tavern which is attended by his self-confessed "biggest fan", Jed Maxwell. He is also visited by Irish network executives (Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews) who are considering giving him a show on Irish television. Naturally, they are less than impressed by Alan (particularly regarding his ignorant take on the Troubles), though they do get along very well with Lynn. Through a series of mishaps, the three of them end up at Jed's house. Having no home of his own, Alan pretends he cohabits with Jed, with extremely awkward consequences. After Alan and the Irishmen discover that Jed's fandom is of a highly obsessive nature, with one of the rooms acting as shrine to the presenter, the two executives make their excuses and leave, leaving Alan alone. Alan becomes increasingly worried about his own safety and, following an altercation with Jed, he escapes and is seen running across nearby fields to flee the crazed and embittered fan.
- 6. "Towering Alan" — After a depressing afternoon hosting a small village fayre and judging the vegetable competition, Alan is delighted to discover that Hayers has died and his successor, Chris Feather, is a man who had actually always supported, and liked Alan. Attending Hayers' funeral (he knows Feather will be there) he immediately snaps up the opportunity to finally win his sought-after second series, but not before another shock death threatens to throw his dream into tatters.
The series ended with a party in Alan's room as Alan and Lynn tidied up to the theme from The Adventures of Black Beauty, after all the guests have prematurely left. The series ends on a surprisingly upbeat note, with Alan pretty pleased with himself.
By series two, the viewer catches up with Alan five years after he left the Linton Travel Tavern. Despite winning a five-year contract at the end of the first series, bad blood between the BBC and Alan had forced him to leave once again. He admits that in the intervening time he'd been "clinically fed up", having a nervous breakdown which culminated in him putting on a lot of weight and driving a Vauxhall Vectra to Dundee in his bare feet whilst gorging on Toblerones.
He also threw his tax receipts off a ferry during what he called "a low point". By the start of this series, he believes himself to have "bounced back", titling his poorly selling autobiography Bouncing Back.
As well as his book, he has Radio Norwich's third-best slot (his rival from Series 1, Dave Clifton, again follows his show, but this is now a 'graveyard' midnight slot). He also hosts a "military-based game show called Skirmish" on fictional cable television channel "UK Conquest" and has released a video of car accidents entitled Crash, Bang, Wallop, What a Video!
Alan now finds himself living in a static caravan outside his partially built dream home. He is flanked by his friend Michael, who has left his job at the Travel Tavern to become a cashier at a local BP garage (this recalls Alan's odd question in the first episode of the first series to the estate agent, when he asked if there were any petrol stations near the house with minimarts - "scaled down supermarket, fits inside a petrol station").
Alan now has two women in his life, not only is he still tended to by his long-suffering and underpaid personal assistant Lynn but he has a younger Ukrainian girlfriend, Sonia (Bullmore).
- 1. "The Talented Mr Alan" — While visiting Michael at the petrol station, Alan has a chance meeting with his old teacher Frank "Sweaty" (or "Cacky") Raphael (Andrew Burt, who also provided the voice-overs for the various Radio Norwich jingles in both series). Alan convinces Raphael to let him give a talk to the sixth formers at the school where Raphael is now headmaster.
- Whilst at the school, Alan bumps into an old schoolmate who is now a teacher (Ian Puleston-Davies). They try to reminisce over old times, but Alan still holds a grudge against this man, who once drew a penis on the back of his school blazer in chalk; which Alan was caned for.
- Later Alan begins his talk to the students which, of course, all goes wrong. Alan ends up insulting Raphael for caning him when he was younger and also insults his schoolmate for "getting the lab assistant pregnant, and never sees the kid." All of this results in Alan receiving a stern talking-to in the headmaster's office.
- Towards the end of the episode, the reviled schoolmate comes into the petrol station; Alan, thinking he has come to fight, tries to threaten him with an apple turnover. The schoolmate apologises to Alan and hopes that they can be friends again, but as the schoolmate leaves the petrol station a customer tells him that he has got something on his back: Alan got Lynn to draw a chalk penis on his back.
- The episode ends with Alan being besieged in the petrol station.
- 2. "The Colour of Alan" — Michael comes to stay for a few days after his front door is stolen; Alan is asked to present a sales conference for "Dante's of Reading," a company that supplies coal-effect fires and fireplaces. Dante's Piet Morant (Steve Brody), a South African, visits Alan's partially built house.
- After his frequent pranks with the security staff at his country club backfire and the police are called, Alan is forced to bring Piet to his partially built house. Lynn and Michael improvise some make-shift furniture in the empty house: they balance a toilet door on a Black & Decker Workmate for a table and attach several torches to a bicycle wheel for lighting. This fails to impress Morant, who is even less impressed by Alan's attempt at a South African accent or his misunderstanding of Piets pronunciation of the word 'can't'.
- Nevertheless, Alan is awarded the job, but tragedy ensues when Alan tries to climb over a country club's fence and impales his foot on a metal spike. Lynn tells him to stay in hospital but Alan is completely adamant about doing the speech for "Dante's of Reading." Unfortunately, his dry vomiting and foot pain turn his speech into a disaster.
- 3. "Brave Alan" — Alan makes a new friend at the BP garage, Dan (Stephen Mangan). They both like the same beer, use the same deodorant, and drive 'Lexii' ("the plural of Lexus").
- Dan owns "Kitchen Planet" on the A47 and arranges for Alan to present the Colman's Mustard Bravery Awards. Alan's attempts to impress Karen Colman are hugely unsuccessful; he even admits to her that he had mental health issues. She strikes up an instant rapport with Sonia, however, later inviting her back to her house without Alan.
- On hearing that the Colmans' family motto is "Too much mustard gets up your nose," Alan tries desperately to impress her by eating a big spoonful of mustard. However, an unimpressed Karen has put this down to Alan's previously declared "mental health", leaving him further humiliated.
- Later, at Dan's home, Alan finds out that Dan and his wife enjoy a deviantly spicy lifestyle; to his great discomfort, they show him a tape of them having intercourse.
- 4. "Never Say Alan Again" — Alan plans a Bond-athon (watching all the Bond films in sequential order) for the bank holiday weekend with Michael. Lynn reveals to Alan that she has a new friend, Gordon, an ex-policeman who threatens Alan for mistreating Lynn at times.
- The Bond weekend all goes pear-shaped when Lynn accidentally destroys his Bond movies after spilling Sunny Delight over them. Alan is about to give her the full force of his anger when Gordon stands up next to her: Alan panics, backs down and decides to take his anger out on his breakfast cereals instead.
- When he discovers that Michael has another friend, Tex (Peter Serafinowicz), he becomes jealous and falls out with Michael, un-inviting him to the Bond-athon. Alan targets John the builder for his new friend/protector-from-Gordon. After patching things up with Michael, Alan discovers that Tex has taped over the one undamaged Bond film with an episode of "America's Strongest Man."
- Because of this, he declares himself "Norfolk's Maddest Man" and decides to give the group a physical run-through of the entire opening sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me.
- 5. "I Know What Alan Did Last Summer" — The Inland Revenue are due to call and carry out a random investigation on Alan's business affairs, causing him to worry. The Inland Revenue people arrive earlier than the set time, catching Alan dancing around (playing air bass) in his caravan to Gary Numan's "Music for Chameleons".
- During the investigation, Alan offers the two "inspectressess" a beer (which they decline) and insists that they can't have any "Mini Babybels" as they are for the car when he's driving to Harrogate. Alan makes a fool out of himself several more times, including trying to walk like R2-D2, raising his legs, and "accidentally on purpose" breaking wind (claiming it was "mostly deliberate") right next to the Inland Revenue people. This leads to him having a minor argument with Sonia, which is all seen by the tax people. In order to make things up to her, he takes her to Bono's house (really Blickling Hall), after falsely claiming to be a personal friend of his. Lynn also gets a friend of hers from the Baptist Church to pretend to be Bono, even giving him her mother's cataract glasses to wear in hope that Sonia would be convinced he is Bono.
- Alan is rumbled by Sonia and by way of apology for the deception and for stabbing a giant teddy bear beefeater that Sonia bought him (with a receipt spike; on entering the static caravan, he mistook the bear for a burglar), he grudgingly consents to take her to London.
- 6. "Alan Wide Shut" — The building work on Alan's house is finally complete and Sonia is angling to cohabit. Alan however, has other ideas and tries to "come to some arrangement" with her. He is interviewed on a radio show called Prayer Wave, where his insensitive comments result in one of the guests (Julia Davis) walking out.
- After this, he attends Lynn's baptism at her church where he simulates blowing his head off with a shotgun and assaults one of the guests (Rob Brydon) who questions Alan's anecdote-writing ability.
- Meanwhile, with "The Windmills of Your Mind" playing on the soundtrack, the remaining 14,000 unsold copies of Alan's book, "Bouncing Back," are pulped. Alan takes some away with him in a plastic bag as mementoes.
All the places name-dropped in I'm Alan Partridge are real locations in East Anglia.
Exterior shots of the Linton Travel Tavern were actually filmed at the Hilton Hotel on Elton Way in Watford, Hertfordshire. Spalding is in Lincolnshire; Swaffham is a market town in Norfolk, Spixworth and Hemsby are real Norfolk villages which feature in the show as the home location of phone-in guests. Sprowston, a real village just outside of Norwich, is mentioned in the episode Never Say Alan Again in a conversation with John, Alan's builder.
The (Great) Ouse and the Waveney are major rivers, as referenced in Radio Norwich's ident. Linton really is equidistant between London and Norwich (about 95 km (59 mi) in each direction). Due to the coverage, a number of Norfolk residents are not happy with the association.
A feature length film featuring the character, 'Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa', was released in 2013 to critical acclaim. Coogan once again reprised his role as Partridge, alongside 'I'm Alan Partridge' regulars Felicity Montagu (as Lynn), Simon Greenall (as Michael) and Phil Cornwell (as DJ Dave Clifton).
- I'm Alan Partridge at BBC Online
- I'm Alan Partridge at BBC Programmes
- I'm Alan Partridge at the British Comedy Guide
- I'm Alan Partridge at the Internet Movie Database
- I'm Alan Partridge at TV.com
- Unofficial Linton Travel Tavern website
- Filming locations from I'm Alan Partridge