Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa


He's not just a face for radio

Alan Partridge has been a leading light of British character comedy for more than two decades, so a big-screen jaunt was inevitable. After all these years, it may have been less a case of creative urgency than a gap in the filmmakers’ crowded diaries that spurred it into motion. But who cares when the results are this entertaining?

Steve Coogan is as magical as ever as small-minded but weirdly loveable Norfolk DJ Partridge, firing off one-liners worthy of the character’s other greatest hits (from The Day Today to Mid Morning Matters). The role fits him like a particularly fine pair of driving gloves, and there’s a palpable sense of joy in seeing a character who’s tackled every other medium, from online to printed page, appear on his largest canvas yet.

Sure, Alpha Papa isn’t perfect; it hits a stumbling block typical of Brit-coms derived from the small screen, being more a series of skits tied to a crisis (in this case, a siege led by Colm Meaney’s disgruntled DJ Pat) rather than a coherent narrative.

Meaney is a formidable antagonist, but this is Coogan’s show, and he knows it. You don’t create a character that will probably be on your tombstone without knowing exactly what you’re doing; and such is the finesse and – after all this time – freshness of his performance that all criticisms go under the carpet.

Extras run to a multitude of deleted scenes it was a pity to ditch from the main event – they give almost every sequence more room to breathe, and a lot of decent lines were lost to the cutting room floor. Stronger still is an unusually thorough Making Of, which stresses the lengths to which Coogan went to perfect every Partridge-ism.

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