Over the last year or so there has been (if yet somewhat cult) campaign to make a film of the BBC comedy character Alan Partridge, a former television host turned radio DJ from Norfolk, England. The character very much ‘’set-off’’ the career of one Steve Coogan. With the campaign being successful comes ‘ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA’, a film funded by BBC Films and the BFI with StudioCanal handling UK distribution.
The thing which occurs straight away with this film, is the fact that compared to other comedy’s which have made their big screen debut, there isn’t a need to take the character abroad (see: ‘The Inbetweener’s Movie’, ‘Borat’ and ‘Bean. The Ultimate Disaster Movie’), but instead have a story focused in the UK. Set in Norfolk it sees’s one of Alan Partridge’s work colleagues Pat Farrell (Colin Meaney) get fired by the new company running the radio of Shape (or as its radio jingle says “Shape – The Way You Want It To be”), ending up staging a siege and Alan going in to stop it. The thing which really shines with this premise is the fact it captures local radio perfectly. Everything from the radio jingles (“Mid Morning Matter’s with Alan Partridge: Music and Chat for the Norfolk Generation”) to the phone-in’s (“If you lost your sense of smell, what smell would you miss most?”) are beautifully contextualised, and is something the film makers should be applauded for. There is also a wonderful soundtrack (the gag with Roachford’s Cuddly Toy, will go down as one of the highlights of this year’s comedy) and some great (almost screen stealing) stuff from Tim Key as Partridge’s Sidekick Simon radio co-host.
Fans of the series will love this, as it will create new comedy moments for the character, but for non-fans, I can imagine the middle does get dull, and maybe shows that the comedy characters are better sticking to the small screen, to which they were, wrote to be on then a feature length movie. And it is a little silly. Generally though it is well made stuff, and any American readers, if you see this on its release of February next year, please let us know how it is received by the audiences over there, by leaving a comment below!