Aha! The return of Alan Partridge
McNair, Brian (2014) Aha! The return of Alan Partridge. Journalism Practice, 8(1), pp. 110-111.
Throughout a long and occasionally distinguished career first as a television sports correspondent, then chat show host (dramatically ended by the accidental homicide of a guest live on air), then rebirth as a radio presenter at North Norfolk Digital, Alan Partridge has navigated the stormy waters of the British media landscape, now achieving mainstream success on the big screen with a starring role in Steve Coogan’s Alpha Papa (Declan Lowney, 2013). A man who in his desperation for a television series of his own once sank so low as to pitch a show called Monkey Tennis to the BBC finally finds his inner hero in a film which, while presenting mainly as comedy, also contains a biting critique of trends in the British media with which all journalists and media practitioners in general will be familiar. Alpha Papa is a nostalgic, elegiac riff on the pleasures and values of local radio the way it used to be, exemplified by North Norfolk Digital’s stable of flawed, but endearing jocks – Wally Banter, Bruno Brooks, Dave Clifton (who in one scene recounts the depths to which he sank as an alcoholic, drug addicted wreck—“I woke up in a skip with someone else’s underpants in my mouth. I can laugh about it now …”), and Pat Farrell. 50- something Pat is sacked by the new owners of North Norfolk Digital, who in their efforts to transform the station into a “multiplatform content provider” going by the more Gen Yfriendly name of Shape (“the way you want it to be”), wish to replace him with a younger, brattish model lacking in taste and manners. Out go records by the likes of Glen Campbell and Neil Diamond (“You can keep Jesus Christ”, observes Partridge after playing Diamond’s Sweet Caroline in a demonstration of the crackling radio repartee for which he is by now renowned, “that was the king of the Jews”), in comes Roachford. Pat, grieving his dead wife Molly, finally snaps and turns the glitzy media launch of Shape into a hostage siege. Only Alan Partridge, it seems, can step in and talk Pat out of a looming catastrophe.
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