Monday, 12 August 2013

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, dir. Declan Lowney, wr. Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons, Armando Iannucci, st. Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell Martin, Nigel Lindsay Felicity Montagu Simon Greenall Phil Cornwell Tim Key

It's been 22 years since Coogan's Partridge first appeared on the BBC's On The Hour. More radio followed, then a stint on Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris' The Day Today, before moving onto what many Partridgians consider to be Alan's apex - the chat show Knowing Me, Knowing You and the travel lodge-set I'm Alan Partidge. Talk of a big-screen outing for Alan has been on the cards for some while - an Al Qaeda-plotted feature was touted, then dropped in light of the 7/7 London bombings, though I suspect much time has been taken up thinking if a 90-minute Alan Partridge film was a good idea in the first place. Alpa Papa, however, manages - by a bear's headth - to navigate the rocky shores of disappointment and proves a credible addition to Coogan's Alan canon. The problem is placing Alan Partridge on the back-foot; the character is undoubtedly at his best when allowed free reign to grandstand on his own terms, manifesting his own podiums and pitfalls - in front of a light entertainment audience, in the bedroom of a Linton Travel Tavern or static home, ruling the airwaves in a sound-booth in North Norfolk Digital (as in the wonderful Mid Morning Matters Fosters shorts). Upscaling the narrative to a siege-situation action-aspirationed blockbuster never quite works for the character. That is, of course, precisely the point of the film: "How does Alan fare in the larger world?" Alpha Papa isn't the Gervaisian laurel-resting we feared, nor does it warrant a second feature film, but a colon-rippingly funny title sequence cut to Roachford's Cuddly Toy aside, is an adequate big-screen outing for the Alan we know and love.