If you’re looking to catch up on films you’ve missed this year over the Christmas vac, you can’t do any better than an evening in with Alan Partridge. Ardent Partridge fans approached the film with trepidation upon the release of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (not the most catchy title, but mightily better than the first draft Alan Partridge is in Alpha Papa, though literal, slightly jarring) earlier in the year, and outsiders might have seen Norwich’s finest broadcaster as cult figure, his comedy only accessible for those who have been here for the whole journey from The Day Today, Knowing Me Knowing You, I’m Alan Partridge, and Mid-Morning Matters, not forgetting the host of books and other Alan-themed merchandise. No such fear should be necessary though, since Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is a hilarious British comedy, perfectly pitched, appealing to both die-hard Partridge lovers, but possible for newbies to enjoy just as much.
It essentially is just a massively hyped episode of I’m Alan Partridge, with a notably bigger budget. Alan is forced to be the point of communication in a siege of his local Norfolk radio station, where he works as a mid-morning DJ, and a fellow employee, recently made redundant on his advice by the new corporate bigwigs, has taken control of the building. His fear soon merges with swagger, as he rediscovers nationwide fame for his negotiations, and he’s back into his Alan-like stride.
But to say it’s just a big-budget TV show is doing it a disservice. It certainly is a cinematic experience: the sprawling soundtrack, elaborate set pieces, and long continuous shots give it a big screen feel. Armando Iannucci has previous in the cinema, he won an Oscar for the screenplay for In the Loop, again, a successful television to film translation. The dialogue is snappy, and you have to tune your ear to get all the jokes – in fact you have to watch it at least twice just to make sure you’ve eked out every last hilarious morsel.
There’s so many funny and quotable lines: “Excellent small talk, gentlemen, to business!”, “I’m going to lay down a rhythm track”, and “I think I’ve got a handle on it” are perhaps some of the most memorable. There’s a great cast of British comedy greats, including of course, the old favourites, with Lynn and Geordie Michael. Make sure to spend this Christmas with your favourite Partridge.