The story is simple. North Norfolk Digital is bought out by a corporation who rebrand the station – Shape – and want to refresh the roster of DJs. Partridge, fuelled by fears of time-served Irish DJ Pat Farrell (Colin Meaney) and the keen eye he has for one of the producers at the station, Angela (Monica Dolan) storms into a business meeting to announce no one should sack Farrell. Part way through his bungled attempt he realises it’s him or Farrell. He quickly changes his tune and tells them to sack Pat.
At the re-launch party an alcoholic ex of Partridge’s turns up and while he escorts her to her car Farrell spoils the fun by taking everyone hostage. He won’t negotiate directly with police – only through Partridge. And so begins a 24 hour siege, the imitable rise of Partridge the reluctant hero and the inevitable fall as his ego gets the better of him.
There are five writing credits. Partridge stalwarts: Rob and Neil Gibbons and Peter Baynham. Plus, Coogan and Armando Iannucci, who created Partridge back in the nineties. This absolute solid base of understanding about who Partridge is and what he would do and how he would react in any situation is what keeps the comedy at levels comparable with anything you’ve seen him do on TV. An early funny moment is between Partridge and Sidekick Simon during their Mid-morning matters segment. Simon reads out a text which suggests the answer to problems in the Middle East is simple – merge Judaism and Islam. Partridge nods his agreement, but then Simon quips you could call it Jislam. This sends Partridge into a flap. He tells Simon you can only make jokes about Christianity and a bit about the Jews. Whereas later, and sticking to the religious theme, a Neil Diamond tunes fades out and Partridge calls him King of the Jews. It’s the comedy equivalent of Les Dawson’s off key piano performances. In so much that Partridge’s bum note lines are tinged with every effort to get things right and be politically correct, but he thinks too hard and out of his mouth flies perfect imperfection and consequently comedy gold.
Alpha Papa is brilliant. Steve Coogan is faultless. Alan Partridge is a national treasure.
Originally published at http://www.britflicks.com/review.aspx?filmid=489