Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa

Certificate 15, 90 minutes ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Starring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Simon Greenall, Anna Maxwell Martin, Felicity Montagu, Tim Key, Nigel Lindsay, Sean pertwee

Steve Coogan’s bumbling two-faced cringe-worthy character, TV/Radio presenter Alan partridge first appeared on Radio 4 more than 20 years ago. This quickly led to regular spots on TV and eventually his own TV show, and massive popularity for Coogan.

TV comedies don’t always translate well into big screen movies, and so it was with a little trepidation that I started to watch Alpha Papa. But unlike with the rather poor The World’s End a few weeks ago, I needn’t have worried. Failed TV presenter, Alan Partridge, played by Steve Coogan is a presenter on North Norfolk Radio. When the station is taken over by big business, Partridge discovers that either himself or fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) is for the chop. Partridge’s answer: Just Sack Pat. Farrell’s response is – naturally – to grab a shotgun and take everyone hostage. Unlikely as it seems, Partridge is then called in to be the hostage negotiator.

Colm Meaney is the perfect straight man foil to Coogan and the film switches seamlessly between tense action and comedy beats. And all this is being broadcast live on the radio, complete with the usual inane phone-in questions (“what is the worst kind of monger – fish, rumour, iron or war?”). Even the inevitable car chase (actually a slow-moving OB truck followed by about 50 police cars in full blues and twos) leading to a classic shoot out on the end of Cromer pier.

I must also mention Tim Key, who plays Alan partridge’s studio assistant, Simon. He spends much of the film wrapped in duct tape, including a strange saucepan-like helmet with a built-in “shotgun rest – so I can keep the gun aimed directly at his head without having to keep holding it all the time.” — There’s a use for duct tape that I’ll bet you didn’t see on Mythbusters!

So. Verdict. As a comedy-thriller, Alpha papa works very well. I liked that they kept it local and weren’t tempted to send Partridge overseas to “open it up for the international audience” (ugh!). The mix between action and comedy is well handled. The cast do an outstanding job, right down to the guys in the background with only a line or two. There are some outstanding moments (early on, Coogan simply driving to work in his “company” car, mouthing along to Roachford’s Cuddly Toy). There are just enough gaps between the laughs to stop you actually exploding (although in the screening I went to, it was a close thing with some of the audience), but even so, my cheeks actually ached at the end of the movie.

I am Siege Face. 8/10

Go/No Go rating: GO