To fully understand the popularity of Alan Partridge, you probably need to make a journey to the heart of the British psyche, a land of self-deprecation and embarrassment where the only true hero is a flawed one and success breeds contempt. But Alan Partridge is more than flawed, heâs an offensive, brash idiot; the sort of man whose most mundane thoughts could start a fight in an empty room, but leave him completely confused as to why. Compare him to Will Ferrellâs Ron Burgundy in Anchorman â who is just as ignorant, just as narcissistic, but much more successful â and this is where Partridge differs from most characters: heâs a complete loser.
Almost from his first TV appearance as the inept sports reporter on The Day Today, his career has been in decline and now heâs hosting Alan Partridgeâs Mid Morning Matters on North Norfolk Digital radio. If youâre not an internet-junkie, or familiar with TV shows online, then the return of Alan Partridge in this series of webisodes may have escaped your attention. But the foot-in-mouth radio presenter has returned, and heâs lost none of the bite that made such a popular character in the first place.
Mid Morning Matters is a series of 12 mini-episodes âall available now – and each around 11 minutes long. They feature a small portion of Alanâs new show including interviews, phone-ins and presenting, all of which the host manages to turn into an appalling farce, whether itâs by cutting across a guest who comes in to talk about a childrenâs cycling initiative â âEver met a child the size of an ox? I say that because I once met a man the size of an ox but with the mind of a childâ â or introducing the next song â âKeep your clubs away from his young; itâs Seal.â
As well as classic Partridge lines, we meet a new character, Sidekick Simon, a man Partridge met in a bar, found hilarious and invited him on his show. As you would imagine with a person endorsed by Partridge, Simon is anything but a comedy genius. The banter between the two is typically excruciating, punctuated by awkward silences and always going that bit too far, take for example this discussion about one of Partridgeâs favourites, Anthea Turner:
Partridge: âWhat man doesnât like Anthea Turner? No, seriously, what man?
Sidekick Simon: âStevie Wonder?â?
[Lots of Laughter]
Partridge: âOr Ray Charlesâ?
Sidekick Simon: âAny blind manâ?
This is the sort of show that Steve Coogan and Armando Ianucci have made their careers from, not necessarily full of jokes that make you laugh out loud, but smart comedy that makes you chuckle and wince in equal measure. In fact, the new show is by far the funniest that Alan Partridge has been since the first series of Iâm Alan Partridge in 1997, and is a return to the dry humour that made the show such a hit. Find it on either the Fosters channel on YouTube, or their own website.
In the mean time, here is the first episode to whet your appetite: