Iâve always had Alan Patridge pegged as a dead ringer for the old-school Radio 1 DJ Simon Bates. Now a presenter for Smooth FM, Bates has a penchant for the floaty, inoffensive sounds of The Lighthouse Family and engaging in tedious politically incorrect rants â all spewed, of course, in his absurd trademark radio voice.
The similarity in Alanâs latest outing, Welcome to the Places of My Life, is even stronger than itâs been in previous programmes. Somehow he seems a little different: more over the top and angrier.
In one scene we see him arguing that lollypop ladies should be stripped of their services, explaining that only the military and traffic lights should command such power over the roads.
Itâs pure Bates, although Alan insists that his style of ranting is uniquely his.
âSting described it as âconversationalâ,â? he says at the start of the programme, âbut Ross Kemp nailed it when he said it was equidistant between chit-chat and analysis.â?
From the headquarters of North Norfolk Digital, Alan is about to embark on something he calls âa pilgrimartridgeâ? or âa partrimiligrimageâ?: a journey around the places that have defined him over the years.
First he goes to Riverside Leisure Centre, a building with a controversial sloped roof. There he struggles to conduct an interview in the swimming pool and shows us his attempt at butterfly stroke, which he admits might look ridiculous to people who donât know anything about swimming.
After a stop off at his favourite Islamic newsagents, Alan then tries his hand at selling fruit at a stall in the local market, where another influence behind his character presents itself. Dismissing the job as âmenial workâ?, Partridge breaks into a fantastically sinister Alistair Stewart-style exposÃ© into a fruit stall owner, who he claims is âliving on the very fringes of societyâ?.
The camera zooms into the manâs face as Alan ponders where the man would be without his fruit business: âSelling stolen Teletubbies filled with soiled tampons?â?
We also see Alan test drive a new Land Rover, which he insist isnât featured in the programme so the Land Rover give him a free one. Itâs during these scenes where we find out what this somewhat angrier Alan does to chill out.
After a call from Lynn (who isnât seen by the way), he lets of steam by taking the Land Rover off road in his friend Peteâs field, where he repeatedly does doughnuts to Chumbawambaâs Tubthumpingâ.
All of this is hilarious, as youâd rightly expect from Partridge, although, as I mentioned above, I canât help thinking that thereâs just something different aboutthe self-proclaimed âhomo-scepticâ?. Heâs not quite the same character from Iâm Alan Partridge â or even Mid-Morning Matters. Perhaps, as heâs aging, heâs becoming angrier, more like Simon Bates?
With that said, itâs still an essential hour of comedy for Partridge fans, packed full of very quotable Partridgisms.