3 September 2013 | Lejink
Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge character just wouldn't lie down. After filling the sport slot in Christopher Morris's brilliant TV news show spoof "The Day Today", Coogan and his co-writers devised this devilishly funny and close-to-the-bone mickey-take of the ever-popular celebrity chat programme, with all the accoutrements of real-life prototypes by the likes of real-life stereotypical hosts (we know who they are) complete with guest house-band, fake starry guests and all their other familiar trappings (mix and match guests, the shared couch, the shallow content).
Coogan in particular rips into the title character with relish, a gormless, ignorant, sexist, bigoted, power-crazy narcissist who says what he thinks before he even thinks it. To play his guests, stock supporting actors like Rebecca Front, David Schneider and Patrick Marber change clothes and personalities from show to show, but somehow always end up as the unwilling victims of Partridge's prejudices.
All of the shows in the series are big on laughs, my favourite characters being the dead-on-his-feet ventriloquist act Cheeky Monkey, the cringe-worthy "Knowing Another Alan Partridge" section involving a recently deceased namesake and of course his quite literally go-out-with-a-bang climax.
Once you settle down to watch it, so convincingly played are the characters that you actually do end up thinking it could somehow be for real on an obscure satellite channel, although after the final bombshell which ends each episode, you snap out if it but realise how close to the truth it actually was.
For Coogan the character has never gone away, spawning the brilliant "I'm Alan Partridge" sequel and most recently a movie incarnation "Alan Partridge Alpha Papa", which I've not yet seen but it will be hard-pressed to beat the plentiful laughs on show here.