I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan review
‘Yes, it’s an extender!’. ‘Smell my cheese, you mother’. ‘Ooooooh ladyboys’.
Once, these would’ve been considered strange, random phrases, mere amalgamations of words; but that was BP. Before Partridge. ‘Monkey tennis’, ‘these are sex people’. Indeed, its hard to think of a single comedy character that has done as much to change the British comedy landscape as Alan Gordon Partridge, the brainchild of MMU’s own Steve Coogan.
The complexity of this comedy creation, from his naivety and ignorance to his confidence and awkwardness, plus a stellar cast of supporting characters, has led him to transcend traditional viewership and to instead capture something innate about the national psyche.
Following on from the successful online series ‘Mid-Morning Matters’, Coogan, in collaboration with acclaimed co-writer Armando IannuccI and others, has made Alan’s fictional, pulped autobiography ‘Bouncing Back’ into reality. Unlike the failure of ‘Bouncing Back’, ‘I, Partridge’ is a simply fantastic read. It charts the entirety of Alan’s life, from birth to North Norfolk Digital, with everything in between. Indeed, it’s this attention to detail that assures the reader that the book has been written by people with a knowledge and love of the source material. Minor characters like Steven McCombe, known mainly to those that followed Alan’s radio series, are given a moment in the sun and a chance to flesh out their relation to Alan. On the other hand, famous events in the series, like Alan’s run-in with a stalker, are treated humorously, as our unreliable narrator makes out the altercation to be a bloody battle in Alan’s favour. Somehow, the book seems to reek of Alan’s authorship, from strange acronyms like NES (Nando’s Efficiency System), the settling of scores with old enemies (Tony Hayers) to numerous, anally-retentive footnotes and the bizarre inclusion of a playlist to listen to whilst reading.
An interesting aspect of this book is that whilst most comedy books would cater to something of a niche audience, ‘I, Partridge’ has a broad but inclusive feel to it. You get a real sense of what makes Partridge the brilliant character he is and feel inclined to visit his body of work, I certainly did. So whilst those new to Alan may be confounded by his litigation battle with Glen Ponder, there is enough gut comedy in the photo pages alone to find the book enjoyable. With all that said, at the root of it, this is a celebration of Partridge and one for the fans. Proof alone is in the popularity of @ThisisPartridge, currently standing at over 120,000 followers and the numerous videos of Alan’s book signing online. If there is a negative aspect to the whole affair, perhaps it’s that it brings the future of Partridge into question. Coogan’s popularity abroad appears to be on the increase, as he features in the soon to be released Hollywood feature ‘Our Idiot Brother’. It begs the question as to whether he wishes to remain in the guise of a mid-50’s broadcaster from Norfolk, or head to pastures new. In addition to this, would anyone really want anymore from Alan? Series two of ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ was a notable decline from his previous efforts and whilst ‘Mid-Morning Matters’ was an enjoyable hark back to his radio days, one wonders what there is left for the character to do.
To finish off, if you’re looking for a hilarious book about a very strange Renaissance man from the Midlands, you’ve struck gold. Likewise, if you’re a Partridge obsessive who knows his ABBA medley from his through-draft, then you’re also in luck. Make it a long read, however; who knows when we’ll hear next from the man himself?