This Time With Alan Partridge received a slightly mixed response when it aired but I was a huge fan, for me since Neil and Rob Gibbons have joined Steve Coogan and begun co-writing the character it has been Alan at his very best – or right up with the very best, anyhow, with it being as strong as the first series of I’m Alan Partridge. Thankfully he’s due to return to our screens with another tv series written by all three soon, but before that we’ve been given his first ever podcast.
Opening with an explanation as to what the series will be like, and how this is a sample of the series, a free first episode that’s being released before the rest descends upon us in September, the opening five minutes is a little shaky. There’s a great, perfectly in character comment about the importance of key workers which is followed by a suggestion that broadcasters however shouldn’t stay out of the lime light for too long, but when the episode starts a proper and Alan talks about his love for nature and gets distracted many a time it’s fine but fails to contain anything that’ll make you laugh out loud.
Once the concept for this episode of the podcast has been set up it starts becoming very funny though, and then only gets better and better as it continues. Supposedly because Alan loves nature so much this initial episode sees him out and about in it, though it’s also “because a chap from Rentakill is fumigating the house to kill some mice”, which was the first line to generate a big laugh. As you might expect from a man who loves the sound of his own voice in the way Alan does, though there’s occasional insights in to what he feels about the main topic most of the time he digresses and begins rambling about all manner of things, including his disdain for cyclists and various film ideas including Gethsemane with Liam Neeson, and a movie about Bruce Willis helping a woman who someone tried to rape, the latter being the only misguided moment of the show as it just doesn’t really go anywhere and isn’t that amusing.
Much funnier is when he starts wondering about a rather despondent guy in a pub and the idea that though you might say “Cheer up, it might never happen?” to him, what if it already has, what if his wife died suddenly one Christmas? Or he had to smother a dog in the Falklands who was going to give away his location? These oddball interjections give us a hilarious insight in to how Partridge’s bizarre mind works, and show why The Gibbons Brothers are so good at writing the character too as they capture his outlandish imagination so perfectly.
Some moo-ing follows, as Alan claims it’s the best way to summon cows, and a truly bad poem is read out which ends with one of the worst puns of all time, albeit a very funny one, before the episode comes to a close with Alan stumbling upon someone’s house and after spying through the windows he begins to consider what the inhabitants of the house might be like. Guessing that a divorced man must live there, when he spots three Jilly Cooper books he suggests “No wonder she left him. I imagine she was quite demanding, why can’t you whisk me off my feet at a polo tournament” in a beautifully if amusing manner, which once again highlights Alan’s all round pettiness and his issues with the female of the species.
It’s a shame the opening is slightly patchy, and those first five minutes did make me worry that this might not be Partridge at his best, but it is exactly that from that point on. Free from the format of any of the tv series it allows him to chat away about any subject he so chooses, so it’s most similar to the two books and Mid-Morning Matters, and this is prime Partridge, perhaps the character at his most meandering but also at his funniest.