Revealed: Why Norwich beat Milton Keynes to become the home of Alan Partridge

PUBLISHED: 13:42 28 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:04 28 December 2017

Alan Partridge. Pic: Baby Cow/Martin Thompson

Alan Partridge. Pic: Baby Cow/Martin Thompson

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For good or for bad, he's become synonymous with the city of Norwich - but it has been revealed that Alan Partridge almost hailed from Milton Keynes.

The origins of Steve Coogan’s Pringle and Abba-loving fictional radio and television presenter were explored in a new BBC documentary called Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom?

And his creators revealed how they settled on Partridge being from Norwich because the city offered a “blank canvas” which they could “pour plenty of prejudices into”.

Producer and co-creator Armando Iannucci, explained, when they were deciding on the character’s background: “Instantly, we knew that he lived a little bit too far away from London for his convenience.”

And actor David Schneider added: “That touched on Milton Keynes as a possibility and then rushed beyond it, because Milton Keynes was too obvious, it was like the first stop on the comedy station and you had to stay on and go further.

“And then the agreement that Norwich was an appropriate place, because it was like a blank canvas that didn’t have any prejudices, so we could pour plenty of prejudices into it.”

Norwich has had a love/hate relationship with the character over the years.

In 2002, Norwich city councillor Andy Pearmain blamed the portrayal of Norwich in Partridge’s television programmes for it being left off the 2008 City of Culture shortlist.

And Norfolk County Council’s Charles Joyce said in the same year that the county was being turned into a laughing stock, with “the county portrayed as a backwater populated by yokels”.

However, attitudes towards the character has thawed since.

Parts of the 2013 feature film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa were shot in Norwich and Cromer.

Steve Coogan appeared in character at Anglia Square’s Hollywood Cinema for the film’s premiere, while he has done book signings in the city.

There have even been walking tours of city locations connected to the character.

Alan Partridge is due to be back on the BBC next year, with Steve Coogan saying Brexit will loom large in his return.

• Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom? is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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