Review of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa following premiere screening in Norwich

The Alan Partridge film premier at the Hollywood Cinema where fans and the press turned out in force to welcome the star...

The Alan Partridge film premier at the Hollywood Cinema where fans and the press turned out in force to welcome the star of the film who pleased the crowds with his stylish suit and Partridge panache. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Assistant editor and Alan Partridge fan David Powles was one of the lucky few to attend today's premiere. Here's his verdict.

The Alan Partridge film premier at the Hollywood Cinema where fans and the press turned out in force

The Alan Partridge film premier at the Hollywood Cinema where fans and the press turned out in force to welcome the star.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

'Which is the worst monger? Fish, rumour, iron or war?'

So asks Alan Partridge to his radio listeners a minute into the world premiere of Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which was screened to around 400 people at Norwich's Hollywood Cinema at lunchtime today.

And in that instant of Partridge-esque obscurity fans of the show can pretty much rest easy in the fact they will love the screen version as much as they do the television one.

And so it proves for the next 90 minutes or so as main man Steve Coogan (playing Partridge) repeatedly trots out the type of one-liners his fans are all too used to sharing with each at probably an all too regular basis.


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But for this film to be warranted a success it will need to appeal to more than just disciples of the show (and those from Norfolk enjoying the sight of some of our favourite landscapes on the big screen and hearing the DJ refer to Sprowston, Thetford, Diss et al).

In short it needs to work in its own right - and even though I'm massive fan I'm delighted to say it does.

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Without giving too much away, the plot centres upon the goings-on of North Norfolk Digital, where Alan is now a presenter following a failed television career.

The station is going through a revamp, after being taken over, and is in the process of being renamed Shape.

This leaves Alan and fellow DJ Pat Farrell (the fantastic Colm Meaney) facing the chop and when it turns out to be Farrell (following some classic coniving by his counterpart), the angry Irish DJ flips, grabs a gun and takes several hostages at the station.

And the only person he'll deal with of course is Alan.

What then follows is scene after scene of brilliant British comedy as the siege unfolds. It quickly moves from the radio station, to outside The Forum in Norwich (the start of a laugh out loud low-speed car chase, then into Sheringham before coming to a dramatic (and at times surprisingly moving) conclusion on Cromer Pier.

My favourite moment comes when Alan is sent out to talk to the police around the siege. 'Identify yourself, identify yourself,' they shout.

'I'm Alan Partridge,' he responds 'I've not been off the television that long.'

For at least an hour of the film I've got a stitch through constant laughter.

I'd put Alpha Papa up there with some of the best British comedies in recent years. Think Hot Fuzz but with more subtlety and easily as many laughs.

And like the best comedy films it even comes tinged with a bit of melancholy and a hint of sadness to really make you warm to the characters.

Focusing the plot on the popular and reliable (but unfashionable) old timers being replaced by 'hip' young things is an absolute masterstroke and will chime with many.

The supporting cast all do their bit to add to the comedy, my personal favourite being Alan's ever-reliable assistant Lynn (Felicity Montagu).

But clearly the star of the show is Alan himself, who raises the majority of the laughs - which come often.

As a Partridge fan I loved this film, as a Norfolk man I'm proud we've been so heavily involved.

For more reviews, pictures and reaction from the premiere see tomorrow's paper special.

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