I'm Alan Partridge is a BBC situation comedy. Two series of six episodes were produced, the first in 1997 and the second in 2002. Co-creator Armando Iannucci has expressed doubts about creating a third.
The series followed the titular Alan Partridge, a failed television presenter whose previous exploits had featured in the chat-show parody Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge, and who is now presenting a programme on local radio in Norfolk.
Both series were written by Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham. They starred Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge; Felicity Montagu as his faithful, mouse-like PA, Lynn Benfield; Simon Greenall as Geordie Travel Tavern handyman/BP garage attendant, Michael; and Phil Cornwell as Dave Clifton.
- Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan). The main character of the series. A former chat-show host on BBC television, Alan was dismissed from the BBC partly for punching Chief Commissioning Editor Tony Hayers in the face with a stuffed partridge and partly because his programmes were of a low standard, delivering ever-declining ratings. In series one, he is divorced from his wife Carol, lives in the Linton Travel Tavern and is reduced to working the graveyard shift on Norwich radio and desperately trying to get back on television in any capacity. By series two - following an off-screen mental breakdown - he has pulled himself up slightly, in that he lives in a static caravan next to the dream house he is building, has a radio show in the evening, a military-based quiz show on digital television and has published his autobiography. Alan is a generally loathsome, narcissistic human being with very poor social skills and a largely empty personal life.
- Lynn (played by Felicity Montagu). Alan's hard-working, long-suffering, personal assistant, Lynn appears to run Alan's life to such an extent that he cannot survive without her organisational skills; despite this, he usually treats her with little more than contempt. Besides dealing with Alan's working-life, Lynn's other duties range from the banal to the truly ridiculous; accompanying Alan to visit a show home, buying medicinal powder for Alan's fungal foot infections, cooling Alan with a hand-fan, and frequently listening patiently to Alan's pointless conversations and endless whining. Lynn is a member of a local Baptist Church, which Alan finds strange but is willing to tolerate. Her mother, whom Lynn possibly lives with, is apparently housebound, but Lynn seems able to balance her life between looking after her mother's affairs and those of Alan. When accompanying Alan, Lynn is very shy and nervous in public, but seems capable of easily blending into social situations when Alan is not present. Despite her intense and frequently ludicrous workload, Lynn receives a paltry £8,000 per year, due to Alan's greedy penny-pinching.
- Michael (Simon Greenall). An all-purpose worker at the Linton Travel Tavern, Michael speaks with a heavy Geordie accent, which Alan barely understands (or claims not to) and, being Alan, never fails to demand clarification. Michael is arguably Alan's only friend, and Alan is glad of his presence when he needs to have a heart-to-heart or, more often, inane chat; their friendship is clearly not on an even basis, however, as Michael only ever refers to Alan as 'Mr. Partridge' and Alan clearly regards Michael with a great deal of disdain. Michael is almost as desperate and neurotic a character as Alan, and is very emotionally disturbed (shown most clearly when Alan looks out of his room window to see Michael tearing at his hair in a state of some distress). Michael frequently tells stories of his time in the army, to the delight of Alan, especially if they are of a salacious, or violent nature. During a period of military placement in the Philippines, Michael married a Filipino woman, and the two moved back to Michael's native Newcastle upon Tyne. However, his wife left him and now lives with his brother in Sunderland, possibly shedding light on the origins of Michael's neuroticism. In the last episode, Michael appears at Alan's party already drunk on Scrumpy Jack and proceeds to insult the other guests. He also appears in the second series of "I'm Alan Partridge", where he has left the Linton Travel Tavern and now works in a BP petrol station.
- Dave Clifton (Phil Cornwell). A fellow Radio Norwich DJ. Because his programme begins at the end of Alan's "graveyard slot" show, it is seen (by all concerned) to be of "higher status", a fact which clearly perturbs Alan. During the handover every morning, Alan always engages in witty banter with Dave, but their chatting fails to disguise the bitter rivalry between them, and is only thinly veiled by their jocular chit-chat. Alan usually gets the better of Dave, on one occasion Alan won their daily battle of one-upmanship (by swearing on what was technically Dave's show). Dave is an alcoholic and has a driving ban, according to Alan. Much to Alan's surprise and chagrin, Dave is a friend of Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley. Dave also appears in the second series of "I'm Alan Partridge", where he now works the graveyard shift (after Alan's shift) and appears to have resumed drinking - nevertheless, he still usually manages to get the upper hand in his rivalry with Alan.
Series one only
- Susan (Barbara Durkin). The manager of the Linton Travel Tavern. Susan appears to be a stereotypical front-desk worker, with a dazzling smile and sickly sweet manner, but even these forced skills are not enough to deal with Alan's clumsy, half-hearted flirting and mindless anecdotes. Alan frequently makes tactless comments to Susan about her appearance (once suggesting to her that she "could have been throwing up all night" but that her smile would not falter). In reaction to these comments, Susan's painted-on smile is sometimes momentarily replaced by a look of shock and bemusement. Susan displays a general dislike of Alan, becoming increasingly bored of his feeble attempts at conversation as the series progresses, and at one stage being terrified by Alan's poorly-planned practical joke in which he dresses as a zombie and creeps up on her at reception. Nevertheless, she never says a harsh word to Alan - at least, until the end of the last episode, in which she finally tells Alan what she thinks of him at his going-away party.
- Sophie (Sally Phillips). A recently-employed receptionist at the Travel Tavern, Sophie is also rarely without a smile - however, in her case it is normally due to the fact that she is suppressing a laugh over Alan's antics. While Susan brushes off Alan's social faux pas with a smile, Sophie is rarely able to control her laughter at Alan's appalling lack of social skills, and often has to leave reception to prevent laughing in his face. Much to Alan's annoyance, he is sometimes aware that Sophie often jokes about him behind his back.
- Ben (James Lance). Another member of staff at the Travel Tavern and Sophie's boyfriend. Alan is jealous of Ben's romance with Sophie, and does his best to sabotage their romantic trysts. In later episodes, Alan attempts to forge a friendship with Ben, despite Alan's earlier irritation at Ben's informal and somewhat laid-back manner. Predictably, Alan's attempts to befriend Ben are clumsy and unsuccessful.
Series two only
- Sonja (Amelia Bullmore). Alan's thick-accented Ukrainian girlfriend. Sonja, who is 14 years Alan's junior, possesses a very excitable, scatterbrained personality which leads Alan to describe her as 'mildly cretinous.' Easily amused, she delights greatly in pulling lame practical jokes and showering Alan with cheap (and unwanted) gifts such as London souvenirs and personalized coffee mugs and cushions emblazoned with their faces. She is very devoted to Alan and clearly treasures him, despite the fact that he demonstrates little genuine affection for her in return and clearly bases their relationship solely around the ego-boost produced by their 14-year age difference.
In series one, the former chat show host Partridge has been divorced by his wife, Carol; has distanced himself from his children and ended up living in the Linton
, a cheap motel
equidistant between London
. At this stage of his life, Alan's career consists of broadcasting his own radio programme, "Up with the Partridge"
on the fictional "Radio Norwich"
during dead time (4:30am to 7 am), and occasionally making corporate appearances for various low-profile local businesses. Alan's personal life is shown to be crushingly empty; he has separated from his wife Carol, and his only interaction with other people consists of chatting mindlessly to his personal assistant, Lynn, the staff of the Linton Travel Tavern, and receiving infrequent phone calls from Bill Oddie
Throughout the series, Alan displays his usual sexism, racism, homophobia, and general bigotry to everyone he comes into contact with, and via his radio show broadcasts.
Two unusual plot devices used during the series surround Alan's somewhat neurotic personal life. One consists of glimpses into Alan's mind, depicting a fantasy night-club, which Alan seems to think of often and at the most inappropriate moments. In his club fantasies, Alan is a table dancer, dancing for whichever television authority he aims to please (usually Tony Hayers, but also two Irish TV executives he meets on one occasion). Even in these fantasies, Alan retains his unbearably boring and socially inept persona; he dances in a rubber thong but this is offset by wearing his jumper, shirt and tie in addition to his "erotic" apparel, and in his fantasies, Alan launches into his trademark dull and inane conversations. The second plot device used throughout the series revolves around a drawer in Alan's hotel room. The viewers never see what is in the drawer, but the contents are occasionally glimpsed by other characters; Lynn becomes speechless when seeing the contents, Sophie bursts into a fit of giggling, and Alan himself goes to extreme lengths to keep the drawer closed when people are in the room.
Series one was released on DVD in the United States for the first time on 24 October, 2006.
- Room with an Alan: Alan and Lynn view a show-home, where Alan displays his usual behaviour, and manages to both confuse and bore the estate agent. Later in the day, Alan attends a luncheon at the BBC headquarters with Tony Hayers (played by David Schneider), the fictional programme commissioner of the BBC, about the possibility of a second series of Knowing Me, Knowing You. Apparently unaware of how low his chances really are, he puts the nail in the coffin by desperately offering a range of ridiculous, badly thought-out ideas for new programmes that bore, bewilder, and eventually upset Hayers. When he is told that he is not to be re-commissioned, Alan attacks Tony Hayers with a lump of cheese and flees the restaurant while shouting "I've got cheese, this is cheese!". After a heart-to heart with Lynn, Alan returns to his hotel room, attempts to order an Irish coffee, and gives himself a black eye while attempting an athletic leap from his bed.
- Alan Attraction: Without a second series of his programme, Alan is forced to fire all of the staff at his company, Peartree Productions. However, when the staff ask him if he has a second series, Alan panics, and tells them that he has been successful. While the staff prepare a party, and Jill, his ageing, chain-smoking, divorcee receptionist goes out to buy some snacks, Alan tries to extricate himself by firing staff members for various "offences"; leaving an unwashed coffee cup on the table; rolling eyes, and being a woman. While locked in his boardroom, the staff leave. Jill returns, wondering where everyone has got to (he doesn't tell her) and the two go on a date to a nearby owl sanctuary, where Alan's attempts at conversation bewilder Jill. In the evening, the two attend a Valentine's Day dinner at the Travel Tavern, where Alan makes a fool of himself by singing a song for her with the hired band, and Lynn repeatedly attempts to sabotage Alan's evening with the uncouth Jill. Alan and Jill return to Alan's room, and in one of the most memorable moments of the series, Alan attempts to make love to Jill while providing a running commentary and attempts a discussion of the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre. After Jill's attempts at eroticism leave the room - and Alan - covered in chocolate mousse, Jill leaves and Alan goes to work, where he tells Jill over the radio that she is sacked.
- Watership Alan: After making various unsympathetic comments about farming on his radio show, Alan becomes an object of hatred for local farmers. But he doesn't have time to worry about this as he is more concerned with shooting an advertisement for a small boating-holiday company. In the Travel Tavern's bar, during an initial interview with the video executives, Alan panics and invents the ladyboy drink combination, the effects of which result in him phoning his ex-wife Carol, where he tries to insult her partner's car. On his radio show, Alan interviews the leader of the local Farmers' Union (played by Chris Morris), but instead of apologising, enrages local farmers even further by making increasingly insane comments about farmers. On the day of the video-shoot, Alan attempts to blend in with the hard-drinking crew and again displays his chronic lack of basic social skills. During the shoot, riddled with examples of Alan's pathetic ineptitude, he is crushed by a dead cow thrown from a bridge by local farmers. Alan returns from hospital with a neck brace and broken fingers, and is forced to humiliate himself by phoning reception and asking them to reconnect the satellite receiver on his television which he had previously switched off because the staff discovered he was watching pornography.
- Basic Alan: There are major refurbishments taking place at the Linton Travel Tavern, during which the hotel is closed, leaving Alan as the only guest. Throughout the episode, he is desperately bored and does various things to pass the time, including dismantling a trouser press, walking along a dual-carriageway to a petrol station to buy several bottles of windscreen washer fluid, driving round the ring-road three times, buying some tungsten-tipped screws he never intends to use and dressing up as a zombie in a poorly planned practical joke. His boredom culminates with an incompetent attempt to steal a traffic cone, with Michael and Lynn.
- To Kill a Mocking Alan: Alan hosts "An Afternoon with Alan Partridge" at the Travel Tavern which is attended by his self-confessed "biggest fan", Jed Maxwell. He is also visited by network executives (played by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews) who are considering giving him a show on Irish television. Naturally, they are less than impressed by Alan, though they do get along very well with Lynn. Through a series of mishaps, the three of them end up at Jed's house, where Alan finds out that Jed's fandom is of a somewhat extreme nature.
- Towering Alan: After a depressing afternoon hosting a small village fayre and judging the vegetable competition, Alan is delighted to discover that Tony Hayers has died and his successor, Chris Feather, is a man who had actually always supported, and liked Alan. Attending Hayers' funeral (he knows Feather will be there) he immediately snaps up the opportunity to finally win his sought-after second series, but not before another shock death threatens to throw his dream into tatters.
The series ended with a party in Alan's room as Alan and Lynn tidied up to the theme from The Adventures of Black Beauty, after all the guests have prematurely left. The series ends on a surprisingly upbeat note, with Alan pretty pleased with himself.
By series two, we catch up with Alan five years after he left the Linton Travel Tavern. Despite winning a five-year contract at the end of the first series, bad blood between himself and the BBC forced Alan to leave once again. He himself admits that in the intervening time he'd been "clinically fed up", which culminated in him putting on a lot of weight and driving a Vauxhall Vectra
to Dundee in his bare feet whilst gorging on Toblerones
. By the start of this series, he believes himself to have "bounced back", titling his poorly-selling autobiography "Bouncing Back". As well as his book, he has Radio Norwich's 3rd best slot (his rival from Series 1, Dave Clifton, again follows his show, but this is now a 'graveyard' midnight slot), a military-based game show called Skirmish
on fictional cable TV channel "UK Conquest" and has released a video called "Crash, Bang, Wallop, What a Video!"
Alan now finds himself living in a static caravan outside his partially built dream home. He is flanked by his friend Michael, who has left his job at the travel tavern to become a cashier at a local BP garage (this recalls Alan's odd question in the first episode of the first series to the estate agent, when he asked if there were any petrol stations near the house with minimarts - 'scaled down supermarket, fits inside a petrol station'). Alan now has two women in his life, not only is he still tended to by his personal assistant Lynn but he has a Ukrainian girlfriend, Sonja, played by Amelia Bullmore.
- The Talented Mr Alan: While visiting Michael at the petrol station, Alan has a chance meeting with his old teacher Frank "Sweaty" (or "Cacky") Raphael. Alan convinces Raphael to let him give a talk to the sixth formers at the school where Raphael is now headmaster. Whilst at the school, Alan bumps into an old schoolmate of his who is now a teacher. They try to reminisce over old times, but Alan still holds a grudge against this schoolmate, who once drew a penis on the back of his school blazer in chalk; Frank Raphael had caned Alan for this prank. Later Alan begins his talk to the students which, of course, all goes wrong; and Alan ends up insulting Frank Raphael for caning him when he was younger and also insults his schoolmate for "getting the lab assistant pregnant, and never sees the kid." All of this results in Alan receiving a stern talking-to in the headmaster's office. Towards the end of the episode, the reviled schoolmate comes into the petrol station; Alan, thinking he has come to fight, tries to threaten him with an apple turnover. The schoolmate apologises to Alan and hopes that they can be friends again, but as the schoolmate leaves the petrol station a customer tells him that he has got something on his back: Alan got Lynn to draw a chalk penis on his back. The episode ends with Alan being besieged in the petrol station.
- The Colour Of Alan: Michael comes to stay for a few days after his front door is stolen; Alan is asked to present a sales conference for "Dante's of Reading," a company that supplies coal-effect fires and fireplaces. Dante's Piet Morant (played by Steve Brody), a South African, visits Alan's partially-built house. Whilst Alan buys time, taking Piet for an hour-long pub lunch, Lynn and Michael improvise some make-shift furniture in the empty house: they balance a toilet door on a Black & Decker Workmate for a table and attach several torches to a bicycle wheel for lighting. This fails to impress Piet Morant, who's even less impressed by Alan's attempt at a South African accent. Nevertheless, Alan is awarded the job, but tragedy ensues when Alan tries to climb over a country club's fence and impales his foot on a metal spike. Lynn tells him to stay in hospital but Alan is completely adamant about doing the speech for "Dante's of Reading." Unfortunately, his vomiting and foot pain turn his speech into a disaster.
- Bravealan: Alan makes a new friend at the BP garage, Dan (played by Stephen Mangan). They both like the same beer, use the same deodorant, and drive Lexi ("the plural of Lexus"). Dan owns "Kitchen Planet" and arranges for Alan to present the Colman's Mustard Bravery Awards. Alan's attempts to converse with Karen Colman are hugely unsuccessful; he even admits to her that he had mental health issues. She strikes up an instant rapport with Sonja, however, later inviting her back to her house without Alan. On hearing that the Colmans' family motto is "Too much mustard gets up your nose," Alan tries to impress her by eating a big spoonful. Later, at Dan's home, Alan finds out that Dan and his wife enjoy a deviantly spicy lifestyle; to his great discomfort, they show him a tape of them having intercourse.
- Never Say Alan Again: Alan plans a Bond-athon for the bank holiday weekend with Michael. Lynn reveals to Alan that she has a new friend, Gordon, an ex-policeman who threatens Alan for mistreating Lynn at times. The Bond weekend all goes pear-shaped when Lynn accidentally destroys his Bond movies after spilling Sunny Delight over them. Alan is about to give her the full force of his anger when Gordon stands up next to her: Alan panics, backs down, and gives her a cash raise and tells her not to worry about the videos. When he discovers that Michael has another friend, Tex (played by Peter Serafinowicz), he becomes jealous and falls out with Michael, un-inviting him to the Bond-athon. Alan targets John the builder for his new friend/protector-from-Gordon. After patching things up with Michael, Alan discovers that Tex has taped over the one undamaged Bond film with an episode of "America's Strongest Man." Because of this, he declares himself "Norfolk's Maddest Man" and decides to give the group a physical run-through of the entire opening sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me.
- I Know What Alan Did Last Summer: The Inland Revenue are due to call and carry out a random investigation on Alan's business affairs, causing him to worry. The Inland Revenue people arrive earlier than the set time, catching Alan dancing around in his caravan to Gary Numan's "Music For Chameleons." During the investigation, Alan makes a fool out himself several more times, including trying to walk like R2-D2, raising his legs, and accidentally farting right next to the Inland Revenue people. This leads to him having a minor argument with Sonja, which is all seen by the tax people. In order to make things up to her, he takes her to Bono's house (really Blickling Hall), after falsely claiming to be a personal friend of his; Lynn also gets a friend of hers from the Baptist Church to pretend to be Bono]], even giving him her mother's cataract glasses to wear in hope that Sonja would be convinced he is Bono. Alan is rumbled by Sonja and by way of apology for the deception and for stabbing a giant teddy bear beefeater that Sonja bought him (with a receipt spike; on entering the static caravan, he mistook the bear for a burglar), he grudgingly consents to take her to London.
- Alan Wide Shut: The building work on Alan's house is finally complete and Sonja is angling to cohabit. Alan however, has other ideas and tries to "come to some arrangement" with her. He is interviewed on a radio show called Prayer Wave, where his insensitive comments result in one of the guests (Julia Davis) walking out. After this, he attends Lynn's christening at her church where he simulates blowing his head off with a shotgun and assaults one of the guests (Rob Brydon) who questions Alan's anecdote-writing ability. Meanwhile, with "The Windmills of Your Mind" playing on the soundtrack, the remaining 14,000 unsold copies of Alan's book, "Bouncing Back," are pulped. Alan takes some away with him in a plastic bag as mementoes.
All the places name-dropped in I'm Alan Partridge
are real locations in East Anglia. Linton
are in Cambridgeshire
, though neither has a Travel Tavern
nor a spice museum. Exterior shots of the Linton Travel Tavern were actually filmed at the Hilton Hotel on Elton Way in Watford. Spalding
is in Lincolnshire
is a market town in Norfolk
are real Norfolk villages which feature in the show as the home location of phone in guests, and of course there's the city of Norwich
. The (Great) Ouse and the Waveney are major rivers, as referenced in Radio Norwich's ident. Linton really is equidistant between London and Norwich (about 95 km (60 miles) in each direction). Not all Norfolkers are happy with the association though. Tiptree
is mentioned in Radio Norwich's ident even though it lies in the heart of Essex
. On a similar vein, Felixstowe is also mentioned even though it is in East Suffolk.
Coogan resurrected the character in his stand up shows in 2008
, alongside some of his other old characters, such as Paul Calf
Also, in a recent interview, Coogan confirmed that Partridge would return for either a film or a television special. In May 2008, it was revealed that a film adaptation of I'm Alan Partridge
had been in pre-production "for an age" and that Victoria Beckham
will be replacing Felicity Montagu
as Lynn, as Felicity refuses to participate in a Hollywood Production, therefore assuming that the film is being filmed in America