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EDITIONS
Monday, 11 November, 2002, 17:33 GMT
Partridge goes pear-shaped
Alan Partridge
Partridge returns after a five-year absence

He waited too long.

It has been five years since Steve Coogan last brought out Alan Partridge, the most successful character from BBC Radio 4's On the Hour, and this new series ought to be the highlight of BBC Two this winter.

The show has certainly been much anticipated but perhaps we built up our hopes too much - the opening episode of the new run just does not work.

Desperation

There are many, many moments that are good: his desperation for success, his aching self-delusion, all of that is back and very well done but there is some spark missing.

Or perhaps it is just that in the five years since we last saw Steve Coogan as Alan, his style of humour has been taken up and arguably even superseded by others.

Alan Partridge
The opening episode seems quite aimless
The original I'm Alan Partridge would make you wince and squirm more than it did laugh: it was extraordinarily funny but also exceptionally painful.

It was not a new vein of comedy - Fawlty Towers made you feel as much for Basil Fawlty as this did for Alan Partridge - but Alan ignited a new trend toward it.

The most obvious example in the UK is BBC Two's The Office with Ricky Gervais as David Brent, again a deluded talent-free man.

In the US, there is Curb Your Enthusiasm, a laconic part-improvised sitcom that sees star Larry David as himself, running into increasingly farcical and squirming situations.

Character

Both have developed this style of embarrassment comedy but they have also both learned that you need a driving force behind each edition.

Despite being a character comedy rather than just a situation one, The Office's best episodes come when the theme and the plot are strong: the staff's annual appraisals or the Children In Need charity drive.

The Talented Mr Alan, the first episode of this new I'm Alan Partridge, does not have that: it is a somehow aimless opening piece.

It does have a lot to catch up on though - it has to re-introduce the characters and cover what has happened in those five years since the last run - so perhaps later editions will improve.

I'm Alan Partridge is on BBC Two on Monday nights at 2200 GMT.

See also:

23 Sep 01 | Entertainment
09 Aug 01 | Entertainment
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