A few minutes in and alongside the fancy credits the ninny from Norwich is belting out Roachford’s Cuddly Toy with passion and sass, while keeping his eye on the road and taking advantage of the instrumental break to warn another driver about his fog lights.

It’s the big screen so he’s a bit more showy and best enjoyed with a Magnum not a Nesquik. We’ve seen the trailer and are expecting a bit o’ Bond, a bit o’ Bourne and textbook Alan Partridge.

Pretty soon after some outrageous two-faced scuppering by Alan and it’s Dog Day Afternoon at North Norfolk Digital. Ageing DJ Pat Kearney (the brilliant Colm Meaney) has had a meltdown after losing his job (because of Alan, though he doesn’t know it). At the re-branding party for NND (Shape – The way you want it to be), he takes the employees hostage with a shotgun.

Believing that he and Alan have a mutual respect, and that Alan is on his side, he asks for him as his negotiator. Alan is slightly guilty and bemused by Pat’s trust and admiration – he’d only had a couple of meals with the guy and even then he didn’t have a starter. However, since he has played the role of the cool cucumber when the police have asked for his help, he moseys on in there , shit-scared and a fish out of water, until he realises how much this serves his own vain interests. This is not going to sit well with his PA, Lynne, is it?

Although Lynne is enjoying being well looked after and having a makeover for interviews, she is not happy about the spoilt Faustian media sell-out (to the listeners of Norwich and local news) Alan is becoming at the expense of the hostages. The film builds, not to a crescendo more of a ‘how would an action film turn out if Partridge diluted its potential’. The film is so funny I had to curtail my laughter so I didn’t miss the next joke.

The team responsible for Partridge have devised the perfect idea for a big screen version, a plot where there is no way Alan can pull off being a superstar. Let’s face it, he won’t come crashing over a motorway bridge in a two ton truck held at gun point by a madman. No, he’ll be waving pope-like from a road show lorry, all the while getting on great guns with his captor and sticking it to the man with responsible daytime radio banter.

In many ways this film could be a taster menu to attract a wider audience for the Partridge back catalogue. And that’s a really good thing. The people who benefit the most are those who get a good laugh out of it.

Manchester has ownership of Steve Coogan so you can imagine what the atmosphere was like at Cornerhouse last night. I expect there were people in the audience who know Steve or the Coogans. Apparently the idea for his last film, The Look of Love, was conceived in the bar. He’s from Middleton. I knew his brother. Everyone will have some connection because it’s Manchester and everyone knows someone or knows someone who knows someone. It’ll feel like this for the whole run. And everyone here loves Alan Partridge don’t they? Apart from my Mum. She likes Roy Chubby Brown.

Review by Cathy Crabb


What: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Where: Cornerhouse, Oxford Road, Manchester and at cinemas across the North of England

When: at Cornerhouse until August 15, 2013

More infowww.cornerhouse.org/film/cinema-listings/alan-partridge-alpha-papawww.imdb.com/title/tt0469021/