Anglian Lives: Alan Partridge (2003)

Available to view on BFI Mediatheque.

Long before Ricky Gervais brought David Brent to life in ‘The Office’, Steve Coogan had already created a similar toe-curlingly embarrassing character in the one and only Alan Partridge. This ‘mockumentary’ looks back at the life and times of Radio Norwich’s most famous DJ.

The humour comes about because this is a man in the public eye with radio and TV shows and yet he has no people skills at all. Witness the clip of him during his radio show where he gets exasperated with the stupidity of his callers. Guests in the studio fare no better as he loses his patience with them as well. One lady brings a kestrel into the studio for a talk on birds of prey and even the bell ringing on the bird’s foot annoys him.

Partridge’s ego is rampant. When asked “Have you ever stolen anything?” by an interviewer’s low-tech computer sidekick, ‘Digital Dave’, he replies without a trace of irony, “Only other people’s thunder and the limelight from Sue Lawley.”

When he had a fall from grace, he didn’t succumb to drinks and drugs like most celebrities. Instead, he had a fatal addiction to…. Toblerone. He piled on the pounds but beat his addiction to make a comeback (of sorts).

Looking back to Comic Relief in 1999, he puts Bryan Ferry on the spot by asking him to make a donation. As Ferry writes his cheque out, Partridge says he won’t embarrass him by mentioning how much it is for but “suffice to say, it will buy you two microwave ovens or three and a half Dyson vacuum cleaners.”

Still, you can’t help but love a man whose three rules of life are:-

  1. Have a cup of coffee in the morning.
  2. Don’t trust anyone.
  3. Floss.

That’s how I plan to live my life from now on.    

Steve Haley talks about BFI Mediatheque – click here to listen to Steve Haley talk more about the BFI Mediathque which is located within the Archives in Discovery Museum.

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