Series: I'm Alan Partridge
'"... Monkey Tennis?"
1997-2002 Brit Com
starring Steve Coogan
as Alan Partridge, a failed chat show host and candidate for the most Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
of all time. An utterly loathsome, pathologically narcissistic and self-absorbed failure of a human being with a permanent sneer, an entire wardrobe of Pringle jumpers and an unhealthy fascination with 'ladyboys', Partridge, after a failed chat show in which he failed to get an appearance from Roger Moore
, shot a guest dead, and punched his BBC boss with a turkey (Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge
), is reduced to the graveyard shift on local radio and living in a motel after being kicked out by his wife. The series took a close look at Partridge's life (such as it was) and his increasingly desperate attempts to get back on television. A second series was broadcast in 2002, which showed Partridge — following an off-screen nervous breakdown — as slightly more successful and a lot more smug. Other important characters include:
- Lynn: Alan's mousy personal assistant-slash-doormat, who organizes his life to such an extent that he can't survive without her, but whom he nevertheless treats with thoughtless contempt.
- Michael: Alan's only friend — a emotionally tortured and desperate ex-soldier who is, possibly, even more of a loser than Alan is.
- Sonja (season 2 only): Alan's Ukrainian girlfriend, who even he describes as "mildly cretinous". But she is 14 years younger than him — back of the net!
This is the role for which Steve Coogan will forever be remembered, and rightly so; one of the best British sitcoms ever made. Came forty-second in Britain's Best Sitcom
This show provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Bi: Alan is this, based on his bizarre daydreams in the first series which all involve dancing for men, his attitude toward Michael in the second series, and his obsession with 'ladyboys'. It arguably leans closer to Ambiguously Gay, if not for his relationship with Sonja in the second series, his flirting with Susan and his lusting for receptionist Jill, both in the first series.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Potentially the Bangkok Chickboys.
- Bigger Is Better: A significant part of why Alan won't drive a Mini Metro, even though Lynn points out it would make more sense for him to do so if he wants to keep his company, Pear Tree Productions, in business.
- Big Word Shout: "DAN!"
- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: "SMELL MY CHEESE, YOU MOTHER!"
- Break the Cutie: Sweet and smiling hotel receptionist Susan on the night before Alan checks out:
IíLL TELL YOU WHAT MY PROBLEM IS! HAVING TO LISTEN TO YOUR CRAP FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS! YOU'VE BEEN IN THIS HOTEL FOR A HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-TWO DAYS, YOU LITTLE SHIT!
- Brick Joke: In the first season, Alan speaks to his ex-wife's new boyfriend (a fitness instructor) about switching on the immersion heater to get a deep bath. In the second, one of Alan's radio segments is called Alan's Deep Bath.
- The 'pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre' is brought up several times across the first season to often awkward effect.
- In Episode 1 of the first season, Tony Hayers introduces Alan to Peter Linehan during their lunch, who is revamping the BBC's News and Current Affairs department - Alan gives a blithe, uncaring shrug. Cut to Episode 6 of the first season and Tony Hayers' funeral; Chris Feathers, having taken over Hayers' job, introduces Alan to Linehan again, citing him as 'having just revamped our News and Current Affairs'. Alan's reaction is entirely the same, despite him actually joking and trying to cajole Tony Hayers into giving him a second series.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Alan finds this trope pretty funny, Michael less so, and John the builder even less so.
- British Brevity: Only 12 episodes were made.
- Although in a subversion of this, the character has been carried across several series, including The Day Today and Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge, the latter of which serves as a direct lead into this series. Alan has since appeared in various specials, produced an actual version of the 'Bouncing Back' book from series two with I: Partridge, and made a film debut with Alpha Papa, all of which have created a surprisingly cohesive continuity for the character.
- Bully Hunter: In the last episode of series two, Lynn introduces Alan to her friend, a retired policeman who attends her church, who reveals that he's heard all about Alan — and has managed to piece together exactly what sort of a man he is, informing him in no uncertain terms that if he doesn't stop bullying Lynn and treating her like a doormat he'll get what's coming to him. Alan is sufficiently intimidated to start by raising her salary.
- Celebrity Lie: Alan claims to know Bono. He is not saved by the actual Bono.
- Couch Gag: After the Title Sequence, there's always a brief clip of Alan saying something uninteresting.
- Country Matters: A couple of examples from, fittingly enough, the angry farmers who take over Alan's phone-in.
- Cringe Comedy: Plentiful, but the crowning example has to be Alan's disastrous hosting gig in "The Colour of Alan."
Alan: ...I'm going to be sick again. [prolonged retching]
- Critical Research Failure: In-universe example; When Alan is screeching about The Spy Who Loved Me having been taped over, he declares that he wanted "to see Roger Moore necking with Fiona Fullerton!" - which actually happens in A View to a Kill. Curious, given Alan is a huge fan of James Bond and Roger Moore in particular.
- Curse Cut Short: Several examples in the space of the farmers' phone-in: "You ignorant cu.."
- Day In The Life: "Basic Alan" in season one fits the criteria; it takes place over the course of a single day where, not having to work, having no engagements and with the Travel Tavern closed for renovations, Alan basically has to find ways to amuse himself.
- Dumbass DJ:
- Alan, Alan, ALAN!
- Dave Clifton, in a way which is nicely lampshaded by Alan:
"It's difficult to understand you when you say 'splidding' as I know in real life you say splitting
. It's interesting, the way you substitute a D for a T when you're broadcasting. If you ask me it's the behaviour of a dosser
- Erotic Dream: A recurring gag in the first series has Alan frequently segue into a kind of daydream in which he offers to do a lap-dance for a variety of men whilst wearing a leather codpiece and one of his Pringle jumpers with the nipples cut out, whenever he's whoring himself to get back on TV.
- Also serves as a source of some of Alan's vaguely gay moments which he otherwise recognises and awkwardly corrects, also brought up in the I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan autobiography.
- Erotic Eating: Jill and the chocolate mousse. Alan is a little squicked out.
- Although it's important to note that the joke seems to be about how bizarre and neurotic Alan can be in his approach to women and sex.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All famous movie titles with the word "Alan" awkwardly inserted into them.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Alan, as a generally terrible broadcaster, is fond of these, and usually in incredibly bad taste.
Kate Fitzgerald: (after describing her history with drugs) I notice you end almost every anecdote with the phrase "needless to say, I had the last laugh".
Alan: Yeah, well, you could end some of your chapters with "needles to say... I took drugs".
- Jaded Washout: Alan. The show is all about "The bitter life of a failed chat show host".
- Last-Second Word Swap: Many of Alan or Michael's stories end with this trope. Prime example:
Michael: ...so he flips him over, and he fu—
Lynn enters the room.
Michael:—and fu— and funnily enough it landed on all four wheels and they drove away.
Alan: Strangest story I've ever heard.
- Loony Fan: Alan's "biggest fan" has an entire room devoted to photos of him, with a life-size mannequin in it. He also has a tattoo of Alan's face across his entire chest.
Fan: [boastfully] It took four hours! I passed out twice!
- Mail Order Bride: Sonya, Alan's Ukrainian girlfriend. Also Michael's Thai wife who "didn't fit in with the culture in Newcastle", and left him to move to... Sunderland.
- Mr. Fanservice: John the sexy builder.
- Moment Killer: Lynn decides that Alan's date with Jill is a good time to deliver his fungal foot powder.
- Off The Wagon: Alan's Radio Norwich colleague, Dave Clifton, which Alan brings up on-air when they're Volleying Insults: "...you're back on the boddle!"
- Overly Long Gag: "Dan. Dan. DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN..." (Dan ignores him.)
- Precision F-Strike: Alan's response when Dave Clifton attempts a series of traffic cone puns. Dave is genuinely shocked, and points out they're on the air, to which Alan smugly responds that they're now in Dave's slot and therefore it's his problem.
- Running Gag: Frequent mentions of Bill Oddie. (In Real Life, Bill Oddie thinks this is hilarious.)
Sophie: Oh, there was a call for you. A Mr. Nesshead rang.
Alan: Right. Never heard of him. Did he leave a first name?
Sophie: No, it was just a Mr. P. Nesshead.
Alan: Sophie, thatís a crank call. Thatís another crank call.
Sophie: [Smirking] Is it?
Alan: Read it back to yourself.
Sophie: Oh yeah, I can see what heís done now. Shall I put it on the list with all the others?
Alan: If you would. Actually, can I have a look at that list? I want to get to the bottom of this. [Reading] "Mr. G. String... Mr. Nick Hers... Y. Front... Mr. T. Osser"? That doesnít even work! "Mr. B. Oddie"? This is Bill Oddie! Itís not a prank call. Why have you put it on there?
Susan: Well, we thought it looked like "body".
Alan: Whatís rude about a body?
- And Sue Cook: in reality inoffensive and mild-mannered, in the Alan universe she becomes a foul-mouthed, abusive heavy smoker. Cook sent a letter to Coogan after the show apologising for her behaviour.
- Sequel: To Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Alan dimming the light at Jill's request. Thankfully he dims it all the way and saves us a bit of Fan Disservice.
- Similar Squad: Alan's chance meeting with Dan. Dan. Dan. DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN...
- Sound Effect Bleep: Alan finds a few suitable farm animal noises to use on the angry farmers.
- And the hilariously distracting "background" traffic noise he uses for a traffic report in series 2, which has Alan delivering a screamed bleeped-out Cluster F-Bomb.
BG: [BEEP BEEP] Get out the way, you f—-ing idiot! [HONK] You could get a bus through there, you f—-ing c—t! [HONK] You stupid ——ing ——, LET ME THROUGH! [AIRHORN] GO!! THERE'S NOTHING THERE!! GO!!!!
Alan: We've got a report -
BG: [HONK HONK]
Alan: [turns it off] Gonna just get rid of that, it's annoying.
- Stalker Shrine: Alan's Loony Fan has a whole room devoted to him.
- Take Our Word for It: Whatever it is that Alan keeps in his dresser drawer. According to Word of God (i.e. Coogan, on the commentary), it's exactly what you think it is. Yes, one of those.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Alan.