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"...Monkey Tennis?"
–Alan Partridge, pitching a programme idea to the BBC
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1997-2002 Brit Com starring Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge, a failed chat show host. An utterly loathsome, pathologically narcissistic and self-absorbed failure of a human being with a permanent sneer, a wardrobe of Pringle jumpers and a 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 partridge (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:

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  • Lynn: Alan's mousey 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 — an 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.


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This show provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Having bullied a fan into telling him what's wrong with his autobiography - namely that anecdotes are apparently not Alan's thing - Alan embarks upon a Blue Peter-related one that actually works, unlike a lot of his attempts at humour.
    • In a meta-example, Sue Cook reportedly enjoyed the show's off-screen depiction of her as a foul-mouthed and unstable maniac, and apparently sent a mock-apology letter to Steve Coogan afterwards.
  • Agony of the Feet: Happens in "The Colour of Alan," when Alan impales his foot on a very sharp piece of iron fencing.
  • Ambiguously Bi: The only characters Alan develops crushes on or ends up being together with are women, but he has bizarre daydreams in the first series, which all involve dancing for the producer who cancelled his series, and then there's his obsession with 'ladyboys'. He has displayed slight homophobic tendencies, however (describing himself as a "homo-sceptic"), but later becomes more tolerant in his attempts to be seen as politically correct.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Potentially the Bangkok Chickboys.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Lynn to Alan, putting up with his antics and seemingly on call at all hours.
  • 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!"
  • Bird Run: Alan's attempt to flee from his Loony Fan has to be seen to be believed.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens in the Series 1 finale. After six months at the Linton Travel Tavern, Alan is finally ready to check out. On his last night as a guest, he throws a party in his room and invites the hotel staff. Susan, the warm and friendly receptionist, decides to tell Alan what she really thinks of him.
    Susan: [shrieking] I'll 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.
    • In the final episode of series 1, Alan laments his current life at the Travel Tavern, complaining to Lynn that he's been living at the hotel for a hundred and eighty-two days. Later in the same episode, Susan finally snaps and yells that she's had to put up with Alan's crap for a hundred and eighty-two days.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Alan finds this trope pretty funny, Michael less so, and John the builder even less so. And don't forget the South African company rep.
  • 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.
  • Buffet Buffoonery: Alan Partridge brings his own (oversized) plate to the buffet.
  • Bully Hunter: In Series 2, Episode 4, 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.
  • Call-Back: A subtle one; at the end of his meeting with Tony Hayers, when informed he's not getting a second series of his chat show Alan stabs a fork into a nearby block of cheese. Hayers instantly looks wary. This is because he has prior experience of Alan assaulting him with food.
  • Cassandra Truth: Subverted. In "Never Say Alan Again," Dave Clifton informs Alan that he's planning to spend the weekend doing archery with Tony Hadley, lead singer of Spandau Ballet. Alan cannot hide his jealousy, but still tries to cover it up by dismissing Dave's claim outright.
    Alan: Rubbish.
  • Catchphrase: Alan has several:
    • "A-ha!" (his original catchphrase, carried over from his radio series)
    • "Back of the net!"
    • "Jurassic Park!"
    • "Cashback!"
    • "Spice World!"
  • Celebrity Lie: In Series 2, Alan claims to know Bono, in order to impress Sonja. Sonja immediately calls his bluff, and despite Lynn's heroic effort to help Alan save face, the entire deception is laughably amateurish.
  • Corrupt Hick: How Alan sees farmers.
  • 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.
    • He also thinks "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" is a song about how boring and depressing Sundays in general are, and not a song about the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.
  • Curse Cut Short: Several examples in the space of the farmers' phone-in: "You ignorant cu.."
  • Darker and Edgier: Series 2 is this, compared to Series 1. In the second series, Alan is still recovering from the effects of a Toblerone addiction he developed sometime after the events of Series 1, note  and has a harder time keeping his temper and various neuroses under control.
  • 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.
  • Determinator: One of Alan's few virtues is on full display in "The Colour of Alan," where he insists on hosting a sales conference despite a badly-wounded (and still bleeding) foot. Alan decides to push through his presentation as best he can, and even dismisses Lynn's (very justified) urging to withdraw his commitment out of hand.
    Alan: Lynn, some of these people have come from Stoke.
    • Though it's often deconstructed; as in the above case, the goal that Alan is determined to accomplish come hell or high water usually isn't actually worth it, and he just ends up screwing it up anyway.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: In "Watership Alan," Alan is given an opportunity to get himself out of trouble after insulting Norfolk's farming community by offering a complete apology to a representative of the farming union, but his own pride and inability to accept fault or back down causes him to needlessly escalate the situation instead. This ultimately results in him getting a cow dropped on him.
  • Dumbass DJ:
    • Alan! As summed up by Ben:
    "I didn't know you were into music. I know you're a DJ, but I've heard your show."
    • 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 Tony Hayers (the man who cancelled his series) 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.
  • 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. After all, one of the things that upsets him most is that there's now chocolate on the bed linen.
      • And on the valance. note 
  • Establishing Character Moment: Our first introduction to Alan in the series comes when we see him playing out a song on his radio show, doing a time check, introducing a "fact of the day" and introducing the next song. Through this, viewers who've never encountered him before learn the following:
    • He's a pedantic Know-Nothing Know-It-All with some reactionary views.note 
    • He's a blinkered hypocrite.note 
    • His career isn't going very well. note 
    • He's fascinated by banal trivia. note 
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • While Alan is not above discussing revenge fantasies in an Apache attack helicopter with Michael, he becomes visibly worried when Michael discusses his fantasy in great detail.
    • And even Alan, massive jerkass though he is, is appalled when Michael describes throwing a monkey off a cliff into the sea in a fit of rage.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: A downplayed example, since it's more "Shallow Cannot Comprehend Depth." During a promotional video for a local company who run charter houseboats for holidaymakers, Alan interviews a young woman who reveals that she likes to book a boat so that she can spend some time on the lakes reading and enjoying the scenery by herself. Alan, who is of course a huge narcissist who emotionally collapses if he doesn't have an audience of some kind, seems genuinely disturbed at the idea that someone can just spend their time peacefully and quietly enjoying nature all alone.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All famous movie titles with the word "Alan" awkwardly inserted into them. However, there is usually some kind of link between the title and the events of the episode. For example:
    • "A Room with an Alan" sets up the premise of the series, including Alan's dismal living situation in a single room in a travel tavern.
    • "Watership Alan" revolves around Alan getting a job filming a promo video for a company selling riverboat holidays.
    • "Basic Alan" is a Bottle Episode revolving around what Alan does when he's left to his his own devices (namely, just pissing about wasting time).
  • 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."
  • Ironic Echo: In the first episode, when Alan and Lynn are role-playing Alan's upcoming meeting with Tony Hayers, Alan gets Lynn to act out Tony's reasons for the worst case scenario of not giving him a second series. Lynn's in-character response is that the ratings for his show started badly and got worse. This spooks Alan and he eventually forces her to just tell him that he's getting a second series. Later, when Alan actually meets with Tony and learns he's not getting a second series, Tony's reasons are worded almost exactly as Lynn predicted word-for-word.
  • Jaded Washout: Alan. The series 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: Jed Maxwell, Alan's "biggest fan," has an entire room of his house covered in photos of him, complete with a life-size mannequin. He also has a larger-than-life-size tattoo of Alan's face covering his entire torso.
    Jed: [proudly] It took fourteen hours! I fainted three times!
  • 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 muscular builder in Series 2.
  • Moment Killer: Lynn decides that Alan's date with Jill is a good time to deliver his fungal foot powder. Also before he gets into bed with her, there's an awkward moment where he inadvertently compares her to a prostitute.
  • Narcissist: Alan is extremely arrogant and believes he's better than most people he comes across. He genuinely thinks that he's a celebrity and should be treated as such, and one of his main driving forces throughout the series is getting other people to recognize it.
  • No Social Skills: The great irony of Alan Partridge's life is that he is desperate to be a famous and beloved television chat personality, but possesses almost no charm, charisma or sociability whatsoever.
  • 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!"
  • Oireland: Alan dispelling his list of Irish stereotypes to the RTÉ executives has the opposite effect, compounded by making conversation about the Great Famine over breakfast.
  • Overly Long Gag: "Dan. Dan. Dan! Dan! Dan! Dan! Dan! Dan!" (Dan is too far away to hear 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.
    • One of the very last jokes of the second series; having imparted a fan with a Blue Peter-related anecdote, having been criticised for them, Alan caps it off with "...needless to say, I had the last laugh, now FUCK OFF."
  • 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, that’s a crank call. That’s another crank call.
    Sophie: [Smirking] Is it?
    Alan: Read it back to yourself.
    Sophie: Oh yeah, I can see what he’s 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 doesn’t even work! "Mr. B. Oddie"? This is Bill Oddie! It’s not a prank call. Why have you put it on there?
    Susan: Well, we thought it looked like "body."
    Alan: What’s rude about a body?
    Sophie: [Beat] Tits?
    • Sue Cook is mentioned to a lesser extent as another of Alan's celebrity friends. Cook, in reality, is inoffensive and mild-mannered, but in the Alan universe she becomes a foul-mouthed and abusive heavy smoker. (Cook reportedly enjoyed the joke and sent a letter to Coogan after the series, "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: Dan Moody, owner of Kitchen Planet. Alan bumps into him at the BP mini-mart and they hit it off instantly. Alan later declares to Lynn that Dan is his new best friend. It doesn't last, of course. By the end of the episode, Dan and his wife have invited Alan to have a threesome. Alan leaves their home in disgust and Dan is never seen again.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep:
    • Alan finds a few suitable farm animal noises to use on the angry farmers.
    • 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: Jed Maxwell, Alan's Loony Fan, has a whole room of his house devoted to Alan Partridge memorabilia. Also David Copperfield, though he is, as Alan points out, losing the battle for wall space.
  • 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.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Alan's rendition of "Close to You," where he starts too high, tries to correct for it, then just gives up.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Frequently happens with Alan. He even blurts out "Hey, sexy!" on live radio during the handover to the next show.
    Alan: ...I'll fight you! Sorry.
  • Witty Banter: Subverted. The on-air interactions between Alan and Dave ostensibly aim for this, but as they are two not-particularly-witty men who genuinely detest each other, the effect is somewhat lost.

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