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Series / This Time With Alan Partridge

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He's back.

2019 British comedy seeing the return of Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge... in more ways than one. A second series was released in 2021.

Over twenty years after his first (and last) television hosting gig ended ignominiously with the shooting of a guest and the punching of a senior programming executive with a chicken, Alan Partridge has (somehow) returned to BBC television. After the regular male host of This Time, a weekly late-night magazine program (think The One Show) has suddenly fallen ill, Alan is drafted to temporarily act as the host alongside Jennie Gresham, the chipper young female host. Eagerly grasping what may be his last chance to return to broadcast television and escape the dreary world of local digital radio, Alan launches into his new role with all the talent, ability, charm and skill he is able to muster.


Chaos, naturally, ensues.

Provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Sam Chatwin was widely viewed as a jab at popular historian Dan Snow, son of former BBC correspondent Peter Snow, and the accusations of Nepotism that have surrounded his career. As demonstrated here, Snow himself seemed to view the parody with plenty of good humour.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Not quite an adaptation, since it's part of the same universe, but the show essentially distills parts of previous media starring Alan into one.
    • It takes the "live on-air" approach from The Day Today and especially Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge.
    • The "behind-the-scenes" glimpses allow us to see Alan outside of the showbiz personality to the loser underneath, as with I'm Alan Partridge. Lynn also shows up throughout the episodes, and Alan's interactions with Ted, the recurring fan from Sunderland, evoke his dynamic with Michael.
    • Giving Alan a co-host to bounce off echoes Mid-Morning Matters. Simon also appears.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The two regular presenters of This Time aren't really much better than Alan, they're just more charming and adept at hiding it.
    • Jennie seems to be all smiles and charm (although this, naturally, starts to slip the more time she spends next to Alan), but she's very quick to steal the off-air jokes he makes that actually work and use them herself on-air. It is also implied at times that she is a bit of a two-faced prima donna behind the scenes.
    • John Baskell is memorialized as a saintly and beloved television fixture with lots of charity work under his belt, but Alan's frequent slip-ups on-air gradually make it clear that Baskell was a career-focused sleaze who cared little for his devoted fans. Revelations toward the end of his memorial episode reveal that he was also a sexual predator who used his charity work to find, groom and abuse his victims.
    • Sam Chatwin is an oily, manipulative jerk who throws his weight around, belittles Alan, makes no secret about how he is planning on stealing Alan's job and clearly only is where he is because of nepotism, but has sufficient charm to win the audience over.
    • Ruth Duggan is never anything less than polite, friendly and professional on the surface, but she's never forgiven Alan for a slight in their past (according to him he split sherry on her) and so is determined to undermine and embarrass him, usually by acting as the Commander Contrarian to everything he says.
  • Bookends: The first series begins and ends with Alan asking someone back-stage to give him a glass of water.
  • Brick Joke: Early in Episode 2 Alan looks at the ceiling and notices a shuttlecock. At the end of the episode, it falls on the set.
  • British Brevity: Thus far twelve episodes spread through two series. Still, a better track record than Knowing Me, Knowing You, Alan.
  • Commander Contrarian: Ruth Duggan, who Alan once accidentally spilled sherry on and has since responded by contradicting everything he says, even while on air. This even extends to when he is asking her whether she is happy about getting engaged.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • In episode one, Alan only reveals "Mickey's" true identity and begins to embarrass him after "Mickey" has antagonised Alan by revealing humiliating material found after hacking into Alan's computer.
    • In episode two, Alan is increasingly belittled and humiliated by Jennie and Sam, who make no secret of the fact that they're openly gunning for Sam to take his job. Consequently, when it's revealed that John Baskell, whom they've been eulogising all episode, was a sexual predator, Alan takes great pleasure in making them squirm by reminding them just how much they've both been emphasizing how close they were...
  • Expy:
    • Alan takes on a Piers Morgan role on Good Morning Britain here. Like Morgan, Alan is the tactless, unaware, self-promoting and petty co-host to a beautiful young host who only barely tolerates his repulsive antics. However, Alan is far less of a boorish sleaze than Morgan, to keep him from being too horrible to watch.
    • Sam Chatwin is a parody of Dan Snow, a TV historian and frequent contributor to The One Show (a key inspiration for the series), who many believe would probably not have such a prominent TV career as he does were his father not legendary BBC journalist Peter Snow.
  • Hidden Depths: On occasion Sidekick Simon will actually end up on the presenting sofa, where has been seen to have a fairly natural presenting nature. Alan, of course, is not happy.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: In a segment on the expansion of Heathrow Airport (sorry, "adding a third runway", Ruth Duggan slightly snidely catches Alan when he comments that the proposal will add billions to the economy by pedantically pointing out that he didn't specify whether he was talking about pounds (despite this being pretty clear in context, as he was talking about the British — UK economy). When she, in turn, notes than an objection is that it will have negative impacts on the health of "thousands", he immediately picks her up on her imprecision by demanding she clarify whether she's talking about thousands of humans or other possible flora and fauna that could be affected. She's clearly seething to have to clarify, but can't call Alan out on the obviousness and how childish he's being without facing the same charge regarding her own pettiness.
  • Hypocrite:
    • "Mickey", the masked hacktivist who Alan interviews in the first episode. He lambasts Alan and, having hacked his workplace and personal computer, proceeds to humiliate him by reading out pitiful and embarrassing details about him on air. When Alan gets fed up and reveals who "Mickey" himself really is, however, his response is to complain about agreeing to do the interview under conditions of privacy and storm off in a huff.
    • After spending the entire episode waxing lyrical over how close they were to the recently-deceased John Baskell and overtly using this as a tool to push Alan further away from any chance of continuing to host the show, both Jennie and Sam Chatwin instantly try to distance themselves from Baskell when it's revealed that he had a habit of sexually harassing women. Alan doesn't let them wriggle off the hook so easily, however. That said, Alan isn't exactly much better since he's also been trying to jump onto the "I knew John" bandwagon all episode, but ironically his ineptitude in doing so works in his favour for once.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Alan remains a dick throughout the series, but he's not always the one in the wrong:
    • He's clearly only doing it for self-serving reasons (to increase his chances of remaining on the show), but the way he refuses to let Jennie and Sam off the hook when they try to sweep the Twitter revelations about John Baskell's sexual misconduct under the rug and distance themselves from him is a rare heroic moment for Alan.
    • He's entirely right to point out that celebrity guest chef Ralphie Moore should have read his health and safety briefing before coming on the show and not prepared food with oysters, which Alan is allergic to.
    • In his interactions with Ruth Duggan, he's often the one trying to be professional and get through the segment, whereas Ruth responds to even reasonable comments and observations he makes with knee-jerk contradiction and dismissiveness (though in turn Alan keeps getting derailed by his frustration and dragging out the conflict longer than it needs to be).
  • Mirror Character: A constant undercurrent of the series that that Alan, for all his pettiness and venal narcissism, isn't actually that much worse from the other celebrities who host and appear on This Time; he's just less skilled at covering up said pettiness and narcissism with charm and apparent professionalism. Made especially clear in episode two, in which John Baskell's career highlights are heavily implied to be not that much better than Alan's various half-witted program ideas, Sam Chatwin is clearly only where he is due to nepotism rather than merit, and all three are shown at various moments to have barely-concealed lechery towards Jennie — except where Alan constantly bungles things up, John and Sam are sufficiently smooth to get the audience (and producers) on side.
  • Nepotism: Much as he tries to pretend otherwise, Sam Chatwin clearly only has a media career because his father was the Head of Factual Programming at the BBC.
  • Pet the Dog: When Jennie is having a tough time with her fiance, Alan genuinely tries to talk nicely to her, and they actually bond for once.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Played with. John Baskell isn't actually revealed to be dead until the second episode, but the illness which leads to his death creates the opening on This Time that Alan fills, thus starting the plot.
  • Running Gag:
    • Simon's constant technological failures.
    • The opening credits become steadily more Alan-focused as he manages to, through luck and ruthlessness, wrangle more and more control over the show.
    • Alan, seeking audience members to interview, inevitably picks Ted, a super-fan from Sunderland who has a rather troubled life and an inability to clearly get to the point which ends up distracting Alan from whatever he was supposed to be interviewing him about.
    • Roving reporter Ruth Duggan has an old grudge against Alan for an off-screen incident where he accidentally spilled sherry on her, which she expresses on-air by contradicting every single thing he says or asks her.
    • Each episode hints at a different sexual fetish or appetite that Alan apparently possesses and tries to keep hidden; in one episode he is transfixed by a female interviewee's hands, in another several nude photos of pregnant women are revealed to be on his iPad, in another he alludes to a recurring dream he has about visiting a prostitute, and so on.
  • Show Within a Show: The premise of this shows concerns Alan presenting a fictional show called "This Time". Said show is used as a parody of current affairs programme such as The One Show and Good Morning Britain.
  • Smarmy Host: Alan, of course. Prior to him was John Baskell, who was clearly better at hiding his smarm than Alan, but might have actually been worse if the way he lets his hand linger on Jennie's knee is any indication.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: It isn't overt, but Jennie due to her role as an Expy for the gorgeous young women who end up presenting current affairs shows alongside much older, less attractive men and for whom their beauty is emphasized and played up no matter how talented they are at actually presenting. She's very leggy, one unseen segment has her donning a leotard, and Alan, John and Sam Chatwin are varying degrees of lecherous toward her.
  • Stepford Smiler: Jennie has a rather superficial grin that starts to seem more fixed the longer she has to put up with Alan.
  • Stylistic Suck: Oh so much, as per usual for an Alan Partridge production. Averted in that This Time, prior to Alan, is clearly a middle-of-the-road, unexceptional current events show watched largely by older people. It has the usual set-up of an experienced male host and a young, beautiful female host, manufactured banter and reports that fail to go in-depth and are forgotten by the next segment: all-in-all, fairly typical. Once Alan comes on-board, however, things start to fall apart due to his:
    • petty nature constantly surfacing
    • off-topic tirades
    • inability to understand the tone of each segment
    • shameless self-promotion
    • uneasy way with people
    • petty rivalries with other people on the show
    • insistence on bringing Sidekick Simon on as a comedic element and giving him far too much to handle, then frequently becoming outraged when Simon fails to meet Alan's standards.
    • Of special note are his own segments in which he has clearly been given too much creative control, resulting in what should be an easy-going report turning into a gory fight scene right out of Braveheart.
  • Wham Line: Near the end of the final episode of series two, Alan discovers that pictures of him in blackface have been leaked to the tabloid press and makes the ill-advised decision to show them on TV so he can offer a weak excuse, jeopardising his career and costing him an interview with Princess Anne. Then we get this exchange, revealing that the images hadn't been leaked after all:
    Lynn: Simon's a bit worried. He made a joke that went wrong.
    Alan: Simon's hit or miss, he knows that.
    Lynn: It's not like that. The thing with the pictures.