I'm Alan Partridge: Series One

I'm Alan Partridge: Series One
Before Little Britain and The Office, it was a failed TV presenter named Alan Partridge that made British television so appetising. The creation of comedian Steve Coogan, this BBC sitcom developed from a stand-up routine and a previous series, Knowing Me Knowing You… with Alan Partridge. That show witnessed Partridge’s disastrous turn interviewing celebrities, as well as reached new lows in the art of product placement. I’m Alan Partridge picks up after his show’s been cancelled. Alan has been dumped by his wife, now lives in a travel tavern (that’s British for motel) and hosts an early morning show on Radio Norwich — needless to say, he’s at a career and personal low. Surrounded by his mousey, doormat of an assistant, Lynn, and the smarmy motel employees, Alan tries persistently to get back on track but always manages to stick his foot in his mouth. He’s the king of inappropriate comment and gesture, often rubbing people with a superficial thumb despite clearly lacking any sort of class or prominence. The six episodes concern getting back on television; he blows an interview with Tony Hayers, BBC’s Commissioner of Programming and the bane of his existence (a running gag that extends from Knowing Me…). The obsession with the man leads Alan to recurring daydreams where he dons a leather thong and performs a dance, in what is a disturbing case of avant-garde comedy. Plenty of self-deprecating jabs and hilarious gags — a bizarre sexual encounter involving chocolate mousse, an unfounded beef with farmers, a fascination with Bangkok Chick Boys and claiming Wings were "the band the Beatles could have been” — as well as a brilliantly effective yet subtle cliff-hanger add up to one of Britain’s greatest comedy series ever. Cementing this praise are extras that add more savoury moments. Commentaries are provided by both Alan Partridge and Steve Coogan separately, representing the division between the character and the comedian. In character, it’s deadpan observational comedy with Alan and Lynn explaining the scenarios with the utmost seriousness. Alan’s disgust over the BBC’s recent embrace of all Britons comes to a brilliant boil when he mutters, "a Welsh man reads the news now, which is just ridiculous.” Meanwhile, Coogan joins writer Peter Baynham and director Armando Iannucci for a nice handful of "behind the scenes” revelatory fun. Plus: "Unused Alan,” "Add-on Alan” and "Still Alan.” (BBC)