I'm Alan Partridge (1997–2002)

TVSeries


I'm Alan Partridge (TV Series 1997–2002)

Alan Partridge, a failed television presenter, is now presenting a programme on local radio in Norwich. He desperately tries to revive his broadcasting career.
UK
IMDb   8.5 /10
TheMovieDb    7.3 /10
RottenTomatoes
FilmAffinity   7.3 /10
Creators
Creator Dominic Brigstocke
Creator Armando Iannucci
Creator Peter Baynham
Creator Steve Coogan
Information
Release Date1997-11-03
Runtime
GenreComedy
Content RatingTV-MA (TV-MA)
AwardsTop rated TV #210 | 5 wins & 6 nominations total
CompanyTalkBack Productions
CountryUK
LanguageEnglish, German, French
Alan Partridgeas Alan Partridge…
Michaelas Michael…
Lynn Benfieldas Lynn Benfield
Dave Cliftonas Dave Clifton
Voice of Radio Norwichas Voice of Radio Norwich…
Sonjaas Sonja
Susanas Susan
Sophieas Sophie
Builderas Builder
Tony Hayersas Tony Hayers
Builderas Builder
Builderas Builder
Terence Booth
Terence Booth
Peter Linehanas Peter Linehan
Gordonas Gordon
Hugh Morrisas Hugh Morris…
Piet Morantas Piet Morant

I'm Alan Partridge

I'm Alan Partridge is a BBC sitcom written by Steve Coogan, Peter Baynham and Armando Iannucci. Coogan stars as Alan Partridge, a tactless and inept radio DJ and television presenter who has been left by his wife and dropped from the BBC. The show follows Partridge as he lives alone in a roadside hotel and presents a graveyard slot on local Norwich radio, all the while desperately pitching ideas for new television shows.

Two series of six episodes each (12 in total) were broadcast five years apart. Series 1 was released in late 1997, while a second season followed in 2002, with Partridge now living in a static caravan after recovering from an off-screen mental breakdown. Iannucci said the writers used the sitcom as "a kind of social X-ray of male middle-aged Middle England."

Supporting Coogan in the cast are Felicity Montagu as his faithful but timid personal assistant, Lynn Benfield; Simon Greenall as Geordie handyman Michael; and Phil Cornwell as Partridge's rival DJ Dave Clifton. Series 2 also featured Amelia Bullmore as Partridge's Ukrainian girlfriend Sonja.

The show received critical acclaim and was a success amongst audiences, being nominated for three BAFTAs (winning two), two British Comedy Awards (winning both), and a Royal Television Society award. In a list drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted by industry professionals, I'm Alan Partridge was named the 38th-best British television series of all time.

Episodes were shot on tape with hand-held cameras and filmized in post-production to achieve a single-camera, documentary feel to the show. Interior scenes were made in a studio, with closed-wall sets and a live audience.


Characters

Both series

Alan Partridge (Coogan)

The main character of the series, Alan Partridge, a former host on Knowing Me, Knowing You... with Alan Partridge on BBC television, was dismissed from the BBC partly for punching Chief Commissioning Editor Tony Hayers in the face, and partly because his programmes were of a low standard with ever declining ratings. In series one, he is divorced from his wife Carol, lives in the Linton Travel Tavern, and is reduced to working the graveyard shift on Radio Norwich, whilst desperately trying to get back on television in any capacity.

By series two, following an off-screen mental breakdown, Alan's career is on an upswing – in particular, his Radio Norwich show has been moved to a more prestigious evening slot. Besides that, he hosts 'Skirmish' a military-based quiz show on digital television (on fictional channel UK Conquest, which has the highest audience share for any programme "at that time of day in the Norfolk area"), and he has published his autobiography. He also has a girlfriend, several years his junior, called Sonja, who lives with him in a static caravan next to the dream house he is having built.

In both series, Alan is shown to be generally loathsome and narcissistic, with very poor social skills and a largely empty personal life.

Lynn Benfield (Montagu)

Alan's hard-working, long-suffering personal assistant, Lynn appears to run Alan's life to such an extent that he cannot survive without her organisational skills; despite this, he usually treats her with contempt. Besides dealing with Alan's working life, Lynn's other duties have included accompanying Alan to visit a show home, buying medicinal powder for Alan's fungal foot infections, and frequently listening patiently to Alan's complaints.

Lynn is a member of a local Baptist church, which Alan finds strange but is willing to tolerate. Her mother is housebound (as well as apparently overweight and racist), requiring Lynn to balance her life between looking after her mother's affairs and those of Alan. When accompanying Alan, Lynn appears inhibited by him, but seems capable of easily blending into social situations when Alan is not present. Despite her intense workload, Lynn's salary is only £8,000 per year.

By the second series, her mother has died, and Lynn finds romance with a fellow churchgoer, a retired policeman. At the celebration following her church baptism, she is shown to have many friends and is held in high regard by other church members.

Michael (Greenall)

An all-purpose worker at the Linton Travel Tavern, Michael speaks with a heavy Geordie accent. Michael and Alan have an unequal friendship, as Michael only ever refers to Alan as 'Mr. Partridge'. Michael frequently tells stories of his time in the British Army, to the delight of Alan, especially if they are of a salacious or violent nature. During a period of military placement in the Philippines, Michael married a Filipino woman, and the two moved back to Michael's native Newcastle upon Tyne. However, his wife left him and now lives with his brother in Sunderland. In the last episode of the first series, Michael appears at Alan's party already drunk on Scrumpy Jack and proceeds to insult the other guests.

He is also a recurring character in the second series of I'm Alan Partridge, in which he has left the Linton Travel Tavern and works in a petrol station.

Dave Clifton (Cornwell)

Dave is a Radio Norwich DJ who in the first series runs The Breakfast Show, the prestigious drive-time programme scheduled right after Alan's "graveyard slot" show. During the handover every morning, Alan always tries to engage in witty banter with Dave, but their chatting fails to disguise the bitter rivalry between them. Dave is an alcoholic and has a driving ban, according to Alan. Much to Alan's surprise and chagrin, Dave is a friend of Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley.

Dave also appears in the second series, in which his fortunes are shown to have declined just as Alan's have improved. Clifton now works the graveyard shift (after Alan's more prestigious evening shift) and appears to have resumed drinking.

Series one only

Susan Foley (Durkin)

Susan is the manager of the Linton Travel Tavern. Alan frequently makes tactless comments to Susan about her appearance (once suggesting to her that she "could have been throwing up all night" but that her smile would not falter). In reaction to these comments, Susan's painted-on smile is sometimes momentarily replaced by a look of shock and bemusement.

Susan displays an increasing dislike of Alan as the series progresses, but contains her irritation until the end of the last episode, in which she finally tells Alan what she thinks of him at his leaving party.

Sophie (Phillips)

Sophie is a recently employed receptionist at the Travel Tavern. She is frequently seen to be suppressing laughter at Alan and often jokes about him behind his back.

Ben (Lance)

Ben is another member of staff at the Travel Tavern and Sophie's boyfriend. Alan is jealous of Ben's romance with Sophie and does his best to sabotage their romantic trysts. In later episodes, Alan attempts to forge a friendship with Ben, despite his earlier irritation at Ben's informal manner.

Series two only

Sonja (Bullmore)

Alan's thick-accented Ukrainian girlfriend Sonja, who is fourteen years Alan's junior and possesses a scatterbrained personality, which leads Alan to describe her as 'mildly cretinous'. Easily amused, she delights in practical jokes, and showers Alan with unwanted gifts such as personalised coffee mugs and cushions emblazoned with their faces. She is devoted to Alan, though he demonstrates little affection for her in return, while bragging to others about their age difference and sexual habits.


Reception

Digital Spy wrote: "the character of Partridge hit his comic peak" in I'm Alan Partridge. Entertainment Weekly described the show as "bleakly hilarious". The Telegraph named I'm Alan Partridge as one of the 10 best TV sitcoms of all time. In a poll of British comedians conducted by the TV channel Gold, it was named as the second-best British sitcom of all time.


Episodes

Series 1 (1997)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"A Room with an Alan"Dominic BrigstockePeter Baynham, Steve Coogan & Armando Iannucci3 November 1997

Alan's wife Carol has kicked him out and he is living at the Linton Travel Tavern, a hotel near the A11 in Cambridgeshire. He tells the hotel's manager Susan that his wife is living with a fitness instructor and that insulting graffiti has been sprayed on his car. He encounters handyman Michael, whom he asks to remove the graffiti, but has difficulty understanding Michael due to his strong Geordie accent.

Alan has lunch at BBC Television Centre with Tony Hayers (David Schneider), the programme commissioner of the BBC, about the possibility of a second series of Knowing Me, Knowing You. Hayers informs Alan that he will not get a second series, and then dismisses a number of other increasingly desperate pitches that Alan makes for new shows. Alan returns to his hotel room, turns on "Jet" by Wings and gives himself a black eye while making a poor attempt at an athletic leap from his bed to the mini-bar.
2"Alan Attraction"Dominic BrigstockePeter Baynham, Steve Coogan & Armando Iannucci10 November 1997

Without a second series of his programme, Alan is nearing bankruptcy and chooses to fire the entire staff at his company, Peartree Productions, rather than downsize his beloved car. However, when the staff ask him if he has a second series, Alan panics, and tells them that he has been successful.

While the staff prepare a party, and Jill, his flirtatious, chain-smoking, 50-year-old, divorced receptionist (Julia Deakin) goes out to buy some snacks, Alan tries to extricate himself by firing staff members for various "offences," such as leaving an unwashed coffee cup on the table and rolling eyes. Whilst he locks himself in his boardroom, the staff leave. Jill returns, wondering where everyone has got to (he tells her they have gone to a spice museum) and the two go on a date to a nearby owl sanctuary, where Alan's attempts at conversation bewilder Jill.

In the evening, the two attend a Valentine's Day dinner at the Travel Tavern and later go to his room. Jill's attempt at eroticism with chocolate mousse angers Alan, so he ends his liaison with her. Later that night on his radio show, he announces on-air that he has sacked her.
3"Watership Alan"Dominic BrigstockePeter Baynham, Steve Coogan & Armando Iannucci17 November 1997

After making various unsympathetic and ill-advised comments about farming on his radio show, Alan becomes an object of hatred for local farmers. On his radio show, Alan interviews the leader of the local Farmers' Union (Chris Morris), but instead of apologising, enrages local farmers even further.

Meanwhile, Alan has been hired to shoot an advertisement for a small-boating holiday company. On the day of the video-shoot, he attempts to blend in with the hard-drinking crew. During the shoot, he is crushed by a dead cow thrown from a bridge by disgruntled local farmers. Alan returns from hospital with a neck brace and broken fingers, and asks Susan to 'make pornography come on my television', after previously asking for such channels to be disconnected after the staff found out that he had watched "Bangkok Chickboys".
4"Basic Alan"Dominic BrigstockePeter Baynham, Steve Coogan & Armando Iannucci24 November 1997
There are major refurbishments taking place at the Linton Travel Tavern, during which the hotel is closed, leaving Alan as the only guest. Throughout the episode, he is desperately bored and does various things to pass the time, including dismantling a trouser press, walking along a busy dual carriageway to a petrol station to buy several bottles of windscreen washer fluid, driving round the ring road three times, buying some tungsten-tipped screws he never intends to use and dressing up as a zombie as a practical joke. His boredom culminates with an attempt to steal a traffic cone, with Michael and Lynn.
5"To Kill a Mocking Alan"Dominic BrigstockePeter Baynham, Steve Coogan & Armando Iannucci1 December 1997

Alan hosts "An Afternoon with Alan Partridge" at the hotel which is attended by his self-confessed "biggest fan", Jed Maxwell. He is also visited by Irish network executives (Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews) who are considering giving him a show on Irish television. They are unimpressed by Alan (particularly regarding his ignorant take on Ireland, the Troubles, and his misunderstanding of the U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday"), though they get along very well with Lynn.

Through a series of mishaps, the three of them end up at Jed's house. Having no home of his own, Alan pretends he cohabits with Jed. After Alan and the Irishmen discover that Jed's fandom is of a highly obsessive nature, with one of his rooms acting as shrine to the presenter, the two executives make their excuses and leave, leaving Alan and Jed alone. Alan becomes increasingly worried about his own safety and, following an altercation with Jed, he makes a hasty escape, fleeing across nearby fields.
6"Towering Alan"Dominic BrigstockePeter Baynham, Steve Coogan & Armando Iannucci8 December 1997

After an afternoon hosting a small village fayre and judging the vegetable competition, Alan is delighted to discover that Tony Hayers has died and that his successor is Chris Feather, a supporter of Alan’s works. Attending Hayers' funeral as he knows Chris will be there, he attempts to secure his sought-after second series. However, Feather later suffers a fatal heart attack just before Alan's new contract is signed.

Later, Alan and Lynn host a farewell party in his hotel room, where manager Susan finally lashes out at Alan, in retaliation for his behaviour throughout his protracted occupancy. The guests all leave as a result. The series ends as Alan and Lynn tidy up to the theme from The Adventures of Black Beauty, with Alan feeling pleased with himself.

Series 2 (2002)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
7"The Talented Mr Alan"Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci, Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham11 November 2002

While visiting Michael at the petrol station, Alan has a chance meeting with his old teacher Frank Raphael (Andrew Burt, who also provided the voice-overs for the various Radio Norwich jingles in both series). Alan convinces Raphael to let him give a talk to the sixth formers at the school where Raphael is now headmaster.Whilst at the school, Alan bumps into an old schoolmate who is now a teacher (Ian Puleston-Davies). They try to reminisce over old times, but Alan still holds a grudge against him for drawing a penis on the back of his school blazer in chalk, which Alan was caned for.In his talk, Alan ends up insulting Raphael for caning him when he was younger and also insults his schoolmate for "getting the lab assistant pregnant, and never the kid." All of this results in Alan receiving a stern talking-to in the headmaster's office.

Towards the end of the episode, the teacher comes into the petrol station; Alan, thinking he has come to fight, tries to threaten him with a hot apple pie. The schoolmate apologizes to Alan and hopes that they can be friends again, but as the schoolmate leaves the petrol station a customer tells him that he has got something on his back: Alan got Lynn to draw a chalk penis on his back.
8"The Colour of Alan"Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci, Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham18 November 2002

Michael comes to stay for a few days after his front door is stolen; Alan is asked to present a sales conference for "Dante's of Reading," a company that supplies coal-effect fires and fireplaces. Dante's Piet Morant (Steve Brody), a South African, visits Alan's partially built house.After his frequent pranks with the security staff at his country club backfire and the police are called, Alan is forced to bring Piet to his partially built house. Lynn and Michael improvise some makeshift furniture in the empty house: they balance a toilet door on a Black & Decker Workmate for a table and attach several torches to a bicycle wheel for lighting.

Alan is awarded the job, but after being denied entry to the country club, he attempts to climb over the fence and impales his foot on a metal spike. He refuses to seek medical treatment and attempts to present the sales conference.
9"Brave Alan"Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci, Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham25 November 2002

Alan makes a new friend at the BP garage, Dan (Stephen Mangan). They both like the same beer, use the same deodorant, and drive the same car. Dan owns a kitchen store, and arranges for Alan to present the Colman's Mustard Bravery Awards. Alan's attempts to impress Karen Colman are unsuccessful, but she strikes up an instant rapport with Sonja, later inviting her back to her house without Alan.On hearing that the Colmans' family motto is "Too much mustard gets up your nose," Alan tries to impress her by eating a large spoonful of mustard.

Later, at Dan's home, Alan finds out that Dan and his wife enjoy a deviantly spicy lifestyle; to his great discomfort, they show him a tape of them having intercourse.
10"Never Say Alan Again"Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci, Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham2 December 2002

Alan plans to watch all the James Bond films in sequential order for the bank holiday weekend with Michael. Lynn reveals to Alan that she has a new friend, Gordon, an ex-policeman who threatens Alan for mistreating Lynn.The Bond weekend goes wrong when Lynn accidentally destroys his Bond movies after spilling Sunny Delight over them. Alan then discovers that Michael has another friend, Tex (Peter Serafinowicz). He becomes jealous and falls out with Michael, un-inviting him to the Bond-athon. After making up with Michael, Alan discovers that Tex has taped over the one undamaged Bond film with an episode of "America's Strongest Man."

Because of this, he declares himself "Norfolk's Maddest Man" and decides to give the group a physical run-through of the entire opening sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me.
11"I Know What Alan Did Last Summer"Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci, Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham9 December 2002

The Inland Revenue are due to call and carry out a random investigation on Alan's business affairs, causing him to worry. The Inland Revenue people arrive earlier than the set time, catching Alan dancing in his caravan to Gary Numan's "Music for Chameleons". Panicking, Alan behaves extremely suspiciously.

After an argument with Sonja, Alan attempts to make up with her by claiming to be a friend of Bono's and taking her to his house (really Blickling Hall). Sonja does not fall for the deception. He then grudgingly consents to take her to London, although during the end credits, it is revealed that he has delegated that responsibility to Lynn.
12"Alan Wide Shut"Armando IannucciArmando Iannucci, Steve Coogan & Peter Baynham16 December 2002

The building work on Alan's house is finally complete and Sonja wants to move in. Alan, however, has other ideas. He is interviewed on a radio show called Prayer Wave, where his insensitive comments result in one of the guests (Julia Davis) walking out.After this, he attends Lynn's baptism at her church where he simulates blowing his head off with a shotgun and assaults one of the guests (Rob Brydon) who questions Alan's anecdote-writing ability.

Meanwhile, with "The Windmills of Your Mind" playing on the soundtrack, the remaining 14,000 unsold copies of Alan's book, "Bouncing Back," are pulped. Alan takes some away with him in a plastic bag as mementos.

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations for I'm Alan Partridge
YearAwardCategoryRecipientResult
1998British Academy Television AwardsBest Comedy (Programme or Series)Armando Iannucci, Dominic Brigstocke, Peter Baynham, Steve CooganWon
Best Comedy PerformanceSteve CooganWon
British Comedy AwardsBest TV Comedy ActorSteve CooganWon
Best TV SitcomI'm Alan PartridgeWon
Royal Television Society Television AwardsBest Situation Comedy or Comedy DramaTalkback ProductionsNominated
2003British Academy Television AwardsBest Comedy PerformanceSteve CooganNominated
British Comedy AwardsBest TV ComedyI'm Alan PartridgeNominated
Best TV Comedy ActorSteve CooganWon
Best TV Comedy ActressFelicity MontaguNominated
Royal Television Society Television AwardsBest Comedy PerformanceSteve CooganNominated