Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (4 stars)

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa - Embargoed until Mon 5 Aug.

The hapless radio DJ's big screen debut is a welcome slice of accomplished British character comedy

Two decades after his initial appearance, the character of Alan Partridge takes to the big screen with enjoyable results; the gamble here is throwing him into a siege, a life-or-death situation where his majestically inappropriate behavior is deliberately against the grain.

With his local radio station facing a corporate restructuring, Partridge (Steve Coogan) is initially found fighting for his job, and dropping his fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) into the mix to save his own broadcasting skin. At a party to celebrate the take-over, Pat returns with a shotgun and takes a random selection of partygoers as hostages. Partridge initially escapes, but is dragged back into proceedings when he accepts the role of go-between. As the siege escalates, Partridge’s self-seeking desire to increase his own celebrity poses as much of a risk as Pat‘s shotgun.

Taking a steer from classic hostage melodramas like Billy Wilder’s Ace in The Hole and Sydney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa deserves kudos for not broadening out the satirical intent of the character. Although Partridge does lose his trousers at one point, director Declan Lowney never allows things to descend into farce; there’s an edge to proceedings, even if the target of the jokes, the inanity of local radio ‘celebrity’, is a familiar one.

Well supported from Felicity Montagu as Lynn, Alan’s hapless Christian manager, and given some dramatic weight by Meaney as the unpredictable Pat, Coogan takes centre-stage by pushing Partridge’s vanity; his opening credits sing-along to Roachford’s 'Cuddly Toy' nails his vapidity nicely, and highlights include his romancing a hostage in the disable toilet or his agonizingly patronizing treatment of the policewoman in charge, Coogan’s gift for making Partridge a believably awful everyman makes Alpha Papa a welcome slice of accomplished British character comedy.

General release from Wed 7 Aug.

Alan Partridge Alpha Papa Trailer

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • UK
  • 1h 30min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Declan Lowney
  • Cast: Steve Coogan, Tim Key
  • UK release: 7 August 2013

Sidestepping the usual curse that blights TV projects when they reach the big screen, this is a tremendously fun outing for Partridge as he unwittingly becomes a hostage negotiator at his digital radio station.