Is Steve Coogan's Alan Partridge morphing into Tommy Saxondale?
Feature-length Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa released on DVD and Blu-ray
Steve Coogan's inability to escape his most successful character was mined for some of the best material in The Trip, his 2010 collaboration with Rob Brydon and Michael Winterbottom. For a minority however, myself included, it's Tommy Saxondale that's the more complex character and one that has managed to seep, intentionally or otherwise, into the version of Alan Partridge we meet in the 2013 feature-length outing Alpha Papa. Much like Partridge's love for the oft-beleagured Wings ('They're only the band The Beatles could have been'), rocker-turned-suburban-pest-controller Tommy Saxondale has suffered unfair neglect through being overshadowed by a more well-known predecessor.
As Steve Coogan himself said in a recent hour-long BBC interview with Mark Lawson, where the essential comic appeal of Alan Partridge is laughing at the fool, with Saxondale, there's also an empathy with his spirited and occasionally even insightful railings against an unjust world, and the visible frustration that his generation's revolution resolutely failed to happen, both of which make his inevitable unravelling all the messier.
While it would be too easy for Saxondale devotees to claim that the two characters are simply morphing, the post-Saxondale incarnation of Partridge in Alpha Papa certainly shares some of the ex-roadie's characteristics. Scenes where he unable to resist speaking with faux-Olde English verbosity, and where he twirls an imaginary moustache will resonate with Saxondale fans.
Similarly, music has always played a key role in all Alan Partridge outings, and scenes in Alpha Papa featuring songs are perfectly judged to provide insight into Alan circa 2013. The already-reknowned in-car rendition of Roachford's 'Cuddly Toy' and the end credits scene using Sparks' 'No 1 Song in Heaven' are perfectly-pitched choices of songs that exist on the threshold of credibility. Elsewhere, John Farnham's 'You're The Voice' and Philip Glass' 'Koyaanisquatsi' are pieces whose location in the cultural consciousness, much like Partidge himself, is defined by them having just the right amount of ridiculousness, but crucially, enough qualities to genuinely admire.
Alpha Papa is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Mon 2 Dec.