Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa — motion picture review

Written by Neil Gibbons, Rob GibbonsSteve CooganArmando Iannucci and Peter Baynham.

So many television series adaptations are disappointing. The first to break the mould was Holiday on the Buses, in-which the characters all go on holiday together and it has absolutely nothing to do with the actual On the Buses. Other examples include Sex and the City, and Postman Pat: the Movie, in-which Pat isn’t a postman, isn’t in the original setting of the show, doesn’t wear his trademark glasses and fights a robot army.

Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa is not the case. Iannucci specifically described to The Guardian how he wanted to make sure this was the opposite of Holiday on the Buses by keeping all the key elements of the show as part of the story, even to the point of rejecting several ideas which would have done so.

Which means this still takes place at North Norfolk Digital – he’s still a DJ, and the other characters around him are still involved. Watching Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa gives you the sense of overwhelming relief; this isn’t going beyond the boundaries of what the thing is to the point of no longer being that thing. That’s the most important part of this covered: the Alan Partridge is still as much a part of this as the Alpha Papa – a very clever title, being that “Alpha Papa”‘s the radio phonetic code-name for someone initialised A.P.

Therefore, in making a feature-length Alan Partridge adventure that actually is that thing, it’s North Norfolk Digital that becomes the story, and his involvement in it is the trigger. Not only did he indirectly cause the situation – and therefore deserves to be at its heart – but it makes perfect sense for him to be chosen as the siege negotiator based on his status as a talk show host at the very radio station targeted by the unstable former employee.

What you want is Alan Partridge. Yes, there’s a coherent story, genuine laugh-out-moments and a soundtrack to rival Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Awesome Mix Vol. 1, but it’s Alan Partridge that’s the hero, without being shoe-horned or unjustifiably so.