Saturday, 28 July 2012

TV: Alan Partridge, Welcome To The Places Of My Life

One Of The Funniest Characters On TV...

Alan Partridge, as hilarious as ever.
He’s back, and once again he’s at his brilliant best.  In Welcome To The Places Of My Life, Alan Partridge is as unintentionally hilarious as ever.
In the show Alan introduces us to some of the key places in Norfolk and if like me your immediate thought was ‘surely Norfolk doesn’t have enough places of significance to fill an extended special,’ then you’d be right.  Even before the halfway point Alan is introducing us to his local newsagent, but the great thing about Alan is that he can make even the most mundane location or event sound incredibly dramatic.  For example at one point in the show he guides us around Norwich City Hall and reveals with the unmistakably over-the-top sense of drama that is his trademark, “It’s incredible to think so few people know how close this city came to a blanket imposition of night-time parking fees.”

This extended special features many hilarious moments so it’s hard to pick out a few highlights, but if I had to mention some of my own personal favourites I would have to include one scene during the opening sequence which had me in fits of laughter.  In it Alan is filmed on his in-car cam narrowly avoiding a road collision with another road user.  We don’t see or hear the offender due to the restricted in-car view from the cam, but the pair soon become embroiled in an angry altercation.

"What are you gonna do about it!?"
Alan doesn’t shirk from the confrontation, however, and quickly adopts aggressive body language as he snaps at his opponent, "Oh, yeah!  Well what’re you gonna do about it?"  Fortunately, his opponent seems to back down and they eventually carry on their journey leaving Alan to conclude, “Ridiculous!  I mean she shouldn’t really be riding a bike at her age.”  Genius!

Other scenes of particular note include a visit to Norwich Market where Alan is the target of some good-natured banter from one of the stall holders and as you’d predict he reacts quite badly to this well-intentioned ribbing with amusing results.  There’s also a hilarious segment where he interviews a hyrdrotherapist in the local swimming pool while the pair of them tread water and Alan clearly has some difficulty staying afloat.  I won’t reveal the joke, but it’s classic Alan and reminds the viewer of Alan’s unique characteristics which make him the unintentional comedy legend that he is.

The show also features a couple of brief scenes at North Norfolk Digital, and although his radio show doesn’t get a lot of air-time, in the brief clips we get to see, Alan’s broadcasting style is as embarrassingly brilliant as ever.  According to Alan, “Sting described it as ‘conversational,’ but Ross Kemp nailed it when he said it was ‘equidistant between chit-chat and analysis.’”

Alan tucking into the free samples at Norwich Market. 
For all Alan does have a few tetchy moments with some of the people he meets, he’s generally cheerful and upbeat throughout.  However, without revealing too much, once the show enters its final quarter things become a touch downbeat and as a result the show maybe loses a bit of steam towards the end.  Overall though, Welcome To The Places Of My Life is Alan once again at his superb and hilarious best.

This extended special was shown on Sky Digital which means that not all Alan Partridge fans will have caught the show when it aired.  A repeat showing must surely be inevitable at some point though, so my advice to any Partridge fans who missed it the first time would be to take out a subscription to Sky Atlantic.  Or failing that, buy the DVD when it inevitably gets released.

In summary, Welcome To The Places Of my life is an excellent reminder of why Alan Partridge is one of the funniest characters on TV and we need more of him on our screens.

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