As with many of telly’s biggest muppets, most of Alan Partridge’s funny moments are linked to the universe-sized delusions he holds about how people see him. Despite spending the vast majority of his life as a middling Norfolk newsman, long-term Partridge fans will know that he’s always viewed himself as the most coveted of national treasures.
And so it proves once again in the opening scenes of This Time‘s third episode when Alan, standing on a central London rooftop, delivers a cringeworthy ode to the corporation that has, against all odds, reversed his TV fortunes. “Fixed here in the horizon, flushed to the sky,” he says, “lies a carpet of people, a meadow of eyes. An orchard of eyes, a quiver of glee, a nation reflected in the BBC.” But instead of striking the grand note he’s clearly hoping for, all it does is remind us of his pathetic essence – and that there’s no low he won’t sink to in furthering his career.
Elsewhere in this latest outing, Alan locks horns with fictional Guardian columnist Dan Milner, who has been invited on This Time to defend his criticism of Partridge in a recent piece. Petty, vindictive and, as usual, hilariously embarrassing, Alan squirms through a misguided argument with all the grace of a five-year-old throwing a silent tantrum.
“Your piece on female Olympic swimmers ended up being ten minutes of you discussing women with big feet,” Milner tells Alan. But where the Partridge of yesterday would have have hit back and made things worse, this time he’s too desperate not to cock up a good gig.
After that, there’s an SAS training exercise to be ruined – in which Alan tries to impress a group of burly squaddies. Naturally, he does no such thing, instead shooting all the target boards that were supposed to be hostages, including a Sikh man that he predictably mistook for a terrorist.
They might be the same gags we’ve seen (and laughed at) before, but when the Indian variant is on the rise and a squiffy Boris seems on the verge of cancelling summer, a slice of comforting comedy gold works wonders. You can always (never) count on Alan.
- “It was just one dog, but Clare Balding was quite badly shaken. But it’s under control now, she’s been destroyed. The dog obviously, not Clare Balding” – a Crufts accident, as described by Alan Partridge
- “I know that the stage at the Lyceum, you could fit three Formula One cars side by side and still have space to dance around them” – Alan on his dreams for a Lewis Hamilton musical
- “It’s quite humbling the lengths that engineers went to so that ordinary road users, men and women, could avoid going into Birmingham. When I think about that I actually get quite choked up” – Alan on ‘Spaghetti Junction’
- “Lynn, it’s The Guardian, they’re hardly wolves! More like hamsters who vote Labour”
- “Their maxim ‘Who Dares Wins’ is one I apply in my own life. I find that if I do dare, whether it’s making a business decision, playing Jenga or suggesting dinner to a woman online, I do win!” – the SAS, ladies and gentleman