Alan Partridge might be in the middle of an unlikely career revival with This Time, but the bumbling broadcaster is always one calamitous cock-up from hitting rock bottom once again. And so it proves in this week’s brand new episode.
We’re barely two minutes into the latest instalment when Alan’s enormous ego starts to cause problems – visibly irked by the attention being paid to co-presenter Jennie Gresham’s engagement to Sam Chatwin (Simon Farnaby). “We couldn’t be more thrilled!”, he says through barely-gritted teeth. “The whole team has been as giddy as school girls – the St Trinian‘s types, not the modern type who edit their own faces.” Partridge’s simmering resentment marks an amusing start to one of This Time‘s best episodes to date.
Long-term fans will appreciate Lynn Benfield’s increased screen time in particular. During one standout moment, the long-suffering PA awkwardly breaks some unfortunate news to Alan, who is dressed as a cowboy: he’s been dropped from the cover of TV Times. In what appears to be a clever throwback to that mini-metro moment, Lynn explains that lovebirds Jennie and Sam have got the gig instead. It’s safe to say that Alan doesn’t take any of this well.
Elsewhere in the episode, Partridge stops overnight at a corrective institution for teenagers (or “borstal!”, as he loves to put it). The brief trip behind bars has him aiming for the no-nonsense attitude of Ross Kemp, but landing nearer Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector. In one particularly fraught moment, Alan tries to relate to the inmates with a bizarre gangland analogy that describes how ITV was first founded – not exactly on their wavelength.
And all this before a brilliantly bonkers finale which sees Jenny realising that Alan may or not be behind a mystery complaint about the amount of coverage given to her engagement on the show. It’s the perfect continuation of the deep-seated animosity between the two, and the biggest hint that Norfolk’s most inept newsman is about to screw it up once more. Don’t let us down, Alan.
- “Rumour has it that was the shoe worn by the horse that trampled that suffragette… it’s lucky because it hoofed women into suffrage” – Alan on giving a horseshoe to Jenny as an engagement present.
- When asked by Lynn if he’d like to contribute to a magazine piece about Jennie and Sam’s engagement: “Absolutely not. That’s like asking Jesus to give Judas a big Easter egg”
- “When it comes to the battle with my waistline, I’m waving the white flag”
- “The only porridge served at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, or the only piping hot coffee, is the hot coffee thrown in your face by a troubled teenager with a rubbish dad” – Alan on his visit to a young offender’s institute.
- When confronted by his prison cell accommodation: “It’s not like the Ritz, to be fair. It’s more like a Marriott”