A lukewarm and semi-triumphant return, this is my verdict of This Time with Alan Partridge.
Before this new comedy show aired, I would have said that the great comedy character of Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan), was a bit of a Marmite figure, i.e. you either loved or hated him. For years, I had firmly been in the loved him camp. In fact, his series in the late 90’s entitled I’m Alan Partridge, is one of my favourite comedy shows of all-time.
With all this in mind, I am now going to completely contradict myself here with my view of his new BBC One show. As the ending credits rolled, I found myself in the rather unaccustomed position of thinking it was just O.K. I smiled throughout and even chuckled out loud at one point, however at no stage did I get hysterical with laughter.
I liked it without ever loving it. I guess I am guilty of comparing it to the hilarious I’m Alan Partridge series. It was noticeable in the credits that the amazing comedy writer Armando Iannucci, did not contribute to this first episode. He was one of the main writers of this earlier series of Partridge. Could it well be that without Iannucci, Partridge just is not as funny perhaps?
The premise of this new show took the form as a sort of parody of The One Show. With the regular male co-host away ill, this was Alan’s chance at the big-time once again by filling in for him. Alongside him, was the regular female co-host called Jennie Gresham (Susannah Fielding). Susannah acted her role brilliantly and it was important that her character was amusing in her own right too. Nevertheless, the key comment here is me saying that she was amusing rather than being hilarious.
Some of the gags were funny it must be acknowledged. Particularly amusing was when we met Alan’s overly nervous friend Simon Denton (Tim Key). His own segment of the show being ruined by him not being fully au fait with the technology surrounding the swipeboard and social media.
The segment about hand cleanliness was witty, with the highlight being the classic Partridge handshake at the end. Lynn (Felicity Montagu), was the star of the show though. I loved her fierce loyalty towards Alan still. I am speaking here of when she complained to him that Jennie had nicked two of his jokes. I also loved her little bitchy tale to Jennie, where she inferred that Jennie looked like a prostitute. The more we see of Lynn in this series then the better it will be.
Some other bits of the comedy writing did not work as well and bordered on the corny. I am thinking here of Alan’s demonstration about going to the loo on the train without using your hands. I did chuckle at the giraffe disguise of the computer hacker, however that was it as far as that segment was concerned. It was just trying that bit too hard to be funny for me.
Will I watch episode two? Of course, because it is Alan Partridge after all. However, this first instalment was not as funny as I thought it was going to be. I certainly do not concur with the view that is now held out there by some, that this is already one of the greatest TV shows of 2019.
This Partridge was only lukewarm as I said at the top, whereas I always prefer mine steaming hot. 4/5.