Years ago, Alan Partridge pitched a show called Alan Attack to the BBC. Now, in 2013, Alan is under attack, in the feverishly awaited Partridge movie, Alpha Papa. The trailer finally hit the internet today, giving us our first glimpse of the chat-based carnage that ensues when one of Alan’s North Norfolk Digital colleagues goes postal and takes over the station.
Having spent days on set in both London and Norwich, we’re able to provide a few insights into what to expect. So buckle up tight and prepare for Alan’s toughest challenge yet. Let’s hope he brought his big plate.
Another day, another instalment of Mid-Morning Matters, the digital radio show that boasts such features as Alan Describes Art, Word Scramble and Gender Thrash. It also has some killer music, as selected by Partridge. In this trailer, you hear what appears to be a muzak version of Daft Punk’s Around The World, plus Queen’s One Vision. Our spies tell us that the film itself might well feature Roachford’s Cuddly Toy and John Farnham’s You’re The Voice.
The exterior of North Norfolk Digital. About half of the shoot took place in this building, which is actually in Mitcham, South London. Note the Shape logo above the door — it’s the rebranding of the station that kicks off all the trouble in the first place. “Shape’s logo is ‘The way you want it to be’,” reveals Coogan. “It’s the kind of meaningless guff that marketing dicks come up with. I hate that stuff.”
Alan’s new car, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a Kia. Hopefully this one won’t end up with “Cock Piss Partridge” written on the side.
Meet Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney), the station’s late-night DJ. “His show is quite sedate and folksy,” says Meaney. “The media corporation who take over want to make the station hip and modern, so Pat’s the first to go.”
“I was having a fascinating conversation with Norfolk’s most suntanned child.” More prime banter courtesy of the king of chat. By his side, of course, is Sidekick Simon (Tim Key), who also gets caught up in the siege. “He’s usually about a metre away from Partridge during the film,” reveals Key. “And I’d say at the maximum he probably gets about 20 metres clear.”
This shit just got real. Yes, that’s an actual gun being fired, the first in Partridge history since Alan accidentally shot to death restaurant critic Forbes McAllister in 1994.
Following an emergency summit with the police, Alan heads back into the building to negotiate with Pat. He’s like Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator, only without the tact. Or the patience. Or the intelligence. This may not end well.
More guns! Alpha Papa will have fun tweaking action-movie conventions, on a suitably tiny scale. “Alan would love nothing more than to be James Bond or Bruce Willis,” says co-writer Rob Gibbons. “There’s too much of a temptation to resist going into those areas, and do them in an Alan way. But you still have to keep it parochial. You have to keep it Norfolk.”
Here we’re looking out of the roadshow bus that Pat and Alan commandeer in the second half of the movie. If you look very closely, you might be able to spot Empire — we’re an extra in this scene. Note the banners (ones not seen here include “North Norfolk welcomes careful gunmen”, “Like a Pat out of hell” and “Double barrel Farrell”) being waved by the crowd.
The nefarious boss of Shape, Jason Cresswell, played by Four Lions’ Nigel Lindsay. “The villain of this movie is not the man with the shotgun,” hints producer Kevin Loader. “Cresswell is very, very macho and an economic Darwinian, basically.”
With the siege underway, poor Sidekick Simon has become the subject of even greater indignities than usual. “Pat’s just got a little tasty with a number of people, including me,” says Key. “Sidekick Simon is having a miserable time — he’s taped to a chair while wearing a specially adapted gaffer-taped helmet with shotgun attachment.”
Chief negotiator Alan Partridge steps into action. Despite having a rope tied around his waist so he can’t run away, and a clunky headset, he’s maintaining dignity at all times.
As well as being a master of air bass, Alan is highly skilled at air machine gun too. “He does fire a real gun,” teases director Declan Lowney. “That was an amazing scene to shoot.”
And here’s Alan with that gun. He’s on Cromer Pier in Norfolk itself, in a very tight spot indeed. The production’s visit to Cromer caused quite a stir, with the local newspaper running a breathless piece describing Alan as “A-ha-med and dangerous”.
In just 145 seconds, this trailer features several new Partridge catchphrases, including “I am siege-face”, “Welcome to big school” and “Clobber!” The full film could boast thousands. “At a certain point, we started having fun thinking things up just to make people say them,” admits Coogan. “’Jurassic Park’ was one of those. And ‘Back of the net!’”
This year’s other big releases may have space battles, dragons and robots, but do they have Alan Partridge inside a toilet? No. No, they don’t. “That was a tough scene to get through,” laughs Colm Meaney. “His face was just sitting down there in the toilet bowl, and I couldn't get through my lines.”
It’s Lynn, Alan’s long-suffering assistant, as played by the wonderful Felicity Montagu. Also back is…
The inimitable Michael (Simon Greenall), the dim-witted but loveable Geordie who’s now in charge of North Norfolk Digital’s security. “He’s moved up in the world since the petrol-station days,” says Greenall. “It gives him a chance to show he’s a coward once again.”
The Alpha Papa teaser trailer promises “heavy kissing” as well as guns, and here’s the shot to prove it. The fact that Alan and the mystery woman appear to be snogging in a toilet does not detract from the romance.
For much more on Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, pick up the next issue of Empire, on sale June 25.