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TV review: Alan Partridge - Welcome To The Places of My Life
Alan Partridge - Welcome To The Places Of My Life - Image. Sky
Norwich's most famous son is (bouncing) back with a two-part special "made in co-production with the Norwich Chamber of Commerce" which takes us around his favourite daily destinations and stop-offs.
Too many to mention, but finding out Partridge reads The Daily Mail was a great touch. "If you buy The Guardian you get a free bottle of water," says the shopkeeper. "Yeah, but you also get The Guardian," laughs Alan. Make of that what you will.
Some sections are a little slower than others - what was that bit with the vicar about? - but the only disappointment is we won't be getting a full series. I suppose we'll have to make do with a movie.
Alan Partridge hasn't been seen on our television screens for nearly a decade, but I still can't ask for cashback at the supermarket without thinking about the socially-inept radio presenter.
Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and actually do the impression, which gets me very strange looks from the supermarket staff.
Partridge fans will be getting a few new soundbytes to enjoy now though, because the politically-incorrect D-List
"The narration also sees him swinging between melancholy and glorious pomposity"
celebrity is returning for a couple of Sky Atlantic one-off specials to introduce us to Norwich ("and it to us").
A steady stream of hilarious promo clips reassured that this piece wasn't going to be a monumental let-down.
As Partridge greets us by describing Norfolk as "Albion's hindquarters or simply the Wales of the East" you just know this is going to be a triumph.
The way Steve Coogan brings the character to life so effortlessly also demonstrates how entwined the two of them are (did anyone else think he was going to shout 'AHA!' during the Leveson enquiry?).
Partridge might be a D-Lister in his own world, but he is basically comedy royalty as far as I'm concerned, and Sky have pulled off a mini-masterstroke by getting him on their schedule.
There's also a bit of character development to enjoy here. Alan is still a self-important, mildly-racist pedant, but he now has biographical edge which gives Welcome To The Places Of My Life real pathos.
Large parts of this feel closely related to his novel I Partridge, We Need To Talk About Alan, especially if you listened to it on audiobook (which I strongly recommend) and it also has the air of a warm-up act for next year's movie, in which we'll be seeing him take on a mighty media corporation.
"Alan's awesome new penchant for over-egging words that begin with 'W'"
Apart from highlighting Alan's awesome new penchant for over-egging words that begin with 'W' ("hwhat, hwhy, hwhen"), the narration also sees him swinging between melancholy and glorious pomposity.
At one stage he stands by a field of sheep, pretending that each of them is a person who's wronged him in the past. "That one's Andrew Marr, those are the Dimbleby brothers... and they're just various builders" he says mournfully, waving his hand a flock in the distance.
Other highlights include his impromptu castigation of an old, wheelchair-using school-teacher and his visit to the local market where he insults the stall-owners and, in a vintage moment, describes the plague as "Flying Aids!".
The vignette at Norwich Council Buildings is pure poetry though. Partridge starts by explaining that the local population suffers from 'blacklack' before going on to lampoon David Starkey and finally, he claims that if Hitler had won the war, he'd have given his victory speech from the balcony of Norwich town hall.
A few online videos aside, we viewers haven't seen this serially-quoted regional celebrity for nearly 10 years, but it's like he's never been away. Welcome back!
Verdict: first class
TV quotes of the week - Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life
"People usually associate Thetford Forest with dogging or suicide, but I am old school."
"The more I learn about Hitler, the more I dislike him. He was mad!"
"I tried doing the job that Mike had been doing for twenty five years and it was one of the easiest things I've ever done in my life.."
"These people may look like retired pirates, but they're actually former mayors of Norwich."
"I'm no tree-hugger - I think it's inappropriate - but I am sometimes tempted to pat one on the back."
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