Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

A cocktail of negative qualities – Who Is Alan Partridge?

Alan Partridge himself (by Benabomb (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Alan Partridge is enjoying the peak of his career. Countless interviews, TV appearances, radioshows and now he’s got a feature film – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

What’s the reason behind his popularity?

For those who’s not in the UK, Alan Partridge is a fictional character (radio host, TV presenter, etc.) created about twenty years go by the British comic Steve Coogan. Alan is quintessentially British as his dry humor, awkwardness in social conduct and cockiness that is poorly hiding his insecurities. Other qualities make him specifically Partridge – he’s hardly able to concentrate on anything but himself, he uses others for personal gains without giving it a second thought and he’s been a bachelor for years – well who could possibly stand this self-obsessed man for longer than a date but his patient, all-forgiving PA, Lynn.

To summarise, Alan is an insufferable jerk, especially considering his attitude to his friend Pat in the new film, so why are the audiences find him interesting? Why is he a celebrity?

Short answer – because he is funny. I have another theory. Alan Partridge is a mirror of an average British man. A mirror prone to illuminate and show off all the bad qualities. We see parts of ourselves in this mirror and think, well, at least, we are not as bad. If he’s got away with his nastiness, then we are not that bad after all. Alan makes us more accepting who we are. In this respect, Alan Partridge could become a global phenomenon. What limits his appeal to international audiences is that he is too British in terms of him using countless British cultural references. The only way for him to expand is to travel abroad. But then we don’t need a second Borat or ‘Mr Bean on a holiday’, do we? So, Partridge should remain quintessentially British, it’s his identity.

Some people say they won’t watch a film with an unlikeable protagonist. Well, Alan is a cocktail of negative qualities, but he knows it, he just can’t help himself. He’s weak like many of us, so all he can do to counter-balance this is to make people laugh, which he does well. Watch the film and see for yourself.


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