It’s fair to say that many an eyebrow was raised amongst the Partridge community (the Parmmunity, if you will) when plans were first heralded for a web series called Mid Morning Matters in the death throes of 2010.
“He doesn’t want to be on the internet” (we thought on his behalf)/ “We don’t want him on the internet” (we thought for ourselves, it was bad enough when he was on Radio 4)… “He wants to be on the telly” (we also thought for him, albeit without his permission) / “We want him to be on the telly” (we subsequently also thought to ourselves, in some cases out loud).
But very soon we had to eat our hats because Mid Morning Matters was pretty ruddy bloody good.
Anyway to cut a long story short, as Rudyard Kipling once said, if you do x, y and z… Bob’s your uncle, and before long the show was rescued from the dastardly internet and put back on telly where it belonged. As one Alan Gordon Partridge prophesied almost two decades ago; “if you don’t do it, Sky will” and they did. Packaging up the internet and popping it on Sky Atlantic (a channel that is less about fisheries, nautical affairs and the Azores than you might think).
Fast-forward a few years (plus a feature film) and Mid Morning Matters is back – and this time it’s been made especially for the delectation of Sky Atlantic viewers complete with adverts and everything. The best news, beyond it containing adverts (the hallmark of quality television) is that it is very, very funny.
“Yesterday I read out a text saying that oestrogen was a kind of gas used to blow up balloons,” says Alan as we are reunited with him and Sidekick Simon in the North Norfolk Digital studios. “Of course it isn’t, it’s a hormone used by women to perform a number of tasks, relating to, er, themselves…
Jurassic Park! We’re back in business.
A lot has changed in Alan’s world since we last saw him. He has a new girlfriend, Angela, who I don’t think the media mogul would mind me saying is a little more ‘homely’ than his previous squeeze, the Ukrainian prankster Sonja. I also think he’d forgive me for mentioning that Angela comes with ‘baggage’ in the shape of children, several of whom are interested in air rifles because they are from a “broken home.”
There’s a different MD at the radio station, Craig. He’s “like a one man Soda Stream” he’s “fizzing with ideas.” As Alan puts it, he’s: “20% Steve Jobs, 10% Jesus, 50% Peter Sissons, a splash of Gandhi (no need to measure that). If you were a quarter of the man he is, you’d be twice the man you are. And that still makes you an eighth of a very impressive man. And that’s not my opinion, that’s fractions.”
It is indeed Craig who allows Alan to experiment with filling the obvious gap in the market left by a dearth of drama on regional radio. The gap-filler, Alan and the Partridge Playhouse Player’s incredible production ‘Chill breeze, or a glowering glassblower this way comes’, an original work by Alan Partridge. Alan, never afraid to give credit where it’s due, admits that Mark Rylance auditioned for the lead part, and despite being very good eventually lost out to his good self.
But beyond the changes in Alan’s circumstances, one thing has remained the same – the sheer bloomin’ brilliance of the writing from Steve Coogan, Rob and Neil Gibbons and the delivery from Messrs Coogan and Key on screen.
From our discoveries that Alan’s perfect dinner party guests would be Jesus and the entire Thatcher family to asking what part of ‘multi-pack not to be sold separately’ corner shop fizzy drink purveyors don’t understand, this is vintage Partridge of the highest order.
Despite being completely confined to a radio studio (as per series one) debates about whether dogs have self-esteem and plots to kill Noel Edmonds in Hampton Court Palace keep you glued to your screen from beginning to end, laughing out loud and crying out for more.
With six episodes on this long-awaited second series, the Parmunnity (see first paragraph) can rest assured the wait has been worth it. Alan has once again bounced back!
Mid Morning Matters returns to Sky Atlantic at 10pm on 16th February