Reviewing a new Alan Partridge comedy is like supporting England in a penalty shoot out; there is no winning. I could watch this hour, tell you it is brilliant, and get “you would say that” taunts. Equally, it could be really bad, everyone agrees, and we’ll lose the memories of the greatest comedy character of the last twenty years.
Before going further, it is time for some praise for Sky. As we have seen increasingly over the last year, Sky continue to invest money to support and create new comedy, as well as bringing in top comedies from elsewhere too. Of course, this makes it more of a shame that anyone should have to miss out on this because of their financial situation, but as their reputation as a comedy supporter grows, hopefully more comedy fans will fork out and the cycle can continue. It’s the same principle as Comedy Central’s investment in Friends and Scrubs repeats, and subsequent commission of their first comedy, Threesome. Foster’s must also be lauded, much for the same reasons, and there is little doubt that Welcome To The Places Of My Life would not have been around if it was not for Mid Morning Matters.
So, with Steve Coogan’s Christmas card list sorted, let’s take a look at the comedy event of 2012 so far.
The obvious change from the seminal Partridge series sees Places of My Life created as a documentary, starring and narrated by Alan. This move allows us to see a new side to the character, as well as maintaining all of the tried and tested style when Alan branches off to do some presenting or tell a girl on a bicycle to “F Off”. Even more clever is that this allows us to have the comedy of the production values of the mockumentary; whether it is the unmuted jibes telling a Priest to hurry up, poorly edited-in busts as Alan struggles to stay afloat in the pool, or the Hitler speeches mixed over pictures of Norwich market. Essentially, this is a hilarious version of Francesco’s Venice set in Norfolk, or “the Wales of the East”.
Fighting back the urge to say perfect, Places Of My Life has it all. It is very reminiscent of the glorious Cricklewood Greats, but with all the history and humour of a character like Partridge, it tops even that; 2012 is certainly the year of the one-off comedy. More importantly than this hour though, tonight proves that Partridge has a future on television, and with the set-up devised for Places Of My Life, the possibilities are endless.
Here’s to Sky, Foster’s and Partridge. You would say that.