×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brit Duo Draw Up ‘Alpha’ Rules

‘Alan Partridge’ makes a TV-to-bigscreen transfer, and avoids the standard route by keeping to its regional roots

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa,” a bigscreen version of a British comedy favorite, broke a lot of showbiz rules on the way to its Aug. 7 bow in the U.K.

For one thing, it’s not easy to translate a TV franchise into a bigscreen hit. For another, no concessions were made to the international marketplace in terms of casting, plot, script or location; the film is firmly set deep in provincial England.

According to co-creator Armando Iannucci, such concessions weren’t necessary, thanks to the eclectic history of the self-obsessed and oblivious title character, played by Steve Coogan. “I’ve never really seen Alan as a TV character,” he says. “He was a radio character and then a TV character. Then he was an online YouTube character, then he was a book character. He’s been a live stage character.”

Coogan first played Partridge 22 years ago on BBC radio’s news satire “On the Hour.” The character next appeared on the BBC TV series “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” an excruciatingly funny chatshow spoof that ran for six episodes. That was followed by 12 episodes of “I’m Alan Partridge,” starting in 1997. “Mid-Morning Matters,” an online series, consisted of 12 10-minute shows.

The movie, produced by Studiocanal and BBC Films in partnership with Coogan’s shingle Baby Cow, sticks to the show’s roots, unlike other Britcom-to-feature transfers like “Mr. Bean” and “Kevin & Perry Go Large,” which moved characters into international settings.

Iannucci (creator of HBO’s “Veep,” whose third season bows this fall), says, “It is not a film with overt global appeal. It is not ‘Alan Goes to America.’ ” Adds Coogan: “The worst thing you can do is try to water things down, and try to make them deliberately accessible. You lose the character’s DNA, and end up satisfying no one. It is better to be creatively pure.” The filmmakers hope this approach will find global appeal.

The bigscreen success of another Britcom transfer, “The Inbetweeners,” helped secure financing for “Alpha Papa.”

Alan Partridge is widely loved and admired in the U.K., and the local PR blitz is extensive. But in the U.S., Coogan is better known for his roles in such films as “Night at the Museum” and “Tropic Thunder.”

“It becomes debilitating if you spend too much time on that one character,” Coogan admits. “I didn’t want to feel I was doing the film out of desperation, but because I wanted to. I (didn’t want to) be accused of being a one-trick pony.”

Now that he’s established in other roles, it helps him come to terms with the gauche Partridge. “Having now made six fi lms with Michael Winterbottom, I felt I had self-respect as a creative person and as an actor,” he explains.

Though Coogan has plenty of options, that doesn’t mean he’s abandoning Alan Partridge. Iannucci, Coogan and three other writers on the film have plenty of fodder for other material for the character, meaning he is likely to be around in some form for a long time.

So the bigscreen version could be just one step in a long process.

“One of the good reasons to make the film,” observes Coogan drily, “was because it’s stopped people asking me if we were going to make the film.”

More Film

  • Danny Glover

    Danny Glover Joins 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' Sequel

    Danny Glover has joined the cast of Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sequel. His role is being kept under wraps, as is the storyline. Glover will star opposite Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, all of whom are set to return. Awkwafina is in final negotiations for a significant part in [...]

  • DJ Khaled Bad Boys

    DJ Khaled Joins 'Bad Boys' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    DJ Khaled has rounded out the cast of Sony’s upcoming “Bad Boys” sequel “Bad Boys for Life,” joining returning stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Khaled will also join series newcomers Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, and Paola Nuñez. Joe Pantoliano is on board to return as Captain Howard. Production is currently [...]

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON in Glass. M.

    M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' to Break January's Slow Box Office Streak

    No plot twist here: M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Glass” will dominate the domestic box office. As this weekend’s lone wide release, “Glass” looks to be the de facto choice for moviegoers during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Now the only question is: how big of an opening can “Glass” pull off? Mediocre reviews don’t [...]

  • Iranian Film Festival NY Review: 'Sheeple'

    Iranian Film Festival New York Review: 'Sheeple'

    The cinema of Iran has often been marked by stylistic qualities of delicacy and restraint. It has found ways to speak loudly with a whisper. But “Sheeple,” the traumatically explosive closing-night selection of 1st Iranian Film Festival New York, amounts to a rather spectacular counterexample. It’s a drama set in the lower depths of society [...]

  • Sundance Film Festival Placeholder

    Sundance Film Festival Launches Talent Forum for Indie Creators

    The Sundance Film Festival is launching a new program to offer industry mentoring to under-represented and indie creators, the festival announced Tuesday. Based out of Park City, Utah’s Kimball Art Center, the program will include focused mentoring for filmmakers, writers, producers, and beyond, as well as keynote events with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and [...]

  • Aisha Tyler

    Aisha Tyler to Host 2019 Directors Guild Awards

    The Directors Guild of America has selected Aisha Tyler to host its 71st annual DGA Awards on Feb. 2 at the Hollywood & Highland Center’s Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles. “We’re excited to have Aisha on board for the 71st annual DGA Awards,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme. “She is ideally suited to host [...]

  • Caleb Landry JonesNY Premiere of "Three

    Caleb Landry Jones Joins Ralph Fiennes in 'The Forgiven' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Caleb Landry Jones will co-star with Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, and Mark Strong in “The Forgiven.” John Michael McDonagh is directing the film, which is an adaptation of the novel by Lawrence Osborne. It deals with the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of an English couple, their friends and local Moroccans who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content