In the glorious tradition of Ealing Studios comes a homegrown comedy displaying all the qualities of Englishness.
There’s the hapless hero, a perfectly decent villain, policemen (and women) who take themselves too seriously and a situation not unlike Dog Day Afternoon, except this is Norwich.
Alan, of the Partridge family, is a DJ on local radio.
Those who have followed his many TV incarnations don’t have to be reminded that the expression “foot in mouth” was coined with him in mind.
He’s a special kind of fool, unaware of his tactless assault on other people’s sensibilities and convinced that, but for the prejudices of pumped up execs and white collar wimps, he could be a national treasure.
The presenter of the late night slot, Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) is considered too old, too scruffy and too Irish by the new owners of the station and “let go.”
He is not amused and, armed with a shotgun, takes the CEO and a number of ex-colleagues hostage. There is a massive stand-off, during which Alan, against his better judgement – which is to keep running – agrees to act as mediator.
If Alec Guinness’ criminality in The Lavender Hill Mob was seen as a charming quirk of character, so too is Pat’s act of defiance. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. Or would he? Alan takes the toilet window route and doesn’t wait to find out.
The man in the Partridge suit, Steve Coogan, has been granted immunity from criticism as one of television’s sitcom stalwarts.
On the big screen he has the time and space to expand Alan’s love affair with fame. He is Everyman, only worse. And we love him for it.
The structure, pace and, above all, heart of Alpha Papa may feel retro compared with Seth Rogen’s manic modernity (Pineapple Express, This Is The End) and Simon Pegg’s robotic pub crawl (The World’s End), but is funnier.
Fans of Tony Hancock, Danny Kaye and John Cleese will feel they are not forgotten.