Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life - In The Press

Fans of Norwich radio legend Alan Partridge will be aware that he is no stranger to presenting corporate videos - but what happens when the corporate video presenters get their hands on Alan Partridge?

Written by Caroline Westbrook. Metro, 20th March 2014

With the hype building for August's Alan Partridge film, it's time to catch this magisterial comeback from Norfolk's infamous broadcaster, if you missed it last year. Steve Coogan's alter ego fronts an hour-long documentary about his home town which owes a debt to portentous history shows and chummy celeb travelogues. It's as funny as Partridge ever was, but pushes in new directions.

Jack Seale, The Radio Times, 30th March 2013

"If you don't do it, Sky will!" Alan Partridge once told BBC commissioning editor Tony Hayers. And now they did... although Inner City Sumo never made it to our screens, Alan bounced back to TV in triumphant style this year with the satellite broadcaster. Welcome to the Places of My Life, Alan's personal assessment of the Norwich area, was classic Partridge straight out of the top drawer - laced with classic anal attention-to-detail and "superb" direction from the Pear Tree Productions helmsman himself.

Tim Glanfield, Radio Times, 27th December 2012

Alan Partridge has been around for over 20 years, since he first began life as On the Hour's sports reporter. Watching his latest TV outing, he is still going as strongly (or rather tactlessly) as ever.

This is the first in a series of programmes featuring Steve Coogan's most famous character being broadcast on Sky Atlantic. Luckily, for those of us who don't have Sky Atlantic, this particular programme was repeated on Sky1, mostly in an annoying attempt to promote a channel lots of people can't afford to pay for.

Watching this, it's nice to see that some of the Partridge magic is still there. It's amazing that after so long there are still laughs that you can get out of it. In this mockumentary, he gives viewers a quick tour of Norwich, also known as "The Wales of the East".

Partridge is still as ignorant as ever. For example, he somehow managed to persuade his local leisure centre to get rid of a disabled parking space so he could park closer to the building. Then there is his rather disturbing description of the plague as "Flying AIDS."

My favourite moment, though, was when Partridge was in a swimming pool, talking about the sort of people who use it. Well, when I say favourite, I mean harrowing, because it was at this point I realised that I do actually think a bit like Partridge when I go swimming...

Welcome To The Places Of My Life was a great show. I just hope it and the others eventually get released on DVD, because I'm still not planning to buy Sky Atlantic.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 2nd July 2012

There was a glorious reprise for Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge. Older, yes; wiser, emphatically no. As he took us through the "places of my life" around Norfolk, yet again we marvelled at how his confident asides manage to combine the shiveringly banal with the roundly offensive. We started at North Norfolk Digital Radio. "Many are surprised at how small the offices are. But at 800 square metres that's larger than a good-quality dentist's, and could house a Tesco Express." Then Norwich town hall, opened in 1938 by King George VI, "the stammering monarch made famous by hit movie The King's Speech". And his favourite car dealership. "Whether you buy British, or have a short memory and are happy to buy Japanese..." and then the woods. "For some, Thetford Forest means dogging, or suicide. But I'm old-school, and I'm off for a walk." Not one sentence technically wholly untrue, but all supremely wrong, and the whole of it supremely right. It was a wistful, spot-on return for Alan and his leisureware, and at this rate he'll end up a kind of bathetic national treasure.

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 1st July 2012

A good week for sharp writing included Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life wherein Steve Coogan's chat chump took us on a personal tour which included his radio station ("My coalface, my canvas, my lathe"), the fitness centre ("A diet of Tracker Bars means I'm able to lead the kind of physically active life that's simply out of reach for many men my age such as Eamonn Holmes") and his favourite beauty-spot ("For some Thetford Forest means dogging and suicide but I'm old-school and I'm off for a walk!").

Aidan Smith, Scotland on Sunday, 1st July 2012

Sky Atlantic's Monday-night triple play kicked off with the return of Alan Partridge to TV, with the hour-long travelogue Welcome to the Places of My Life. It's hard to quote from the show, as pretty much every line was a winner. Even the throwaways - "I'm halfway through my Norfolk odyssey, but if you've just joined us, it'll still make sense" - struck home.

So it was that Alan took us round the places that made him who he is, from his desk at North Norfolk Digital's offices (at 800sq ft, larger than a good-quality dentist) to Thetford Forest: "For some it means dogging or suicide, but I'm old school and I'm going for a walk."

Coogan was note perfect: the glances to camera, the over-inflated ego, the strange belief that he is still living the life. Ruddy great stuff.

Robert Epstein, The Independent on Sunday, 1st July 2012

If you could forgive the hypocrisy of Steve Coogan selling out to his supposed nemesis Rupert Murdoch then Sky Atlantic was the place to be on Monday.

However, I found Welcome To The Places Of My Life, Coogan's latest Alan Partridge project, the least impressive of its three new comedies. It had some fine moments, but it just wasn't vintage Partridge.

I worry how much mileage the old guy has left, even if he does buy the new Range Rover (with the tan interior) in time for next year's movie.

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 30th June 2012

Some of the best bits of Welcome to the Places of My Life are when we get a sense of the cameras rolling for about four seconds longer than they should have done, just like in Knowing Me, Knowing You, Partridge's first TV outing, but also to what Steve Coogan himself is mocking - the overblown ceremony and rubbish incompetence of low-budget telly.

Written by Harriet Walker. The Independent, 30th June 2012

Make no mistake about it, Welcome was the funniest thing Alan Partridge has been involved with since 2002's dicey second series of I'm Alan Partridge.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 27th June 2012

Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life becomes Sky Atlantic's biggest-rated new commission.

Written by Ben Dowell. The Guardian, 26th June 2012

A look at some of Steve Coogan's comic creations.

The Daily Telegraph, 26th June 2012

Alan Partridge: Welcone To The Places in My Life a supremely funny one-off special in which Steve Coogan confirms his renewed mastery of one British comedy's greatest creations.

Kicking off Sky's new Monday night comedy schedule, it follows the embittered broadcaster on a typically banal odyssey through his beloved East Anglia, including visits to his North Norfolk Digital workplace, Norwich Town Hall, the local swimming baths - his butterfly crawl is hysterical - and a field full of sheep where, often for up to 45 minutes, he likes to imagine them as people who've wronged him in the past.

Presented within Alan's fictional universe as a self-financed vanity project, it's packed with the great lines and attention to detail we've come to expect from this character at his best. You know you're on safe ground with a fake documentary where even the credits, captions and graphics are jokes in themselves. And Coogan's performance is impeccable throughout.

Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 26th June 2012

"The more I learn about Hitler the more I dislike him," said Alan Partridge sagely in Welcome to the Places of My Life, his personal guide to "Albion's hindquarters", "the Wales of the East"- or Norfolk, as the rest of us know it.

Hitler had come up because of the Führer's plans to make Norwich Town Hall a centre of regional government in the event of a successful German invasion of England, a historical detail that Partridge the film-maker (his name was on the credits as "director") took as a cue to fade up an echoey Hitler speech as Partridge the presenter stared pensively out over Norwich market. He'd already done a priceless bit of Schama-ing inside the building - storming through the corridors as he vividly recreated the terrible night on which Norwich came within a whisker of getting a blanket imposition of night-time parking fees. And now here he was tackling Norwich's place in global history. Is there nothing this man can't handle?

Steve Coogan can probably now do Partridge in his sleep. The character is fully there, with all its tics and grace notes, from the little sideways skitter of the eyes at the camera that betrays his essential amateurishness to the wildly inappropriate grandiosity. "This is my coalface, my canvas, my lathe," said Alan, leading the camera into the microphone-rigged broom cupboard that is his centre of operations at North Norfolk Digital. If he wasn't such a creep there would be something almost heroic about his determination to finesse his come-down into a professional choice, and the eagerness with which he enlists any detail, however banal, to help him do it. Introducing us to the second of the significant locations in his life, the Riverside Leisure Centre, he noted that it "boasts a controversial swooped roof" and then unwisely conducted an in-pool interview with the resident hydrotherapist, his questions getting increasingly spluttery as his energy flagged.

Real Partridge purists, though, may have felt that offered an image of the programme itself, which started confidently but later had some difficulty keeping its head above water. It wasn't that it wasn't funny - there were wonderful moments all the way through. It was just that it was muddled and a little impure, in a way the Iannucci-scripted series almost never were. So, while you could certainly imagine a Partridge-directed documentary including his pontifications about how to make your own walking stick ("rather than one of those aluminium ones made in China by kids, I prefer a traditional one, made in Britain... by trees"), it was harder to work out why he would have included a shot of him drooling all over the Range Rover salesman. Both funny, but not quite funny in compatible ways. Which, I can quite see, may well come across as unnecessarily picky.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 26th June 2012

Alan Partridge's return for Welcome To The Places Of My Life took us on a test drive back to Knowing Me, Knowing You's glory years.

Written by Keith Watson. Metro, 26th June 2012

Egotistical, bombastic, bigoted, insecure, lonely, needy. Partridge remains a brilliant, monstrous, pathetic creation who can still raise a smile in his audience. If Partridge was once merely a figure of fun, he is now a character of true bathos, and Steve Coogan must take the credit for that.

Written by Ben Lawrence. The Daily Telegraph, 26th June 2012

Alan's latest outing, Welcome to the Places of My Life, is even stronger than it's been in previous programmes.

Written by Jack Sharp. On the Box, 25th June 2012

By rights, Alan Partridge should have been dead as a character years ago, the last drops of humour long since wrung out of the local radio presenter from Norwich, but Steve Coogan keeps finding ways to make him feel fresh.

It's not so much a reinvention as a layering process. Coogan knows we know Partridge, so he doesn't waste time or insult his audience by writing unnecessary scenes to re-establish his character: rather it feels as if we are starting where we last left off and the pleasure comes from Partridge continuing to reveal more of himself than he actually intended. As the cracks in his public persona widen, he becomes a genuinely darker, more complex, more interesting character. And more sympathetic - though that could say more about my attraction to the twisted.

The set-up was a parody of any number of early evening TV documentaries in which a minor celebrity fills an hour of screen time by pottering around some fairly dull places, talking to fairly dull people while trying to convince everyone it's all enormously interesting. On its own, this would have made good comedy, as there were also sideswipes at Bear Grylls' and Dan Snow's annoying presentational tics of adding drama to the tediously mundane. But with Partridge it's always what you don't expect that makes him so well worth watching. His piece about Norwich city hall that started off as a riff on The King's Speech and ended with him fantasising about Hitler making a victory speech from the balcony with the bronze lions below raising their paws in Nazi salutes was just wonderful.

There were any number of other great moments, such as Partridge taking over the fruit and veg market stall and saying: "I had a go at doing the things it's taken Mike 25 years to learn, and it was a piece of piss. But I like Mike. He's a sort of village idiot from years gone by"; or Partridge test-driving a Range Rover, saying: "I bet you think we just included this because I wanted to have a go in one"; you just know there are out-takes like these in every documentary maker's editing suite.

John Crace, The Guardian, 25th June 2012

We talk to Neil and Rob Gibbons, the writers behind a triumphant TV comeback for Steve Coogan's alter ego.

Written by Jack Seale. The Radio Times, 25th June 2012

A guide to the "Wales of the East", Norfolk, by the man who put Norwich on the chat map. Alan Partridge takes us to his workplace, his favoured newsagents and along his regular Thetford Forest walking route. It is, as the man himself says: ‎"A Partridge pilgrimage. A Partrimage. A Pilgrimartridge. A Partrimiligrimage." But he's also keen on Norwich's rich past, including Hitler's plan to give a victory address from the town hall balcony. Imagine that...

Partridge has evolved since Steve Coogan hooked up with co-writers Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons, architects of Alan's sensationally funny autobiography. He can be a vehicle for spoofery - the hysterical history-in-hindsight of Schama, Marr et al gets it in the neck - and, as credited producer/director, his editing hand is now visible.

But he's still thoroughly Partridgean. There's not a weak scene in the hour and many that are worth re-playing for superb nuances of script and performance, from the simple joy of Alan almost falling off a stile to some wordless moments of pathos that remind us he is almost real. Top drawer.

Jack Seale, The Radio Times, 25th June 2012

The comedian and actor reveals just how much of himself there is in his most famous comedy creation.

Written by Claire Webb. The Radio Times, 25th June 2012

Steve Coogan's enduring monster crashes in with a one-off special that starts with him huffing and puffing around the countryside of north Norfolk ('the Wales of the East') to the strains of a tin whistle. He's on a Partridge Pilgrimage to wax lyrical about his stomping ground and, much like everything else Coogan's done with the character, this spoof vanity project is hilarious and hideous in equal measure. Though grammar pedants will secretly sympathise with his radio campaign promoting the correct use of the words 'obligate' and 'repulse'.

Metro, 25th June 2012

The graceless chancer has morphed into a Daily Mail-addled misanthrope. But rarely has a comedy trajectory been so beautifully sustained - Partridge has reached the stage where a mere glimpse of his face, his strangely acrylic-looking hair, his 'man at C&A' wardrobe, is enough to render us helpless with laughter. But to the writers' eternal credit, they don't rest on their laurels. This venture doubles as a perfectly pitched parody of every self-indulgent heritage Britain doc you've ever seen. Partridge bestrides his beloved Norfolk, musing on market traders ('people living on the very fringes of society'), the possibility of Hitler addressing occupied Norwich from the balcony of City Hall and the plague ('very much the HIV of its day. But airborne... Flying Aids.') Alan, we salute you.

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 25th June 2012

In this exclusive clip from Alan Partridge's new Sky Atlantic show Welcome to the Places of My Life, he shows us round Norwich market. Where once there were 'bearskins and quivers', now there are 'monkey hats and tat'.

The Guardian, 25th June 2012

Alan bounces back with an hour-long special, the first of two for Sky Atlantic. In a note-perfect parody of the sort of lightweight travelogue prersented by Griff Rhys Jones, complete with cheapo graphics and amateurish editing, Welcome To The Places Of My Life sees Partridge providing a social history of the Norwich that made him. The concept drags a touch over the extended running time but there are many wonderful moments, especially the revelation that Partridge likes to imagine the sheep in a nearby field as people who have wronged him: "Andrew Marr, the Dimbleby brothers, loads of builders."

Gwilym Mumford, The Guardian, 24th June 2012

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