Alan Partridge Collection: 6 DVD

Certificate: 15

Producers: Armando Iannucci, Steve Coogan, Peter Baynham, Patrick Marber.

Stars: Steve Coogan, Felicity Montagu, Simon Greenall, Barbara Durkin, Rebecca Front, Phil Cornwell.

Released: 16 November.

Available at: HMV.

DVD: *****


A collection of cringe-laden crease-up moments which never disappoint.

Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci and Steve Coogan have a lot to answer for in great 1990s British comedy. First the conception of the superb yet outrageously un-politically correct media satire sketch shows, the BBC's The Day Today and the unashamedly controversial Brasseye - which then Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade demanded numerous edits of due to its insatiable mocking content before it was eventually dropped after just one series - and secondly the development of the hilarious Alan Partridge series'.

Conceived on BBC Radio 4 comedy show, On The Hour, Morris, Iannucci and Coogan launched the misfit character in 1991 and due to his unwavering popularity, allowed him a second series - excuse the later Partridge reference. But it was not until Coogan's character appeared on The Day Today as a bumbling fool sports reporter that he was given greater publicity and developed in to the landmark, that Partridge is today.

Given his own TV series and acting as an anchorman chat show host - desperately hoping for the charm and wit of Sir Terry Wogan and Sir Michael Parkinson but portraying a greater hap-hazard and cheesy resemblance to Clive Anderson - Partridge is a hopeless man on an even more hopeless quest on Knowing Me, Knowing You...with Alan Partridge to entertain and allure his guests and the public but instead persistently fail.

In Knowing Me, Knowing You - a reference to the love Alan has for the pop group ABBA and the song of the same name, while furthermore he aptly and appallingly names his son Fernando in light of the group's 1976 #1 UK hit - Partridge's first outing on TV as a character after The Day Today includes his own dubiously underwhelming and awful catchprase, "Knowing me, knowing you, a-ha!", in reference to ABBA and similarly amazes in his simultaneous hilariously cringey insults, jokes and presenting. 

Highlights of Knowing Me, Knowing You - abbreviated stupidly by Alan to KMKY...WAP - include a bizarre Question Time-like debate involving ridicule of Alan by a mock-slaphead member of the Bald Brummies party and an accidental shooting dead by Alan of a pompous restaurant critic, Forbes McAllister in the final episode; which leads to Alan's demise on TV and the end of his show.

But while 'KMKY...WAP' higlights Coogan and Partridge's inconsistencies in script and in the mockery of TV show hosting, the re-launch of the franchise in 1997 with I'm Alan Partridge and a second series airing in 2002, depicts Iannucci and Coogan embarking upon Partridge's golden-era.

In the opening series, Alan with a typical lack of humility, credibility and social skills, hopelessly re-launches his own career with a graveyard shift on Radio Norwich, attempting to schmooze corporate executives to help his own career but failing miserably including insulting Irish people referring to his love of U2, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday. It really encapsulates the frustration of a Sunday. The kids are running round, you've got to mow the lawn and you just think, Sunday bloody Sunday!"

Other cringeworthy comic gems from Iannucci and Coogan which continuously elude Alan by their true context, include, "I've been working like a Japanese Prisoner of war, but a happy one" and upon visiting a conference centre with dubious security, "The security is terrible in this place, I've just a booked a room under the name the Real IRA - I better tell them it's really me", highlights the versatile scripting craft to showcase Partridge as the indecent, cretinous social leper who inflicts abusive tirades and misery on his colleagues - the unrelentingly supportive and dependable Lynn (Felicity Montagu), Alan's Personal Assistant - and his one true friend - Michael (Simon Greenall), who initially works at the Linton Travel Tavern where Alan stays during the opening series before later working at a BP garage.

Alan's life includes numerous gags and comic scenes and even a meeting with an obsessed fan called Jed Maxwell and a Partridge-like sex-crazed individual called Dan.

But while the comedy is often nonsensical and almost predictably awful with another gaffe or superbly worked punchline to spectacularly fail by Alan only just around the corner, it is these points which make Alan Partridge and Coogan so undeniably irresistible in comedy. It may not be the cleverest and compare to the slick intelligence of The Day Today or Brasseye, but it never meant to and through its aspirational fame-craving wannabe protagonist, very rarely fails to deliver laughs.

Like Steve Coogan's fellow series, Coogan's Run, his characters have a habbit of being annoying, shameless, blinkered fools who know no bounds when it comes to smarm, stupidity and ridicule. That's why the Alan Partridge collection highlights how much of a gem both Alan and Coogan really are in modern British comedy.

DVD review: Comedy: Alan Partridge boxset