I’ve never seen Coogan better or Partridge funnier: This Time with Alan Partridge reviewed Plus: BBC Three’s Jerk feels like a state-approved lesson in how to empathise with the marginalised

Second coming: Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge
Second coming: Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge

Steve Coogan is back as Alan Partridge but frankly who cares? Like Ali G, I’ve long thought, he’s one of those ‘classic’ 1990s comedy characters funnier in recollection than ever he was in reality. He should have been confined to brief sketches — like Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield mostly did with their cheesy has-been DJs Smashie and Nicey — not cruelly exposed in endless TV series where you’ve got the joke in the first five minutes and the rest is pure cringe.

Actually, though, This Time with Alan Partridge (BBC1, Mondays) is genuinely funny, clever and enjoyable because finally he has scriptwriters who don’t hate him. For his original writers — Patrick Marber, Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham — Partridge was little more than a spitoon in which to hawk all their metropolitan liberal prejudices about parochial, clumsy, racist, sexist Little England. As proper, successful, high-minded talents in grown-up TV and theatre, they looked down on Partridge, a loser in mere local radio who voted — ew — Tory. So there was never a need to understand him; he was there purely to be tortured like some disabled kid who has got it coming because he’s wearing a Maga hat.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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