Cinema history is littered with more failed attempts to transfer British TV comedy from the small screen to the big screen than probably any of us would like to admit.

Whether it be the 70s, featuring the likes of On The Buses, George & Mildred and so on making the step up, or more recent fare like Bottom misfire Guest House Paradiso, the Bean sagas or Ali G InDaHouse , the films have proved instantly forgettable.

Which is all probably why I approached Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa with more than a healthy dose of trepidation.

But, thankfully, AP: AP not only avoids the pitfalls of its predecessors, it quite frankly stands head and shoulders above them.

The reason why is quite simple – rather than try and put the character in a new environment, like the tiresome ‘send the characters on holiday’ motif trudged out in the likes of On The Buses, Are You Being Served, Bean, The Likely Lads and endless other efforts, Alpha Papa sticks to Partridge being Partridge.

To be sure, the situation is heightened and more outlandish than usual, but nothing that strays too far from the successful formula of the series.

Partridge’s North Norfolk Digital radio station is on the cusp of a big-money takeover from a bunch of goons who fancy rebranding it as Shape, along with turfing out some of the old DJs.

Naturally Alan reckons he might be for the chop, so he pleads for his job with his new employers by suggesting they offload late-night DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) instead.

Partridge’s antics actually work, only for things to take a very severe turn for the worse when Farrell decides to respond to his sacking by marching in to the radio studio with a shotgun and holding the staff hostage.

Things then slide into classic Partridge territory when Farrell decides he will only talk to the police through Norwich’s finest (who Pat fails to realise stitched him up in the first place), leading to a sequence of hi-jinks, slapstick humour and truly cringeworthy moments.

Not all of the jokes work of course, but the gags keep coming so thick and fast that before you’ve had the chance to roll your eyes at a dud, a humdinger comes along.

Steve Coogan as you would expect is on fine form, losing his trousers, rattling out very un-PC gags and miming along to a cluster of 80s radio hits in vintage Partridge style.

And another plus point for the film is the lack of ‘hilarious’ cameos, so often trotted out to mask the lack of any real wit – instead the flick makes sure to include mainstays Simon Greenall as Michael and Felicity Montagu as AP sidekick Lynn.

Director Declan Lowney, a veteran of the likes of Little Britain and Father Ted, keeps things ticking over nicely, with a real lo-fi vibe that works massively in the film’s favour.

In fact, to surmise, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa feels like more of an extended TV episode than a full-blown feature film – and is all the better for it.

EXTRAS: Making of featurette, deleted scenes and bloopers

VERDICT: [rating=4]

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.