The Diary: Alan Partridge; Jesse Eisenberg; Nick Relph; Wonderland; Christian Marclay's The Clock

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The Independent Culture

Back on the net

"Corporate whores, morons, illiterates". So Stewart Lee branded those involved in the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy God poll back in July. The "banal" (Lee's word) survey was an inauspicious start for the lager brand's comedy sponsorship programme but now Foster's has pulled off an undeniable coup, securing the new series of Alan Partridge to screen exclusively on its website. The 12 short episodes, Mid-Morning Matters with Alan Partridge, will stream on over the next few months.

As part of its commitment to the artform, including sponsorship of the Edinburgh Comedy Award, Foster's aims to build its website into a Funny or Die equivalent, with clips from around the world as well as commissioning new content. Steve Coogan and his co-writer Armando Iannucci are the first to take the Amber pound. The opening 11-minute episode, released last Friday, showed Partridge (still played by Coogan, still wearing a pastel windcheater) presenting his radio show on North Norfolk Digital and preparing to interview Anthea "the body" Turner. Last year's Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Tim Key made his debut as regular "Sidekick Simon" while up-and-comer Will Andrews guest starred as a fitness guru.

"Foster's is serious about comedy," says David Jones, a spokesman for Heineken UK, who commissioned the films in conjuntion with Coogan's company Baby Cow.

"There are no plans to put the series on television." Shame. Future episodes will see Partridge grapple with Twitter, taste English wines (not lagers?) and conduct a poll in to "the greatest person Norfolk has ever produced". Cashback, as Alan would say.

The drugs network

Having played the spiky savant and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg next takes on a role somewhat out of leftfield. In Holy Rollers the 27-year old actor plays Sammy Gold, a Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn who becomes a wide-eyed, and wholly unlikely, drugs mule. The indie film has no UK release date yet, but in the meantime the Jewish Film Festival has secured its premiere over herewith a screening next Thursday at The Phoenix cinema in East Finchley, London.

Flights of fancy in Bethnal Green

A super-cool crowd descended on East London's Herald Street Gallery to see Nick Relph's new exhibition at the weekend. For his first solo show, the artist has draped four aeroplane models in hand-dyed fabric in an echo of the notorious 1997 rebranding of BA, which so offended the former PM Margaret Thatcher that she felt compelled to cover the designs with her hanky. Spotted at the private view were comedian Stephen Merchant and Alexis Taylor, of Hot Chip. "Nick's an old friend of the gallery," Nicky Verber, Herald Street's director, tells me. "So he always attracts a nice crowd."

Wonder women

You'd think he'd have his hands full with Tesco Mary and Wagner but Louis Walsh, twinkly Irish pop impresario, is about to launch a new girl band, with a little help from Westlife's Kian Egan. The quintet, Wonderland, have already supported Westlife on tour and will release their debut album in March. This Saturday their bid to become the new Girls Aloud starts in earnest with a two-part special after The Xtra Factor on ITV2. The girls were apparently chosen from 3,000 hopefuls at auditions in 2008. One of them, though, must have had an easier run than most: ex-Hollyoaks star Jodi Albert is also known as Mrs Egan. The pair got engaged on Christmas Day, in 2007.


Anyone with a few spare minutes should head down to White Cube, Mason's Yard this weekend for the final hours of Christian Marclay's The Clock. The mesmerising 24-hour video work charts the passage of a day in real time using tens of thousands film clips where the time is shown, or characters look at a clock or watch. When I called in, Grayson Perry was settling in for an hour or so on the comfy sofas. This weekend the Piccadilly gallery is open around the clock, until the show closes tomorrow at 6pm.