Alan Partridge: Norwich's most famous son returns for Alpha Papa premiere

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Norwich dusts off the red carpet for the return of the prodigal Alan Partridge

It can be safely said that world premieres are a rarity at Norwich’s Hollywood Cinema. It was therefore fitting that the venue should finally get its own dubious slice of glamour courtesy of Norfolk’s – sorry, North Norfolk’s – most famous son, Steve Coogan’s fictional DJ Alan Partridge.

As the shameless comedy character “came home” for the debut screening of his new film, Alpha Papa, today’s gala event was held – in true Partridge fashion – amidst an unloved 1960s shopping precinct, and at the unglamorous time of 12.15 on a Wednesday afternoon.

For a town and a county used to being the butt of jokes, was this taking things a bit too far, or would residents be proud to revel in Partridge mania?

Click here or on "View Images" for more pictures from the premiere

Judging by those who had camped out since the early hours of the morning, some were only too keen.

They were rewarded when Coogan arrived, in-character as the hapless Partridge, wearing a pale-blue, short-sleeved safari suit replete with buckle and pink tie. “This is my love letter to Norwich,” he told the 1,000-strong crowd. Appearing in the city thanks to a Twitter campaign by fans, he added: “The people have spoken in the biggest petition since the clinic started handing out johnnies to 13-year-olds; £4m has gone on this film, which could have gone to a brand-new antenatal unit or Help for Heroes, but we spent it on this film.”

It remained difficult to quite know where the genuine naffness of the situation merged with the contrived naffness created by Coogan and his PR team. A life-sized sculpture of a gorilla bearing Partridge’s face was on display, while a bearded man wandered around with a small and bewildered-looking owl – in a nod to an episode in which the DJ takes a date to a local owl sanctuary. There was even graffiti which said “Smell My Cheese” on an opposing car park wall.

But Partridge fever has now gripped the East Anglian city, with tourism officials launching a tour of filming locations.

Donna Thompson, 53, who was born in South Africa but has lived in Norwich for eight years, told The Independent of her glee at securing a kiss from Partridge on the red carpet. “I just asked him for a kiss and he was a real gentleman and just gave me one,” said the self-styled poet, model and actress – dressed in a leopard-print dress and Zulu headpiece.

Not everyone was overawed by all the razzmatazz. One gentleman sitting outside a shop, who preferred not to be named, said: “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’ve never heard of him.” But Rob Wilkes, who organised the campaign to bring the event to Norfolk, said: “Visit Norwich told us they’ve had a massive increase in people contacting them and wanting to visit the city on the back of this campaign. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek but it’s a good thing for Norwich.”

It remains to be seen whether some of the locations used in the film will become as famous – or infamous – as the Thamesmead Estate did through its part in A Clockwork Orange. But as the punters left the cinema, they felt the film would certainly do no harm. Glynis Clark, 57, who owns a local B&B, said: “Because it was local, it was great fun. He is cringe-making, yes, but he raises the profile of Norwich and Norfolk which is great.”

Despite the display of local love, Coogan did not watch the film in the 400-seat cinema but instead flew back by helicopter to London for a second showing.

Partridge once said: “Go to London, I guarantee you’ll either be mugged or not appreciated.” Even with his swift departure, it was obvious which city appreciates him most.

Alpha Papa review: Alan succeeds in his transition to the big screen with a medley of Partidgeisms

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?