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

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test