A-ha! The return of Alan Partridge

As the man who put Norwich on the map prepares to tell his story, Matt Chorley charts his rise (and fall) from talk show to travel tavern
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The Independent Online

As life stories go, it's almost too good to be true. Alan Gordon Partridge was bullied at school but went on to become one of Britain's most extraordinary broadcasters. From his early days as a sports reporter for The Day Today to trailblazing online radio, Norwich's fourth favourite son is about to have his story told, in a new memoir, I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan.

Most renowned for his chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Partridge struggled to recover after accidentally killing a guest on his famous sofa, with a pistol that once belonged to Byron. When his marriage ended and hopes of a second series were dashed, he settled into life at Linton Travel Tavern while broadcasting the early-bird slot on Radio Norwich.

Things turned around when he met his girlfriend Sonia, some 14 years his junior, with whom he had sex at least twice a day. Publisher HarperCollins says the book – actually written by Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Rob Gibbons and Neil Gibbons – will reveal the truth about the time Partridge got locked in the boot of a Rover 800 when an experiment went wrong, lay bare just how much he could fit on his big plate at the all-you-can-eat buffet and hit out at thick people at the BBC. The life story of the creator of The Ladyboy drink – lager with a Baileys, and gin-and-tonic chaser – will be published in October, to coincide with the TV transmission of Mid Morning Matters, the online series which marked the first new Partridge material for almost a decade. Partridge will also appear in a film next year.

It is not the first time the Partridge story has been told. Bouncing Back, the spoof account of his nervous breakdown which culminated in a barefooted drive to Dundee after gorging on Toblerone, tanked in the book sales chart. It was pulped like "word porridge", despite being described as "lovely stuff". Not my words – the words of Shakin' Stevens.

Alan Partridge on being bullied at school

"This has been hanging in the air for about 30 years. Steven McCombe called me Smelly Alan Fartridge because he thought it was funny. My personal hygiene was never in question. I showered regularly. I didn't smell. The question is, what is Steven McCombe doing now? He is a forklift truck driver for British Leyland. I have parked my car outside his house and watched him come and go. He has got a sad and pathetic life. And I am Alan Partridge."

On Ireland

"Bucktoothed simpletons with eyebrows on their cheeks... horses running through council estates... men in platform shoes being arrested for bombings... badly Tarmac-ed drives in this country."

On the Irish famine

"If it was just the potatoes that were affected ... you will pay the price if you're a fussy eater. If they could afford to emigrate then they could afford to eat in a modest restaurant."

On women

"I was repellent to women for two years."

On vandals

"Scum ... sub-human scum."

On using food in the bedroom

"Mousse from a bowl is nice but to put it on a person is demented."

On divorce

"The best thing I ever did was get thrown out by my wife. She's living with a fitness instructor. He drinks that yellow stuff in tins. He's an idiot."

On his dream home

"My five-bedroom bastard house."

On having fun

"I wish I'd been a bit more spontaneous, you know. Sometimes I feel like just going out and stealing a traffic cone, putting it on my head and saying 'look at me, I'm a giant witch'."

On Wings

"They're only the band the Beatles could have been."

On farmers

"If you see a lovely field with a family having a picnic, and there's a nice pond in it, you fill in the pond with concrete, you plough the family into the field, you blow up the tree and use the leaves to make a dress for your wife, who's also your brother."

On being a bloke

"I was drunk, I woke up this morning asleep on the sink. I'd been asleep for eight hours like that. Got up, walked downstairs, straight downstairs. Had breakfast, didn't even wash my hands. 'Cause I'm a bloody bloke."

On his PA, Lynn

"Lynn's a good worker, but she's a bit like Bert Reynolds. Very reliable, but she's got a moustache. Bit like ladyboys. Looks like a woman, but really it's a man. I mean, I don't find them attractive, just confusing."

On music

"'Big Yellow Taxi' by Joni Mitchell complains 'They paved paradise to put up a parking lot', a measure which actually would have alleviated traffic congestion on the outskirts of paradise, something Joni fails to point out, perhaps because it doesn't fit in with her blinkered view of the world."

On gay couples

"God created Adam and Eve. He didn't create Adam and Steve."

On health

"There is a schoolboy humour that surrounds bodily functions and I don't think there should be. I am very happy to say that I try to maintain a healthy anus. I am largely successful. There is the odd mishap but the law of averages is you are not going to get it right every time."

On the art of anecdotes

"In 1975 I was catching the London train from Crewe station. It was very crowded. I found myself in a last-minute rush for the one remaining seat with a tall good-looking man with collar-length hair. It was the Seventies... Buckaroo... When I sat down on the chair I looked up and realised it was none other than Peter Purves. It was the height of his Blue Peter fame. He said: 'You jammy bastard' and quick as a flash I replied 'don't be blue, Peter'. Needless to say, I had the last laugh."

On crime

"If I was a burglar and wanted to avoid detection I could strap sausages to my fingers. Probably survive a couple of break-ins before it started to fall apart."

On the Linton Travel Tavern

"There's never any graffiti in the hotel. Although in the Gents I did see someone had drawn a lady's part. Quite detailed. The guy obviously had talent, that's the tragedy."

On his best Valentine's Day

"Went to Silverstone. Shook Jackie Stewart's hand. Superb. My marriage fell apart soon after that."

On the death penalty

"For treason and murder."

On discussing sex with his son, Fernando

"Your mum and I, we did it everywhere... in the lounge, in the hall, behind a large boulder on Helvellyn on my birthday. Actually, that is where you were conceived. Well, we just didn't take precautions. No! No, we were delighted. Well, I mean, at first I was mortified but, then you were born and we grew to like you. I remember I left a tartan flask up there. One of those very fragile ones with the screw-on cup/cap. These days they're much more resilient. They took the technology from Nasa, basically, which is extraordinary. Modern flasks today are directly linked with the Apollo 11 space mission."