BBC2: PREMIERE Saturday 16 May, 9.20pm
Steve Coogan as North Norfolk Digital’s finest, called in to mediate when sacked DJ Colm Meaney holds hostages after a corporate media takeover. Pedantic even under pressure, Alan Partridge is more interested in negotiating for the breakfast show. The endlessly inane chat show host remains Coogan’s most memorable creation, a spectacularly tactless, egocentric fool entirely unmindful of his insensitivity: “Never, ever citicise Muslims, only Christians. Jews, a little bit.” This spikily scripted comedy isn’t action-packed, Hot Fuzz fashion, but it does steer a steady course between clever and crass. Maybe not back of the net. But excellent small talk. Coogan’s writing partner Armando Iannucci, creator of In the Loop and its American equivalent Veep, said they didn’t want Alpha Papa to be a Holiday on the Buses type of spin-off: “We wanted to make it true to Alan.” Mystifyingly, several UK critics cited Dog Day Afternoon as an influence but, clearly, the blueprint is Airheads. In the Loop follows at 11.45pm and, for a taste of Coogan’s versatility, sample Philomena,Sky Movies Select, Monday at 8pm. Keep those Baftas coming!