The Alan Partridge movie ‘Alpha Papa’ has been in the works for years (since 2005 to be exact) with the story going through several bizarre iterations, according to star Steve Coogan.
Talking to Yahoo! Movies, he ran us through some of the rejected ‘Partridges’.
“[We had] Alan accidentally rescuing a Saudi Prince who fell over, and Alan helped him up and for some reason was seen as saving his life. Then he’s invited over to this Arabic country where he finds he’s befriended… you know the film ‘The Last King Of Scotland’? We thought it would be funny if Alan became friends with a brutal dictator. And Alan’s there as [he’s] murdering people… but Alan’s too scared to point out that perhaps he shouldn’t murder people. But then we thought that’s too silly, that’s too outlandish.”
Coogan also elaborated on another outrageous plot idea that was doing the rounds for a while.
“Maybe if Alan was at the BBC and the BBC Television centre got taken over by Al-Qaeda? Then we thought that might actually happen and that wouldn’t be funny anymore.” Thankfully the siege idea was moved to Norfolk.
“Eventually you just think ‘Let’s try and make it, don’t go too silly, keep it small.’ So we thought we’ll keep it in Norwich, keep it in Norfolk. Not take it to America or London or anything, just keep it there. And then have something quite big happen, just in that locale.”
Writers Rob and Neil Gibbons came into the project much later, when the “siege in Norfolk” idea was already set, but they still considered several subplots that never made the finished film.
They said: “In one incarnation Alan was doing a lot of online dating. A lot of online dating. In another version he had been invited to pitch at the BBC and got there very excited and was shown into a room. It was a massive room with hundreds of people and it was clearly just an open day that they’d sent out to their whole mailing list. But that sort of felt like Alan was still grasping for his shot at TV stardom.
“Whereas a better starting point for the film was Alan being in quite a content place and the events of the film awaken him to this sort of latent ambition that he always had. I think we settled quite quickly on the radio station siege because it gives Alan an environment in which to broadcast in incredibly high pressure. You know, it felt like the natural place to take him that felt cinematic, that still felt true to his roots.”
One scene that was seriously considered was a sequence which saw Alan escape the scene for a date.
“Pat [the instigator of the siege played by Colm Meaney] insisted that he wouldn’t forgive himself if Alan didn’t pursue this potential relationship, but he had to come back in. So he was going to keep an eye on him. It was a restaurant over the road from the radio station. So Pat could see what was going on. Alan sat down at the table and realised that the woman opposite him wasn’t the woman he was supposed to go on a date with. Turned out she was a cop in a wig. But Pat didn’t know that.”
To see what did make the final cut, check out ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ when it’s released in the UK on 7 August. Watch a clip from the film below.