Steve Coogan gives Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa update (Exclusive)

Orlando Parfitt
(Credit: Jeremy Durkin/Rex Features)

Steve Coogan said he was hoping to buck the trend of UK sitcoms becoming “rubbish” movies with Alan Partridge film ‘Alpha Papa’.

Some of TV’s less-than-successful adaptations include ‘Rising Damp’, ‘Dad’s Army’, ‘Are You Being Served?’, ‘Keith Lemon: The Film’ and ‘Steptoe and Son Ride Again’. ‘Mr. Bean’ and ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ are rare exceptions to the pattern.

“British sitcom films have all been rubbish,” Coogan told Yahoo! Movies UK while promoting ‘The Look Of Love’.

“How do you stop that? I don’t know. It might be rubbish. We’re just trying to put in as much funny stuff as possible, and we’re being quite hard on ourselves. There is a version of the film that is three hours long. When we get it down to 90 minutes hopefully we will have cut out the unfunny bits and left in the funny bits.”

The trick to making the successful transition from little to big screen is recognising that the mediums are totally different, according to Coogan.

“It’s very hard because you have to keep the DNA of the character, while keeping it very cinematic. You can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. You can’t just put a TV show onscreen because that’s one hour too long. What sustains itself on TV will not do so on the big screen. So you have to change it and not change it at the same time. I think we’ve done that but it’s not for me to say.”

[Related story: Coogan has more details on Alpha Papa]
[Related story: Alan Partridge movie: first pictures show Alan with rifle]

One way ‘Alpha Papa’ will do this is to mock the Hollywood convention that a character has to have an ‘arc’ in movie, that sees him overcome hardship and obstacles before learning something about himself at the end.

One such moment for Alan could involve a rifle and Cromer, judging by recent on-set snaps (see above).

“We make fun of the idea that in a movie a character has to have an arc,” says Coogan. “That they are changed in some way at the end. We have Alan say he’s changed at the end. But of course he hasn’t.”

The plot of ‘Alpha Papa’ sees Alan in Norwich DJ-ing on North Norfolk Digital before a “big horrible company called Gordale Media” takes over the radio station and tries to rename it ‘Shape'.

The film ends with a siege at the radio station, with Alan at the centre as the negotiator between gunman and the police outside.

Coogan admits the scale is bigger than an episode of one of the character’s various series, but will keep to its parochial roots.

“It’s seen as a big story but we never leave Norwich. Well... we do, but we don’t leave East Anglia. We go east!”

He also said it was important to mix veteran castmembers, such as Felicity Montagu’s hapless PA Lynn and Simon Greenhall’s unhinged ex-soldier Michael (they both skipped Alan’s recent TV shows), with fresh faces such as Colm Meaney  and Nigel Lindsay.

“We definitely wanted Lynn in there,” he said. “It was very strange seeing Felicity doing Lynn again but it was great; like putting old jackets on. But we expanded it. It’s going to be the same, but different.”

‘Alpha Papa’ is released in the UK on 7 August, while ‘The Look Of love’ is out now.