Alan Partridge hits Cineworld screens on 7 August in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. You may have noticed over the past few weeks that we've teased you with snippets of Alan's stint as guest editor on the August issue of Cineworld magazine.
Well, enough of sating your appetites! We're delighted to bring you the full interview that we conducted with Alan as part of the magazine. Read on as he reveals juicy snippets, such as who would play him in a filmed version of his autobiography and how he manages to broadcast his entire radio show on Twitter...
And after you've read the interview, book your tickets for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa..
Hello, Alan. Thanks for sparing us time today.
Absolute pleasure. Plus it’s contractual.
Can you tell us a bit about Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa?
Certainly can and will! It’s a powerful piece of work with a capital POW (my phrase). And, like all the great movies, it centres on an incident on the outskirts of Norwich. Critics have described the movie as ‘moving’, ‘great’, ‘poetic’, ‘life-affirming’, ‘action-packed’, ‘great’, ‘superb’ and ‘one of the best ever’. I don’t have their names to hand but I could get them for you if you think I’m making it up. But all I’d say is, not all critics have to be published journalists. You could be a critic, I could, my assistant could, some of the people on my pub quiz team could (and are).
Were you interested in film when you were growing up?
I was intoxicated and interested by film, bewitched and bewildered, consumed and concerned. That’s why I get so angry when people suggest I know nothing about cinema.
I know loads about cinema. As a child, there was nothing I enjoyed more than taking a stroll to the local picture house, buying a big tub of poppers (my nickname for popcorn) and watching Transformers 2, for example, before driving home.
My walls were decked with film posters featuring Burt Reynolds, Rog Moore and, in my sexually curious years, blue-movie star Robin Askwith and the woman who went on to play Alma in Coronation Street. I also have a voucher that entitles me to a certain number of cinema trips over a certain period of time (not read the details) so it’s clear I’m passionate about film.
What do you think of the state of the arts in this country at the moment?
I think it needs a kick up the arm, to be absolutely honest with you. We used to be a nation of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Constable and Essex (David).
Today, we’re a cultural backwater, a barren concrete wasteland strewn with stolen shopping trolleys and back-chatting kids where the closest we come to art is an obscene message about someone’s mother scrawled on the wall of a filthy underpass. British people – once proud, clever people – now guzzle up television that I frankly could spit at and sometimes do.
And the only movies we produce are about 20th century monarchs or teenagers with bad attitudes. I blame almost all of this on the former Labour government. That’s where I come in. I genuinely believe that my film could spark a cultural renaissance as cultural as the Renaissance.
Are you promoting this film in any innovative ways?
I was hoping to organise a fly-past by the Red Arrows. But it hit the buffers early on when I couldn’t figure out where I wanted them to fly past. Also I wanted it done in the evening but apparently the Red Arrows boys knock off at five so they can get down to the pub by ten past.
So at the moment my main idea is to lease a small fleet of cars, strap a giant inflatable Alan Partridge to the roof racks of each one and send them out around the ring roads in the UK. I feel it’s a really strong concept.
I saw a prototype of the inflatable the other day and – if I’m honest – it looked more like Clare Balding than it did Alan Partridge. But she’s a fine-looking woman and if an eight-foot likeness of her draws people to see the film, then as far as I’m concerned it’s all gravy.
This film isn’t your first foray into the arts. You’ve also published an autobiography, which was a real warts ‘n’ all portrayal of your life.
It was warts, verrucas, moles, psoriasis, the lot. I'd even include the blackheads on my nose. I looked at them with a shaving mirror the other day actually. Disgusting. It was like the world's most densely-packed dot-to-dot puzzle. I tried to get rid of them with a blackhead gun made out of a ballpoint pen. But there were simply too many. I just ended up with slightly fewer blackheads and a very red nose. Hey-ho.
Would you ever consider turning the autobiography into a biopic? Who would play you?
Morgan Freeman. Or ITV man John Stapleton. He's not known as an actor – but he will be. I've seen him act out domestic arguments and exchanges with shopkeepers and I've seen enough to know he will become one of our best-loved actors. He has bags of talent.
Do you still pitch TV show ideas?
Not really. I still have killer ideas. They mainly come to me when I’m singing in the bath. Yesterday I came up with Britain’s Biggest Cobbler, for example (there are some huge ones in Norfolk, real big lads). But I don’t pitch them any more. The audiences just aren’t there. Everyone’s got six hundred channels to choose from. Not to mention catch-up TV.
No mate, TV’s dead. Digital radio, on the other hand, now that’s an exciting place to be. Anyone in the world with an internet connection can tune in to my weekday morning show on North Norfolk Digital. For all I know I could have a dedicated fan base in China. Indeed if this Cineworld magazine has reached any of you, Ni hao.
Are you on Twitter?
Am I on Twitter? I broadcast my show over Twitter.
How does that work?
I employ an agency secretary to transcribe the four-hour show, divide it into 140-character chunks and post it line-by-line. Some refuse to type out the song lyrics. Others don't mind. Depends which one you get.
A lot of celebs find Twitter a pretty hostile place. Do you?
The complete opposite. To me, it’s a hug from a cherished relative; a pat on the back from an old chum. Yeah, there are sly comments about the clothes I wear. Sure, there are snide remarks about my radio show. And obviously there are a fair smattering of death threats.
Well thanks for talking to us today, Alan. We hope Alpha Papa does really well.
Me too. I’ve got a loft extension riding on it.