MEDiA: From The Oast House, Alan Partridge [Audiobook]

More ‘lovely stuff’ from AP, this time in audio only format. Eighteen wonderful episodes, all approx 20-25 minutes long, giving a total listening time of six hours forty-five minutes. Textbook!

I only wish there were more. Much, much, much more. Alan Partridge and Count Arthur Strong (the latter esp so in his radio guise) are my favourite contemporary comedy characters. Both are afflicted with delusions of grandeur. Aren’t we all, in our own sometimes public but more often furtively private ways?

Personally I think a large part of the appeal of these characters, in addition to the obviously clever wit and wordplay and occasional broad humour, is how they they play on the sensitive nerves of our fragile egos.

As much as aspects of their appalling self-regard and utter tactlessness may sometimes seem repellent, they’re also wounded but proud, wilfully set on going their own way. And I think both have sufficient humanity that we even identify with and love them – certainly I do – despite or because of all their glaring faults.

Characters like Partridge act as a comedy valve, allowing us to guffaw at the crassness of our own or others’ feeble fractured egos, simultaneously pompous and over inflated, and yet always covered in the peeling band-aids we all use to hide our frailties. Licking our wounds and dreaming of the greatness the world so often obtusely fails to recognise as our obvious just desserts.

From The Oast House is amongst the best Partridge we’ve been served for a long while, and overall far better for being ‘pure Partridge’ than the recent-ish TV show This Time, which was great, but perhaps over diluted by the abundance of ‘straight’ characters.

Coogan and co walk a fine line very adeptly, and perhaps the high wire act of balancing crass Tory corporate buffoon with lonely estranged single-dad (and now grandad), with an obvious if peevish intelligence, and even a penchant for half-decent poetry – Autumn Leaves, anyone!? – is at the heart of what makes Partidge, for me at least, easily the best single character comedy creation of our times.

Each episode works as a stand-alone bauble. But the whole lot form a necklace of pearls. Some threads, such as the ongoing cyber-drama of Partridge and his troll nemesis ‘High Noon’, run through the series. Other facets are singular to their given episode.

One constant is, of course, the erratic flight of a proud Partridge. And here, alone (or near enough; we have interactions with Rosa, his NDA-signed Philippino cleaner, and other occasional interlopers*) with his podcasting tech, we are treated to hours of pure unfiltered Alan. Love it!

For me, just over six and a half hours of vintage single malt Alan is both massively welcome, and yet not enough to slake the thirst. Come on Coogan et al, uncork the bottle and let the genie-us out!

* Lynn is, as so often in the non-TV Partridge stuff (like the books) a constant presence in the wings. Unseen/unheard, but there, as a sounding board (and many other things), for Alan.

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