Entertainment News

  • 25 July 2013, 12:27

Partridge Movie A 'Love Letter' To Norwich

Alan Partridge has told Sky News that he has changed his views about the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre and is now in favour of the idea.

The fictional character played by Steve Coogan was speaking at the premiere of his new film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa in Norwich - a place that is dear to his heart.

He said: "A man came up to me in the street the other day and said 'Alan, what is it about Norwich that you love?'. I said it's not mustard, it's not shoes, it's not Delia Smith.

"It's Myleene Klass, it's Cathy Dennis, it's Hannah from S-Club 7. That's what Norwich means to me.

"Norwich goes from strength to strength. I mean, I used to be against the pedestrianisation of Norwich and now I'm very much for it."

The socially awkward broadcaster, who was wearing a short-sleeve, belted, blue suit, also told fans his film "could spark a cultural renaissance".

The appeal of Coogan's character, whom he has played for more than 20 years, is perhaps the fact that he is destined for obscurity, despite his best efforts.

He is narcissistic, insecure and prone to faux pas.

His big-screen debut - Alpha Papa - is set in the fictional North Norfolk Digital radio station where a violent siege presents Partridge with an opportunity to raise his own public profile.

The decision to hold the premiere in Norwich rather than London was taken after a Facebook campaign by fans.

Speaking on the red carpet in the city's Anglia Square, Partridge described the movie as his "love letter to Norwich".

Tourism bosses have seized the opportunity to boost the city's profile off the back of the movie.

They have launched an Alan Partridge walking tour, taking in sights like London Street - the first pedestrianised street in Britain - the world's only mustard museum and the city hall, which has one of the longest balconies in England.

To acknowledge Partridge's hatred of health and safety rules, the tour also takes in the city's war memorial, which used to be the only monument in Britain to emit smoke and flames. It no longer does so because officials decided it was too dangerous.

The tour is inspired by last year's one-hour special on Sky Atlantic - Welcome To The Places Of My Life - in which Alan took viewers on an intensely mundane tour of the city.

But Nick Bond from Visit Norwich says although Coogan's character can be derogatory about the city, he has helped put it on the map.

"Obviously Alan is a fictional character and yes he makes fun of the city.  But we embrace that.  It's a massive gift in terms of promoting ourselves as a visitor destination."

Asked about the arrival of the Royal baby, Partridge said in his typically insensitive way: "It's a marvellous day.

"The thing to remember about the Royal baby is that not only does it share it's birthday with Bonnie Langford and Danny Glover from the Lethal Weapon films, it's also 10 years since Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay were shot to death in Iraq, so it's a double celebration."

The actor later attended a second premiere at London's Leicester Square, where 800 Terry's Chocolate Oranges - each with superficial damage - were handed out, in a reference to his popular TV series I'm Alan Partridge.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is in cinemas from August 7.