Alan Partridge: Papa Alpha (15) ****

Lee Hockaday, commercial director at St Vincent College, Gosport

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Aha! The long-awaited Alan Partridge movie is finally here. And it’s textbook Partridge.

Alan’s radio station, North Norfolk Digital, has been taken over by a big media company and renamed Shape. Part of their business plan for re-shaping their image involves sacking one of the older DJs. Alan manages to save his job, but when late-night DJ Pat Farrell is laid-off instead he takes the news badly; then takes the station hostage at gunpoint.

Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge in Papa Alpha. Picture: PA Photo/Studio Canal.

Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge in Papa Alpha. Picture: PA Photo/Studio Canal.

With Pat refusing to talk to anyone but Alan, Norwich’s most famous TV and radio presenter is called in by police to act as a negotiator, and the safety of everyone is in his hands.

Fans will be pleased to know that much-loved characters from the hit sitcom I’m Alan Partridge, including security guard Michael (Simon Greenall) and PA Lynn (Felicity Montagu), are by the DJ’s side to help him through the chaos.

Written by Coogan and the team behind Partridge TV series Mid Morning Matters, all the classic gags are there, set amongst a subtle satire of the action heist genre.

Alan, is as embarrassing and hilarious as ever as he tries to manipulate the situation to boost his career and return to the spotlight. Naturally the egotistical presenter can’t help being distracted from trying to talk Pat round, joining him in broadcasting live from the siege. Why negotiate freeing hostages when you can play Neil Diamond, have a phone-in about bus drivers, or watch funny videos on Youtube?

While there is action, drama and even romance, Alpha Papa hasn’t put style over substance, or fallen into the trap of using massive special effects and stunts that get in the way of what is pure comedy gold.

Partridge fans rest assured, this film is ‘Back of the net!’