Alan Partridge returns to his audio roots in a hysterical, expertly-written Audible original podcast.
Allow me to start by doing you a favor, since before listening to the free preview episode of From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast (Audible), I spent a frankly embarrassing amount of time looking for it and being unable to find it. The thing’s a teaser for the full 18-part series that launches on September 3rd, exclusively on Audible, but you can only get at this 25-minute sample between today, June 5th, and midnight next Friday, June 12th, and even then only through Alexa. If you don’t have an Alexa-enabled device you can download the Alexa App on Android Play or the iOS App Store. Then you have to tell it, “Alexa, read From the Oasthouse.”
Phew. Since it required so much brand-peddling effort just to access this thing, I confess that my first thought was that it bloody well better be good. Then again, though, it’s Partridge – of course it’s good! What’s more is it’s Alan returning to his audio roots; he began as a spoof sports reporter on Radio 4 three decades ago, and here we are today, with an identical, timeless shtick being exercised by one of the great comedic minds of our time.
With all this in mind, then, From the Oasthouse is vintage Alan. Pure Partridge. This free episode finds him rambling the Norfolk countryside, breathlessly ranting about nature, cyclists, and reading passers-by a poem he’s written called Autumn Leaves. He’s wearing fat socks in his wellies and has Penguin bars in his thigh pockets in case he falls into a ravine. He keeps farting and apologizing for it.
There’s little reason for any of this beyond that it’s funny. Alan isn’t trying to unpack any deep truth of humanity – before long he’s pitching ridiculous films starring Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis. They’re terrible ideas – Alan’s always are. But the fluidity of the podcast format seems like a truer, less staged version of this odd, increasingly right-wing man, this petty self-aggrandizing has-been who tells Bear Grylls how to treat nettle stings and thinks he’s lying when he says he already knew what to do. His panting and muttering at dog walkers seems so genuine that you can believe this guy’s real, that you’re somehow listening to a real-life nutcase inanely babble to himself. It’s a weird, wonderful thing.
And you forget it’s all expertly written, which is of course the point of great writing. It’s only during sequences like a truly masterful centerpiece in which Alan snoops through a seemingly empty cottage and makes wild, overconfident assumptions about its inhabitants that you remember how carefully thought-out this persona is; how expertly Coogan portrays him. In one 25-minute walk, he reminds us all why this character has been a consistent fixture of British comedy for as long as most of us can remember.
From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast is aptly titled since it really is pure, perfect Partridge. If this is to function as an advert for the full series, I can’t imagine a better one.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.