Apart from his many car-crash interviews, Alan Partridge has done well over the years to avoid any serious accidents. But he’s never encountered a diving board before. In the latest episode of This Time, he unwisely launches himself into a swimming pool from a great height, setting off a disastrous chain of events.
“Why did you have to dive off the top board,” asks long-suffering PA Lynn when water trapped in Alan’s ear threatens to derail his on-air TV report. “Diving at your age! You’re not a spring chicken, you’re barely a summer chicken.”
She’s not wrong – Partridge debuted in 1991 BBC Radio 4 comedy programme On the Hour, 30 years ago – and the inept presenter ends up ruining his broadcast by shouting because he can’t hear.
Things take an even more awkward turn when Alan, in a clear-attempt to win over the middle-England viewers he so clearly idolises, goes to meet a female RAF pilot who defended Britain during World War II.
In a classic Partridge moment, he rudely discounts the experiences of the 93-year-old because her interview was “largely unusable” and instead, rather awkwardly, gets a younger male captain to describe the war hero’s experiences for her. The bizarre segment also sees Alan indulging his own wartime fantasies by taking to the skies in a Spitfire but, as his warped facial expressions prove, the G-force soon becomes too much.
Back in the studio, there’s the strongest hint so far that Alan’s make-up assistant could become a love interest when, spurred on by her own advances, he invites her to his holiday home in Cornwall. But, predictably, he cocks things up and also offers the home to colleague Jennie Gresham.
And all this before late highlights emerge in Alan’s interactions with an online troll, played to perfection by Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso, Intelligence) and a right-wing rock band who provoke the ire of a group of topless protestors that try and invade the show. Alan, clearly intent on grabbing the spotlight, does everything in his power to stop the topless women from appearing on-screen. It is no surprise that he completely fails.
Still, it’s arguably the best and most bonkers episode so far. With only one more to go this season, Steve Coogan’s raucous revival is peaking at just the right time.
- “You just said I was a summer chicken. At least I’m not a winter hen who’s no longer laying” – Alan’s harsh retort to Lynn when she questions his advancing age.
- “I was diving off the top board and on the way down I saw a couple petting. I must have turned to rebuke them and landed on my ear” – Alan on how he ended up with water stuck in his ear.
- “Imagine the look on Noel Edmonds’ face when he hears I’m interviewing Princess Anne! I think he might puke!”
- “He got into sewing rather than fighting because he was severely mollycoddled by his mother and, sadly, the poor chap ended up as a softie” – Alan on a male wartime seamstress when comparing his efforts to a female fighter pilot.
- “Bruce Springsteen. There’s another one. Four decades singing about guys in overalls. Give it a rest”
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