Alan Partridge: From The Oasthouse | Podcast review by Steve Bennett
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Alan Partridge: From The Oasthouse

Podcast review by Steve Bennett

He’s just been named Britain’s top comedy character, and the preview episode of his first podcast gives more evidence why Alan Partridge has the well-rounded subtlety to be worthy of the title.

Apparently released so he can feel relevant at a time when key workers are grabbing all the attention he feels is his birthright,  From The Oast House allows this cut-price Clarkson free rein to say it like it really is, away from the outside interference of any broadcaster that might employ him. Grasping the DIY ethos, he even makes his own jingles, which are as comically misjudged as his consistently amusing monologue.

In his mind, radio stations are like infantries, but going solo allows him to indulge the notion of being like ‘special forces’ – light and agile and ‘allowed to ride roughshod over human rights (or ignore Ofcom).’

Like Donald Trump, he likes to evoke misplaced fantasies of a military life he could never in reality withstand. This combines with the insecurities his bluster cannot mask to give him a child-like naivety that softens his myopic Middle-England intolerance, making him sympathetic despite being a laughing stock.

Empathy with others is not his strong point, missing the humanity of the troubled man in the pub he describes in favour of a clumsily insensitive reverie. Likewise, he always assumes his point of view is the only correct one one: ‘Any right-minded person feels wave of revulsion seeing middle-aged cyclists outside a shop,’ he asserts with certainty.

Such barely-concealed disdain is hidden behind a faux bonhomie… say something with a chuckle and they can’t take offence is his stated motto, dressing up his pent-up anger and bitterness in fake jokes. His attempts at wit always miss the mark, which is what makes them funny – and that’s fine balance is always achieved.

This opening episode of his podcast comes not from within the confines of the titular county retreat, of which he is hilariously defensive. Instead, he has gone rambling – ‘and I don’t mean talking incessantly with no focus’ – which allows him to ponder the countryside, pry on his neighbours and, unlikely as it seems, give Lyn some very detailed advice of what to do if a car goes into a skid.

Partridge wants to be a whimsical Wogan, but lacks the talent or humility, and instead subjects us to bad poetry about the autumn (‘half ‘twixt summer and winter’) and opinions taken far too seriously.

The writing is nuanced and consistently funny and the performance as layered as only such a long-running character can be, while the podcast format gives an intimacy that allows you to savour it all. Now we just have to wait three months for the other 17 episodes…

• The full series of Alan Partridge: From The Oasthouse will be released on September 3 behind Audible’s paywall, although new members get a month’s free subscription. You can hear the first episode on an Alexa enabled device now by asking: 'Alexa, read From the Oasthouse.’

Review date: 5 Jun 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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