Has he left the BBC for good? What became of Monkey Tennis? Will there ever be a follow-up to Bouncing Back? Alan Partridge's triumphant return in the second season of online show Mid-Morning Matters has thrown up some big questions. ShortList shared a Blue Nun with Norfolk's premier broadcaster to find the answers. And he's keen to set the record straight.
Why have you been off our screens and airwaves for so long?
Far from being “off” the airwaves – which’d be news to the listeners who’ve spent their mid-mornings with me for the last four years – I’ve actually broadened my audience massively. My BBC chatshow was watched by a cool 900,000 viewers. Mid-Morning Matters, available online, has a potential audience of 1.9 billion. That’s an increase of 211,000% – the kind of numbers BBC execs would cream themselves over.
You’ve had trouble with commissioners in the past. Can you let us in on any recent show ideas that were rejected?
If you want to sneer at me about Monkey Tennis, come out and say it. Because my response is easy. Ridiculed by the British cleverati, Monkey Tennis was snapped up by TV stations in Laos and Taiwan and ran for two successful years. I exec produced for a fee that almost exactly covered the cost of my air fare. After two series, the format reached the end of its natural life and the monkeys were quickly and humanely destroyed. I no longer pitch television shows.
Had any reality TV offers you’ve turned down?
I wouldn’t have time to take part in any. Period. The diaries of other celebs might be empty, but mine is ram-a-jammed. On Saturday, for example, I saw that Strictly Come Dancing was on. How could I have found time go along and do a rhumba this weekend? I had to re-grout the downstairs Khazi.
What’s the best and worst thing about the Internet age?
Good question(s)! The worst thing is the paranoia. For some time, I refused to point the webcam directly at me because I was told that doing so would reveal my banking details. In actual fact, if someone points a webcam directly at you, it does not reveal your banking details.
You’ve bounced back again, have you got any more books in the pipeline?
Nothing concrete. I submitted a few pages of a novel to a publisher friend who described it as ‘Titchmarsh Lite’. Pretty encouraged by that, so I think I might pursue it. I read the Independent Lite the other day and it’s much better than The Independent.
A new government has been installed since we last saw you. What do you think of them and the recent cuts?
I’m just delighted that Cleggy’s got himself involved. Seems like a thoroughly OK chap to me. He has no real power but he gets to swan around Downing Street. Think about it – free teas and coffees, use of the photocopier, if he runs out of loo roll at home he can just nick some from number 10, that kind of thing. It sounds very pleasant to me.
What have you had to give up because of the recession?
My monthly donation to Oxfam. Very sad, but with the price of petrol ever-rising, I really do need that pound.
You recently made an angry phone call to Kasabian’s Tom Meighan, what went on there? Which modern music acts are you a fan of and which can’t you stand?
I’m actually thinking of going into music management. Last Wednesday I saw a mind-blowing new band called Dr Phil. Rather wonderfully, the lead singer is actually a doctor. (Though he’s not called Phil.)
How can I describe their sound? Well other than just using the word ‘incredible’, I’d say they were like a cross between the best of the Tears for Fears (the band, not the album) and the best of Genesis (the album).
If you had been trapped in with the Chilean miners how would you have passed the time?
What’s your love life like at the moment and are there any women in the public eye you’re particularly fond of?
Hey, I’m not ashamed to say I lead a healthy sex life. Fact is, women prefer men of a certain age. We take our time – have to, for cardiovascular reasons. But time has been kind to me, and I’ve morphed into a fairly attentive and quite generous lover. Have I shocked you? Are you shocked by this? I offer no apology. Yesteryear I’d never have dreamt about broaching this subject, but right now I take pride in my lovemaking. Next question.
It’s two years since Sachsgate. Tell us about your biggest on-air blunder.
On my TV chat show, I accidentally shot a man dead with a gun. Does that count or do want me to say another one?
As a former sports broadcaster, what was your take on recent sporting scandals involving Tiger Woods, Wayne Rooney and John terry?
Each of those guys are big. And big men have needs. Especially when they’re fit. Quite simply, if you get a big man in shape he’s going to have sex. My question is more about just how rampant these men are. For example, what would happen if you locked Tiger Woods in a room with Wayne Rooney, but Wayne Rooney was wearing a dress and a full face of make-up? Certainly makes you think.
Chris Moyles recently complained on air about not getting paid. Did you understand where he was coming from and have you experienced anything similar?
Chris Moyles reminds me very much of me when I was younger. He’s probably my favourite modern disc jockey – edgy, knowing and cool. They should pay him on time. Come on BBC! Pay Chris on time!
North Norfolk Digital is owned by Gordale Media – and they’re famously prompt payers. Besides, their CFO lives round the corner so I sometimes pop round and collect it.
Did you throw your hat in the ring to replace Jonathan Ross at the BBC?
Chat can be a very powerful thing. Like a new-born baby or nuclear waste, it needs to be handled with care. That’s why I’m delighted that Ross is to be replaced by Norton. Yes he’ll take prime time-chat in a new, more Irish direction. But I’m fine with that. He’s served his time on BBC2, now he’s ready to cross-over to BBC1 and play with the big boys. (Not literally. His sexuality is neither here nor there.)
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Alan’s new show Mid-Morning Matters airs at www.fostersfunny.co.uk.
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