Sixteen years after it hit screens, a glaring, barely-forgiveable error regarding Britain’s A-roads has been spotted
Nick Ruskell, music journalist and a man who knows more about The Brittas Empire than most, was rewatching the series and spotted something that just didn’t seem right in the series two episode Bravealan. He wrote this on Facebook:
“When [Alan] meets Dan Moody he says about owning Kitchen Planet on the A416. This struck me as odd, as road numbering puts roads with 4s at the start in the top left section of roads coming out of London, whereas Norfolk is to the North East. I looked it up, and BANG I was proved right, it’s near Hemel Hempstead, miles from Norwich. So either Dan Moody drives a very long way for petrol, or they screwed up. Also, would he be able to receive Radio Norwich so far away if he lived near the A416?”
Here’s the scene in question - the road is namechecked at 1:16:
Butter my arse, he’s right.
A-roads are named in a quadrant system (see a map of them here), with Zone 4 spreading North-West out of London. The A416 goes from Amersham to Berkhamstead, and doesn’t pass within a two and a half hour drive of Norwich at any point. Could Dan pick up Radio Norwich from there? Sure, if he had a DAB radio, but the episode was broadcast in 2002, when DAB systems were only newly commercially available and strictly for early adopters.
“Alan Partridge’s knowledge of kitchen showrooms simply wouldn’t extend that far,” Ruskell tells us.
“It must be a mistake - if it isn’t, then why does a man who lives in the vicinity of Norwich (evidenced by how quickly Alan and Lynn get to his big house later in the episode, and his appearance at the Norfolk Bravery Awards) run a hands-on business based at least 131 miles away (ref: Google Maps)? If he lives more equidistant between Berkhamsted (the nearest end of the A416) and Norwich, why is he such a mover and shaker in Norfolk life? And if he does live nearer work, why is he buying petrol from a BP garage in Norwich?”
The A146 is in Norfolk, so it could well be the case that the script said A146 and A416 came out of Coogan’s mouth on the day.
Of this theory, Ruskell says, “If that’s the sort of sloppy standards to which the BBC hold themselves, he was better off without that second series.”
Ironically it feels like a mistake that Alan Partridge himself would spot - this is, after all, a man sadly amazed by the number of people who still think the petrol cap to a Ford Focus is on the offside rear.
“Interestingly, there is actually another 4-numbered A-road reference in this episode which is correct,” Ruskell says.
“At the Norfolk Bravery Awards they’re talking about how Norfolk looks ‘more like a boob’ than ‘the rump of Britain’. It’s joked that the A47 is the areola. The A47 does indeed run through Norfolk, but as it starts in road zone 4 near Birmingham, the 4 is not an anomaly (although it isn’t a ring road). I am very sad.”
We have of course reached out to Steve Coogan for comment and will update this piece when he gets back to us (he won’t, he’s very famous, he’s got vastly better things to do).