Alan Partridge returns to five-star reviews

Media captionSteve Coogan brings Alan Partridge back to the BBC

Steve Coogan’s return to the BBC in This Time with Alan Partridge has earned five-star reviews from critics.

The comedy character’s comeback was watched by 3.2 million viewers, according to overnight figures.

Written by Steve Coogan and Neil and Rob Gibbons, the team behind 2013 film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, it has been hailed as a “magnificent return”.

The format of Alan filling in on a One Show-style magazine programme was praised as a “brilliant move”.

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Chris Bennion gave the show, which began its BBC One on Monday at 21:30 GMT, top marks in The Times.

“Even those with an aversion to Alan would have admired this spot-on One Show spoof,” he wrote.

“We had presenter Alan overegging his script… and miming how to use a train toilet without using your hands.

“And we had vulnerable Alan, off-air, seeking reassurance and, most memorably, begging for a glass of water seconds before the cameras went live.”

Bennion also praised Susannah Fielding as Alan’s co-host Jennie, saying she was “impeccable” at keeping her “rictus grin intact” while conveying “horror” with her eyes.

“I don’t think I’ve seen better eye-acting,” he gushed.

Media captionAlan Partridge put Norfolk on the map with his radio and TV shows

“If you’ve never seen Steve Coogan’s comic creation before, sit back and enjoy [this] One Show parody,” wrote the Radio Times’ Tim Glanfield.

“But if you’re a Partridge fan, This Time is everything you’ve been waiting for and more.”

Lucy Mangan from The Guardian also gave it five stars, saying: “After half an hour in [Alan’s] appalling company, you’ll be limp from laughter, loathing, panic and despair.”

She said the “layers and escalation of every exchange” were “precision-engineered: beautiful things and a joy forever.”

Media captionCritics from 5 Live’s Must Watch review Alan Partridge’s return

There’s another five-star review in The i, which said the show was “a magnificent return”.

“From the beautifully drawn rivalry with his joke-stealing co-presenter Jennie… to the hysteria-inducing segment with Tim Key’s Sidekick Simon… this was Partridge at full throttle” wrote Sarah Hughes.

Mark Monahan called it a “sublimely excruciating return for a disastrously bad broadcaster” in The Telegraph.

“Seldom have comebacks to prime-time telly been more excruciating than Alan Partridge’s – which, for Coogan and co, is of course the ultimate compliment,” he wrote.

Coogan’s comedians on Twitter also praised the show, with Shappi Khorsandi saying it made her “painfully happy”.

Image Copyright @ShappiKhorsandi

Twitter post by @ShappiKhorsandi: God that made me happy. Painfully happy. #AlanPartridgeImage Copyright @ShappiKhorsandi

“Steve Coogan is a genius,” wrote David Walliams.

Image Copyright @davidwalliams

Twitter post by @davidwalliams: This is the funniest comedy show I have seen in ages. Steve Coogan is a genius. Alan Partridge is back tonight ⁦@BBCOne⁩ 9 30pm Image Copyright @davidwalliams

And Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright called the show “ruthlessly funny and as detailed as ever”.

Yet not everyone was impressed by Alan Partridge’s first show for the BBC since I’m Alan Partridge last aired in 2002.

The Sun’s reviewer called it “lame” and criticised the format for allowing no “breathing space for anything”.

“There’s just a pile-up of jokes that generally aren’t worth the effort of a second viewing,” wrote Ally Ross.

Ian Hyland critic for The Mirror tweeted that the show was more suited to “Telly types and Twitter” than a BBC One audience.

Image Copyright @HylandIan

Twitter post by @HylandIan: If you've seen the Can I have a glass of water please? My mouth is dry. clip from the first episode of This Time With Alan Partridge you've already seen the funniest bit. Telly types and Twitter will probably love it. Not sure the BBC1 audience will be quite so giddy.Image Copyright @HylandIan

He also pointed out that This Time got lower ratings than Martin Clunes’s new sitcom Warren.

Image Copyright @HylandIan

Twitter post by @HylandIan: Ratings. Alan Partridge’s BBC comeback #ThisTime (3.3m) lost out to the Martin Clunes sitcom Warren and ITV’s Long Lost Family. (Both 3.8m).Image Copyright @HylandIan

The show’s debut episode, which went out at 21:00 GMT, was seen by an average of 3.8 million viewers, as was ITV’s simultaneous offering.

The first episode of This Time with Alan Partridge can currently be viewed on the BBC iPlayer.

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