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.
“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.”
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”.
“Steve Coogan is a genius,” wrote David Walliams.
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.
He also pointed out that This Time got lower ratings than Martin Clunes’s new sitcom Warren.
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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