Back of the net? Not quite

Steve Coogan is Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful CharactersThe Regent, IpswichIt has been 10 years since Steve Coogan went on tour; has it been worth the wait?On the evidence presented last night, not really.

Dominic Castle

Steve Coogan is Alan Partridge and Other Less Successful Characters

The Regent, Ipswich

It has been 10 years since Steve Coogan went on tour; has it been worth the wait?

On the evidence presented last night, not really. Coogan has a great comic gift and created one of the finest TV ogres ever in the shape of Alan Partridge; however, the first half of the show was devoted to the lesser vehicles referred to in the title.

Pauline Calf opened with a song and a routine that was frankly weak and devoid of wit and which, beyond acquiring a Russian boyfriend, updated the character not a jot.

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Tommy Saxondale then clumped through a ho-ho wink-wink anti-drugs message and another song while Duncan Thicket did nothing noteworthy at all.

The audience was enlivened by the appearance of a plaster cast wearing, wheelchair-bound Paul Calf, but the biggest cheers inevitably came on the appearance of the captain of crassness, Alan P himself.

Coogan comes to life when he slips Partridge's sports casual jacket on. His timing and delivery improve, helped by a superior script, and he brings a fizz to proceedings previously missing.

Radio Norwich's finest is now a motivational speaker, but that thread was never fully developed before we were treated to a somewhat random Partridge Productions playlet of the life of Sir Thomas More, which did at least provide some of the wittier moments of the show before the evening ended with a rude song that was pure Monty Python (though most definitely post watershed Python).

What a pity Coogan did not use the opportunity of the tour to introduce some new characters, or even update the existing ones.

There were some good moments, but way too many poor ones. We expected better.

Dominic Castle

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