Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle review: Norfolk’s finest hits the road to redemption

Why the new Partridge might be the best one yet.

Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle
Cashback Alan Partridge returns in documentary Scissored Isle. Image Picture Sky

Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle
Sky Atlantic, May 30, 10pm
★★★★☆

After a second run of Mid Morning Matters earlier this year, Alan Partridge returns to Sky Atlantic with one-off comedy Scissored Isle – chalk it up as another dose of vintage Partridge from Steve Coogan and sibling co-writers Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons.

In this spoof documentary the beleaguered radio presenter is hoisted out of his comfort zone and thrown on the road to investigate broken Britain. Think of it as a quasi-sequel to the brilliant Welcome To The Places Of My Life; elitist Alan out and about and interacting with the public.

Where Places Of My Life was a jovial tour of East Anglia, Scissored Isle sees Partridge try his hand at hard-hitting journalism. After footage of him calling a teen a “chav” goes viral, he leaves behind a cosy life to venture to the mean streets of Manchester and learn about the north/south class divide.

“I live in pretty salubrious digs. And while the mortgage crippled me, my name is on the deed, I live here, it’s my house.”

Striding away from his opulent country home, the sign-off is classic Partridge: “I live in pretty salubrious digs. And while the mortgage crippled me, my name is on the deed, I live here, it’s my house.”

Partridge’s journey sees him spend time working behind the checkout at Tesco, where he master the art of “chat and scan”, try to win the trust of a gang of inner city youths, experience a bad ecstasy comedown and get trapped in a warehouse after a scavenger hunt with a freegan goes awry.

All of this is comedy dynamite as parochial middle-Englander Partridge does his very best to understand and empathise with his subjects. Whereas old school Partridge could be a mean-spirited bully and weapons grade idiot, since his return on Mid Morning Matters he’s humbler and, shockingly, even a bit endearing. Of course, in Scissored Isle any of Partridge’s attempts to create a convincing argument or prove he’s “down with the kids” ends with him falling flat on his face.

The Gibbons brothers amp this all up through their direction, throwing in some slapdash editing, bad voiceovers and over-cooked montages of the host getting into his car. All of it makes perfect sense since Partridge himself is credited as “co-director” on the opening titles.

By Scissored Isle’s end Partridge has found – in his own eyes, at least – some kind of redemption, all captured in a hilarious “rebirth” sequence that would make his staunch Christian assistant Lynn proud. Don’t expect him to walk triumphantly off into the sunset a changed man, though. More classic blunders and gaffes will be forthcoming in a book, Alan Partridge: Nomad, arriving later this year. Based on the strength of Scissored Isle, there’s plenty of mileage left in (north) Norfolk’s finest yet.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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