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A-HA! Alan Partridge delivers ruddy good fun at Manchester's AO Arena

By Lyell Tweed

A-HA! Partridge travelled through time at the AO last night (Friday) as Alan served Manchester a treat.

Steve Coogan’s creation has been one of the country’s best-loved comedy characters for more than 30 years and last night showed there’s plenty left in Norwich’s finest local DJ. Middleton's favourite son Coogan made sure this was a homecoming show of sorts, with plenty of quips about the place.

He started with a sarcastic ‘yeah, The Smiths’ before saying he loved the ‘Happy Roses’ and the ‘Stone Mondays’. He declared Manchester his second favourite city after Liverpool, which was met with a round of boos. He then fetched a cheer from the crowd when he asserted the ‘best thing to come out of Liverpool is the Manchester ship canal’.

READ MORE: We went to McDonald's, Five Guys and Burger King on Piccadilly Gardens - the winner was a no-brainer

Alan then took us through time to his school days in Norwich 'through the magic of theatre', before taking us to a future where Norwich city centre has been pedestrianised to his agony in a great throwback to I’m Alan Partridge. This was another opportunity for a dig at his host city, as he said: "You know about the past…living in Manchester."

His ‘Stratagem’ show was all about how Alan, as a life coach, could help people from ‘broken homes’ better themselves. This came to a hilarious section where Alan and a former Stratagem user - ‘heartbreakingly, from Wigan’ - showed Alan that self help really isn’t for him.

Alan Partridge live in Manchester (MEN)

"There’s probably people from Wigan here tonight," the character said to cheers from the crowd. "And they’ve got tickets?!"

The interval came and I was firmly set on three stars. I love Partridge, but the musical bits just weren’t landing, and many at the bar agreed.

And while the first routine after the interval also fell a bit flat, the rest had me in stitches. Firstly, Martin Brennan, the Irish Alan Partridge lookalike who spooked Alan in his most recent BBC Show This Time with Alan Partridge made a great cameo.

Partridge's Martin Brennan made a hilarious return in the Stratagem stage show (MEN)

There was an even greater throwback for Partridge purists. He set off on a mix of 80s power ballads, reminiscent of his ABBA medley in Knowing me knowing you, which while I can’t remember the specific songs, had me ‘creasing’, according to my girlfriend.

There was a textbook 'A-HA!' to kick things off, with a quick cut of Orinoco Flow by Enya with Alan singing 'Sail away' while pointing at a mock P&O ad, and constant interruptions for Alan to discuss First Past the Post voting and the Lib Dems. While not everything landed in the two-hour show, this certainly did.

The show is perfect for Partridge fans old and new. There were bags of references to all his past shows which make him so well loved but enough originality to make this well worth watching.

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Dive Deeper:
Alan Partridge Stratagem live show brings iconic character back for a night that no one wanted to end
The live show in Liverpool embodied everything Alan Partridge is, was and should be
‘What an unpleasant man’: Alan Partridge interviews Steve Coogan
Actor and comedian Steve Coogan claims there are next to no skeletons left in his closet. So we sent the…
Little Black girls simply didn’t get to see a reflection of themselves as Disney princesses... until now
Why the lead actors in Beauty and the Beast at Manchester's Palace Theatre represent a watershed moment for theatre
Manchester City keep Premier League title fate in their hands despite Mahrez penalty miss
Liverpool need to score 7 goals or more in the process and win both their matches, and hope Manchester City…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Paul McCartney review, Los Angeles: Proof he was the coolest Beatle all along
At LA’s SoFi Stadium, the 79-year-old breathes fresh life into the classic tunes that established him as the planet’s greatest…
Former Man City heroes reunite to celebrate the greatest day in Premier League history
Fans and former City players united at Mayfield Depot for an evening of celebration and nostalgia.
Get all your news in one place