The Alan Partridge books, of which Big Beacon is the third, involve a commitment to the bit that could never be undertaken single-handedly, and if anything would likely require a team of at least three, ideally including twin brothers. It’s tempting, having been furnished with the book, to try and match that commitment, but ultimately more prudent to leave it to the professionals.
Something I’d thus observe, in the spirit of sour pedantry, is that sometimes in this fairly long, densely written and mostly very funny book, the ‘Partridge voice’ – which has evolved over the last 30 years, much like yours or mine – feels a bit off. I don’t peg him as someone who would call attendees of a regatta “braying coked-up idiots”, for example, or get so deftly to the nub of what causes things to be described as problematic.
Entitled fan telling people how to do their job aside, Big Beacon has a laughter rate on par with I, Partridge and Nomad, the embattled broadcaster’s previous two memoirs. The conceit here is that Partridge, having returned to mainstream TV as a stand-in presenter on This Time before being dismissed from it, has purchased a lighthouse with a view to making it his home (this culminates in a punchline you may be able to guess). This involves thorny interactions with both the lower classes of Britain and some of the nation’s most perennial light entertainers, for which the writers go above and beyond ‘name a crap celebrity for easy titters’. A chapter-length companionship with Richard Keys and Andy Gray is especially good; the bit where Alan quotes just enough Gary Barlow lyrics to avoid having to pay royalties even better.
As with the previous two titles, the footnotes are pitch-perfect in their rambling redundancy, and you should keep reading until the index, a bit like a blooper reel during movie credits but more worthwhile. Also, despite not being an ‘audiobook person’ I laughed at the I, Partridge one more than nearly anything else in my life, so am betting Big Beacon will deliver also.
Big Beacon, Alan Partridge with Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons & Steve Coogan (Seven Dials)
Price: £25/£31.99 audiobook. Info: here
words NOEL GARDNER