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Five minutes with... Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge is back inside Broadcasting House with his own live chat show This Time with Alan Partridge. Gemma Dunn finds out more from Steve Coogan's fictional bumbling broadcaster

Steve Coogan returns to our screens tonight as Alan Partridge in This Time with Alan Partridge
Gemma Dunn

ALAN PARTRIDGE, IT'S BEEN 25 YEARS SINCE YOUR LAST BBC PRESENTING JOB...

It has. But very soon I'll be parking ma backside on the This Time sofa, just inches from regular host Jennie Gresham, a broadcaster I genuinely admire.

If it's not verboten to say this in the current climate, she's the thinking man's thinking woman and provides not just eye-candy, but ear-candy and even brain-candy too at times. She's that good.

HOW DID YOUR RETURN TO LIVE TV COME ABOUT?

Well, as you may have read, regular presenter John Baskell has become rendered unwell – it's not my place to divulge the nature of his illness but I believe it's to do with his heart, brought on by good living and his almost heroic refusal to ever exercise.

So with a few days' notice, I got the call. And although my schedule is as clogged as John's arteries (get well, John) I consider it my public duty to stand in for as long as John is away. Anyway, it won't be for long. If John can fight this with a fraction of the vigour he uses to fight for presenting work he knows has already been promised to other people, he'll be on his feet again in no time.

YOU'RE USED TO HELMING YOUR OWN SHOWS. HAVE YOU CO-PRESENTED BEFORE?

I've presented daytime radio alongside a man called Simon Denton for several years. But that's not co-presenting. In relation to me, Simon's position contractually is one of total subordination. He's a sidekick – at best. And he knows that. So no, co-presenting is not a dynamic I'm used to, but I've been working on a few things. So when Jennie's reading the autocue I might turn my head to face her to simulate listening, or frown solemnly if she mentions 'cancer', or wait until it's my turn to speak and then prefix it with 'That's right, Jennie.' Loads of things you can do.

HOW DO YOU AND JENNIE GET ALONG?

Gotta say, we've only just met, but already we have a chemistry that sizzles like liver in a hot pan and crackles like a genuine house fire. We joke about it ourselves! I said to her, "Jennie, in the words of Grease, we go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong". And did she laugh! (Yes.)

WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SHOW? ARE YOU A FAN OF THIS TIME?

If I'm honest, I'm not super-clued-up on the show itself? I'm not an avid watcher of BBC One, since I don't like documentaries about supermarkets or period dramas featuring bonnets. But I've circled a bit on a This Time press release here that describes it as a '30-minute mixture of studio chat, rigorous interview, hard-hitting VTs and a generous helping of fun, covering news, issues and consumer affairs'. Whereas I'm more of a Nazi Megastructures man.

HOW WOULD YOU SUM IT UP?

Ha! Believe me, I don't have the time to sit around thinking up marketing taglines for the show. Wish I did! But I suppose if pushed, I'd say something like: If you've got time to give This Time your time, then it's time to let This Time spend time making your time a good time on This Time with me, Alan Partridge and I'm sorry I've forgotten the woman's name.

ANYTHING TO ADD?

Not really, just please please please please please please please watch the show.

:: This Time with Alan Partridge will air on BBC One on Monday, February 25

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