This Time is partly a super-accurate aping of the freewheeling live TV magazine format with its relentless screeching tonal gear changes, and also a flat-out hilarious continuation of the Alan Partridge story. Each episode packs in a lavish number of jokes, delightful moments of perfectly timed slapstick and brilliantly conceived scenes of extended Partridge awkwardness, as he tries to slip into the role of co-host and takes Making It All About Him to previously uncharted levels. Mostly we are simply watching this One Show-style programme play out “as live”, but there are also key moments when we glimpse unvarnished Alan off-camera, getting support from his legendary assistant Lynne, who assures him that his comeback is all going really well.
Of course it’s not, but now Alan is but one of many over-confident middle-aged male TV presenters who can get away with saying anything as long as it it’ll make a provocative clip on Twitter. His younger female co-host is played with uncanny authenticity by Susannah Fielding. Her looks to camera when Alan goes off piste are perfect.
This format allows more opportunities than ever to relish in the gloriously puffed-up misguidedness of Alan. His attempts at serious, topical discussion segments are a particular highlight, and episode two’s #MeToo storyline superbly up-ends our expectations of Alan’s behaviour. It’s hard to imagine a better vehicle with which to bring Alan back to mainstream TV comedy.