If you are a fan of putting your name to inconsequential things that have no real impact on the world, I have good news. There is a new online petition to sign. It’s called “Allow Coogan and Fielding to present an episode of The One Show”, and, at time of writing, it has just over 1,500 signatures. This makes it slightly less successful than a petition by the Brimscombe Port Community Interest Businesses in Gloucester, who are trying to get a six-month lease extension for a municipal skate park.
The Coogan and Fielding petition, as you might expect, concerns the television series This Time with Alan Partridge. The show, broadly, spoofs magazine programmes such as The One Show, and so the creator of the petition wants Steve Coogan and his co-star, Susannah Fielding, to host a real episode of the actual One Show, presumably in character. This is a very bad idea and should never be allowed to happen.
This Time is a masterpiece. Of all the iterations of Alan Partridge, it might be my favourite. It isn’t as broad as Knowing Me Knowing You, or as flat-out bleak as I’m Alan Partridge. And, unlike Partridge’s output on Sky, people actually watch it. It’s sillier and subtler than any previous Partridge vehicle, propelled by a barrage of excruciating micro-expressions that hint at a world of discomfort lingering just below the surface. I love it very much.
This is why I will make it my life’s goal never to let Coogan and Fielding present an episode of The One Show. It would be nothing less than a national disaster.
To watch This Time is to watch a series that has been drilled to perfection. The show, especially the studio segments, is a delicate machine, where every flinch, glance and blink has been timed to absolute precision. In the most recent episode, for instance, Partridge accidentally lapsed into a Jimmy Savile impersonation. A microsecond later, a million reactions had passed across his face; realisation, horror, self-loathing, hope that it had passed by unnoticed. This sort of thing happens dozens of times in every episode, from Coogan and Fielding. You have to watch each episode twice to catch them all. It’s an incredible feat.
Meanwhile, The One Show is a weapon of blunt force trauma. It’s a live magazine that, while by design is quite inane, comes with all the pressures of live TV. Assuming that Coogan and Fielding could host a live TV show at all – let alone doing it while pulling off expertly crafted, uncomfortable comedy – seems a lot to ask. One flubbed link and the whole thing would come crashing down.
Besides, if they presented The One Show, they would be robbing us of some of the best bits of their work. The beauty of This Time is that it’s a nice summation of Alan Partridge’s career so far; the in-studio work mimics Knowing Me Knowing You, the filmed field pieces recall the specials he made for Sky and the backstage stuff harks back to I’m Alan Partridge. If Coogan hosted The One Show, there would be no Lynn. There would be no whispered griping about salaries. There would be no Nero Costa, for crying out loud. It would be rubbish. Without hyperbole, I would rather die than let Coogan present a 30-minute TV programme that I don’t normally watch.
Then again, Coogan is on record as saying that he made the Alan Partridge movie in part to spite a Guardian writer who didn’t think it would be a good idea. If he presents The One Show as a direct reaction to this piece, may I carry my shame to the grave.