Sidekick Simon: An Appreciation

When it was announced that Alan Partridge was to return we got just a little excited, we just didn’t expect him to be upstaged by a stoner from the fens.
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When it was announced that Alan Partridge was to return we got just a little excited, we just didn’t expect him to be upstaged by a stoner from the fens.

When I sat down to watch the first episode of Alan Partridge: Mid Morning Matters, I fixed my eyes on Coogan and prepared for the inevitable burst of coffee onto my keyboard. Any doubts as to Coogan’s ability to still inhabit the role were dispelled with the opening phoner about condiments. “Gravy,” said the caller, “that’s not a condiment, it’s a hot sauce,” came the reply. ‘Brilliant,’ I thought, ''AP’ is back….’

Yet within a minute, I couldn’t focus on Partridge because I was transfixed by the understated physical comedy of Sidekick Simon, played by Tim Key. Simon clearly smokes a lot of weed; he has the ruffled hair, patchy beard and terrible shirt collection of a long-time stoner. It’s possible that his cousin/friend/brother is responsible for producing vast quantities of THC heavy skunk in Norfolk, and it’s nailed on that he is much cleverer than Alan. And Alan can’t handle it.

And the reasons are classic Partridge. Clearly, Simon has never worked in radio. In fact, if he has worked at all I can only imagine it being part time in somewhere like Greggs so he can take advantage of the free cakes at the end of the day. So you can see Alan’s thought process when they met in the pub. ‘This guy is funny in a surreal kind of way, though I’m not sure why, I’ll get him to sit next to me and by laughing at his jokes I’ll look like I’m current. And if I add the odd-one liner at the end, I really will be down with the kids.’ Except, as ever in the world of Norfolk’s premier radio personality, the opposite happens. If you haven’t see the episodes yet, I won’t spoil them, but here’s an early example to get you going…

It’s possible that his cousin/friend/brother is responsible for producing vast quantities of THC heavy skunk in Norfolk, and it’s nailed on that he is much cleverer than Alan. And Alan can’t handle it.

Anthea Turner

Anthea Turner is due to appear on the show and Alan can’t hide his excitement.

AP: “In less than one hour myself and sidekick Simon will come face-to-face with one of the most beautiful women in the world, Anthea ‘The Body’ Turner…”

SS: “Ooh, you like her then, do you Alan?”

AP: “What man doesn’t? Seriously, what man doesn’t?”

SS: “Oh no, hardly anyone.”

AP: “Exactly.”

SS: “Stevie Wonder…”

AP (laughing): “Or Ray Charles…”

SS: “Any Blind man.”

AP (Uncomfortable): “Ahh, ohh.. she is the Ford Escort Cabriolet of middle-aged women. Sleek, petite, a little bit racy…”

SS: “0% finance available…”

AP (Laughing): “It doesn’t even make sense, but it’s still funny, still surreally funny, which is why we’ve booked you…”

SS: “Power steering…”

AP (In over his head): “By the way please don’t text in, the woman/ car thing is exclusively for myself and Sidekick Simon, we’re just doing that… what’s that word you used the over day?”

SS: “Riffing…”

AP: “We’re riffing, we’re jamming…”

SS: “Riffing.”

If you’ve never seen Tim Key in anything else, then this subtlety of delivery and the little nuances he uses to make you piss yourself - all raised eyebrows, rolling of the eyes and the odd smirk - have long been a hallmark of his comedy. A darling of the Edinburgh Fringe for the last decade, some of his best stuff is the deliberately bad poetry that came to national attention through a slot on Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe. I knew that these Fosters commercials would leave me gagging for more Partridge, I just didn’t know that it would be because of a lumbering bloke wearing a shirt covered in marijuana leaves.

The Poetry of Tim Key

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