Cars in Film : Alan Partridge

Played superbly by Steve Coogan, this larger-than-life portrayal of sports presenter, turned chat show host, turned Radio Norwich presenter is one that is now firmly entrenched in the British comedy mainstream.

The character of Partridge is a grotesque parody, and yet we cannot help but find him outrageously funny, even if it is at the expense of others. Being an eternal cynic, with an unfounded sense of self-importance, it seemed only logical that his car of choice should be similarly ‘mutton-dressed-as-lamb’.

And what model better sums that up than the Mk2 Rover 800, as featured in the Christmas Special, Knowing Me, Knowing Yule, as well as the series, I’m Alan Partridge, which charted his fall from the bright lights of a chat show presenter on BBC2’s primetime 9:00pm slot to his lower profile life as a DJ on Radio Norwich’s graveyard shift.

Here is a selection of images of his flirtation with the 800… and its replacement.

Father Partridge
So what did Alan Partridge like to get up to on his days off at the height of his career? After shopping at Tandy, there was nothing better than going to Norwich hospital to donate old toys to needy children. It’s a good job he had his Rover ‘Veet-esse’ fastback for such missions of mercy – a nice big boot for the toys and an automatic gearbox ‘for those tricky hill starts’.
Partridge on a mission
It’s 1997, and Alan has traded is his Vitesse for a KV6 Sterling, a suitably grandiose car for a presenter looking to get his second series in the bag. Luckily, this late-spec Sterling boasted a CD multi-changer and sweet speaker set-up, as Partridge was more than a little eclectic with his music collection. Only a true connoisseur would be brave enough to admit that ‘Wings were only the group the Beatles could have been’.
Obscene publication with alloys
Tagged! “Sub-human scum” show Partridge what they think of him by decorating his car in a not too pleasant way. Luckily the Linton Travel Tavern’s porter, Michael, had the presence of mind to edit the scrawl to read, ‘COOK PASS BABTRIDGE’. Here, at a meeting with Tony Hayers of the BBC, Partridge learns he won’t be getting his second series. Just as well: had he kept the Sterling, KV6 heartache would not be too far away.
Monkey Tennis?
Now a second series of KMKYWAP is out of the question, Partridge needs to trade down. ‘I’m not driving a Mini Metro’, Alan tells his long-suffering PA, and such is his conviction that given the choice between Rover’s smallest car and keeping Peartree Productions open, or taking a 200 and closing the company, he chooses the latter. Here we see Partridge on his headset (prescient or what?) planning future ventures…
Round in circles
Bored and depressed, Alan takes to driving around the Norwich ring road in his 200. Sadly, he dislikes the plastic steering wheel with its embossed Rover logo, and finds it less entertaining than buying himself some screws from the local DIY store. As he tells Lynn, ‘Never going to use them… never going to use them’.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Alpha Papa

For the 2012 cinema release of Steve Coogan’s creation, we see the star of the show moving to Kia, via previous runs in products from Lexus, Toyota and Vauxhall, leaving his assistant, Lynne, to carry the torch with her lovely 1985 Austin Metro City X, complete with Supercover sticker…

Thanks to Andrew Carr for the pictures.

Keith Adams


  1. Rover area sales manager dressed as Father Christmas..

    “What make of car goes woof woof”

    Alan: “Help me out here Mike”

    Father Christmas: “Erm… a Vauxhall Labrador”

  2. Sorry, but can’t resist…

    “Lynne I’m not driving a Mini Metro!”
    “No, it’s different, it’s called the Rover Metro now”
    “They’ve rebadged it, you fool!”

  3. Admittedly I never liked the character as Steve Coogan clearly used the series as an opportunity to belittle British cars, particularly those wearing the Rover badge. Clearly a Ferrari-driving actor does not consider how his script writing and following the outdated 1970’s trend of belittling British products, shows little support towards British manufacturing jobs.

    As Paul T says, the Rover 800 Vitesse Fastback was actually a very good car.

  4. Lynn: It’s a Rover 100 Alan!

    Alan: They’ve just re-badged it you fool!!

    200 later replaced by a Lexus:

    ‘It’s the Japanese Mercedes!’

  5. I like the bit where he’s pondering whether to sack his PA, Lynn, so that he can afford air-con on his Rover 200, but decides to keep her when she promises to keep him cool by holding a battery powered fan to his face.

    If I had a Rover 800 I would be sorely tempted to spray “Cock Piss Partridge” down the side!

  6. “When Lynn suggests Alan could save Pear Tree Productions by driving a Mini Metro, Alan: ‘No! Go on, try and finish the sentence and see what I do. Go on.’ Lynn: ‘With a skeleton staff of two –’ Alan: ‘I’m not driving a mini-Metro, I’m not driving a mini-Metro, I’m not driving a mini-Metro.’ ”


  7. @ David 3500

    I can understand why you might think that the use of the Rovers in this comedy might be seen to be belittling the cars, but it slightly misses one of the facets of Alan Partridge (although I do concede that being a blazer-wearer might give the impression he was made to look a stereotype of the average Rover owner).

    He was staunchly patriotic and very proud to be British. The use of cars from the last UK-based and owned car builder (Rover) up to and including the first series of ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ kind of fits in with this attitude of his – neither Ford nor Vauxhall would have done being owned by ‘Yanks’!

  8. Before anyone corrects me, I did mean the last UK based and owned VOLUME car builder. My apologies for the lack of clarity!

  9. It’s hard to tell but Alan has a Vauxhall Vectra during the flashback when he drove to Dundee in bare feet while comfort eating Toblerones.

  10. @ Richard 16378

    That was in series 2 in 2004, so maybe MG Rover hadn’t been too keen on gifting the BBC any more cars by then (or couldn’t afford to…).

    I think eating Toblerones is probably the most interesting thing you can do in Dundee, tbh…….

  11. There’s a Montego estate in the scene where Alan shouts Dan! to try & get the attention of his fellow Lexus driving friend.

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