Books: The character of Alan Partridge first appeared as a sports commentator on radio and TV. Subsequently he's had a failed chatshow in both media, been the subject of a couple of fly-on-the-wall documentary series, streamed his North Norfolk Digital radio show over the internet and telly, hosted some specials for Sky, starred in a film and written a couple of books. Basically, he's become a continuity nightmare on the scale of the DC Comics universe. Luckily, he's currently in the excellent hands of Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons, who've been collaborating with Steve Coogan on the writing of all things Partridge since 2010. They've brought two interesting new approaches to the character: firstly an acknowledgement that the ageing process has changed his attitude to life subtly, and secondly a determination to pull all of the previous Partridge incarnations into a single unified canon. Their latest work, the book Nomad (just out in paperback), does both of these with glorious aplomb. It's the story of Alan's attempt to walk from Norwich to Dungeness, recreating a key incident from his father's life, and doing it in the distinctive voice of one of the most unreliable narrators you could hope for. There's a proper novel in here alongside all the jokes, and one which takes care to integrate this tale into what we already know about Partridge's life, at one point dedicating an entire chapter to a speed novelisation of the Alpha Papa movie. It's an excellent addition to the Partridgeverse, and should set us up nicely for the potential awkwardness of his rumoured return to the BBC next year.
Internet: I've got a new PC! Which means I've spent most of the past week rebuilding chunks of my digital life from scratch, including my iTunes database. Which led me to thinking about the podcasts I'm currently subscribed to. In case any of you might be interested, here's what my feed now looks like after some discreet pruning.
- The Adam Buxton Podcast - great jingles, as you'd expect: what's more unexpected is how good an interviewer Dr Buckles has become over the few years he's been running this podcast.
- Answer Me This! - Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann answer the questions that you can't be arsed to research yourself on Google.
- Athletico Mince - accidentally omitted from the first version of this list, it's Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson's sort-of-football-but-not-really podcast.
- BBFC Podcast - sometimes a little dry, but a fascinating series of case studies looking at how film certification has changed over the decades.
- Bigmouth - a weekly round table of reviews from some of the people behind the late lamented Word magazine.
- The Bugle - Andy Zaltzman and a rotating pool of guests (including his aforementioned sister Helen) attempt to have fun with the week's news, no matter how impossible that might seem at the moment.
- Distraction Pieces - Like Adam Buxton, Scroobius Pip's evolved into an excellent interviewer, most recently persuading Goldie to let slip the real identity of Banksy (or did he?).
- Dumb White Guy - comedian Brendon Burns in a podcast that's 50% talking to other comedians about race and gender issues, and 50% navel-gazing about his own attitudes to them (sometimes recorded in bed with his wife).
- Fatal Attractions - the artist formerly known as FilmFan hosts a weekly discussion on tacky erotic thrillers from the 80s and 90s.
- Jesse vs Cancer - Jesse Case, former host of Probably Science (see below), was diagnosed with 'stage 4 ass cancer of the ass' two years ago. This is him talking about it, and anything else that comes to mind. Funnier than it sounds, honestly.
- The Mike Harding Folk Show - the first podcast I ever subscribed to, mainly because I admired how Harding recovered from being sacked from Radio 2's folk show by relocating the whole thing to his garden shed.
- Page 94 - Private Eye's podcast, which (like their website) is made up of backup material relating to what's been recently covered in the magazine, a strategy that's made them one of the few dead tree operations still in profit.
- Planet Maynard - a mishmash of stuff held together by Australian DJ Maynard. The best episodes are the Bunga Bunga strand, co-hosted with Tim Ferguson of the Doug Anthony All Stars.
- Probably Science - Andy Wood and Matt Kirschen talk about science with experienced scientists and way-out-of-their-depth comics.
- Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast - Herring's shambolic natters with comedians and media people always have their moments. Coming up this month: his uncomfortable reunion with estranged podcast partner Andrew Collins.
- Skylines - the latest addition to my feed, a series of discussions relating to the CityMetric website and its features about world cities.
- SPEKTRMODULE - Warren Ellis' irregular mixtapes of ambient music.
- Vitriola - Robin Ince and Michael Legge talking swearily about music both old and new.
I'll be reviewing the MIF for MostlyFilm this month, as has become traditional: I should also have a second piece appearing there about my recent adventures in the Middle East. Meanwhile, over here, I'll keep on trying to get on top of the backlog of travel writing that's been building up since our big holiday. How much of that will actually get done? Well, let's wait and see. Feel free to shout encouragement from the comments box below if you like.