Alan Partridge on Noel Edmonds He is a total wazzock and I cannot stand him

In an exclusive extract from his new book Nomad, Alan Partridge unpicks the many insults of his TV nemesis, from humiliation at the Our Price Christmas party to the shame of a BBC safety tutorial

People have always asked me, why do you hate Edmonds?(1) It makes me laugh. Ha!(2) I dont hate Edmonds. I dont give a shit about Edmonds. I hate the things he does, sure. I hate the way he behaves. I hate his personality and his appearance. But hate Edmonds himself ? No, sir. Wouldnt give him the satisfaction.

Our paths first crossed back in the late 80s at a Christmas cocktail party hosted by Our Price radio. I was one of the leading presenters on the popular instore-only station and, as such, was one of the first to arrive. Edmonds was already there and I strode over to say hi.

Alan Partridge! I announced, shaking his hand quickly and well.

Edmonds made some comment about us being unfashionably early. Ting! My brain snapped into comedy mode. I guess that makes you the First Nol! I quipped.

He didnt crack a smile. What?

The First Nol. Because its the name of a Christmas song and also because youre one of the first here and your names Nol.

Youre saying No-el. My names Noel.

I know that, Noel. But the song is the First No-el.

What song?

The First Nol.

Theres no such song. Id have heard of it.

There is such song, Noel.

Sing it, then.

Fine. I just need to remember how it goes.

You dont even know it.

I do know it, I just find it hard to remember melodies when Im flustered.

I launched into the song but still hadnt remembered the note sequence and ended up repeating the opening line again and again, in the hope of landing on the correct melody. By the 20th attempt a crowd had formed.

Whats he doing? said one woman.

Absolutely no idea, said Edmonds, laughing, and he walked off.

In many ways, this was his first Gotcha. A successful TV and radio star humiliating an impressionable young DJ for sport. It takes a special kind of pillock to do that.

And that was merely the beginning. In 1991, the Radio Times had a big bash to celebrate the deregulation of TV listings, which meant that, for the first time, the popular telly mag could publish listings not just for BBC channels, but for all major terrestrial, cable and satellite television channels in the UK. It was a seismic and hugely emotional event several of the staff were in tears and I believe it called for a little decorum. Not Edmonds. I was there with my then-wife Carol and he kept bringing her glasses of wine, even though Id said repeatedly, I think shes had quite enough, Noel! Hed nod as if to say, Right you are, Alan, and then Id turn round and hed be bringing Carol a fresh glass of the wine Id specifically said was off-limits.

Alan

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figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Alan Partridge in his Radio Norfolk days

That night, after Noel had royally torpedoed my chances of presenting Win, Lose or Draw by sniggering every time I offered my services to the shows producer, I got Carol home and would you believe it she was sick on the horseshoe-shaped mat that circles the foot of the toilet. This mat was quite new so needed scrubbing before a spell in the washing machine. And who do you think did the scrubbing? Was it Edmonds? No. It was Alan Partridge.

Incidents began to rack up. I agreed to commentate on a sheepdog display at the Norfolk country show. Edmonds had been booked to MC the closing concert that night, headlined by TPau, who were pretty much my favourite rock band at the time.

Halfway through the display, just as a dog was about to force some ducks up a ramp to the raised Wendy house they lived in, an almighty whoomp filled the sky. It was Edmonds in what he called his Noelicopter (actually just a helicopter). He was flying low, far too low, and I knew the ducks were about to spook.

Sure enough, two of them jumped down from the ramp while I screamed, Edmonds, climb! Edmonds, climb! into the microphone, which caused people near the speaker some distress and it took another minute for the sheepdog to get them back up, by which time Edmonds and his chopper had landed. I looked on as Carol Decker, the lead singer of TPau, hopped out, and they ran into the hospitality tent together before the rotors had even stopped whirring. They were both laughing their heads off.

Another time, he skidded in a gravelly car park, which fired fragments of shale in the direction of my car. None of it hit, thank God, but I was and am furious with him.

On another occasion, he found where I was holding my 50th birthday bash and, to sully the ambience, booked an all-male strip troupe(3), who frolicked around me dressed as American cops even though the theme was Louis XIV and Noel knew that.

It
It takes a special kind of pillock to do that … Noel Edmonds, left, with Mr Blobby of Noels House Party. Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar
But the nadir in our relationship came in a small room at the BBC. This was 1994 and, as presenters of live shows (him, the critically mauled
Noels House Party; me, the critically reviewed Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge), we were obliged to attend a safety tutorial for an afternoon.

Well, Edmonds made it clear he didnt want to be there and spent the first hour chewing gum and snorting whenever I put my hand up to ask a question or make a suggestion or agree with something. Nick Ross was there as well, and while I usually have a lot of time for Nick, he was trying to show off in front of Edmonds and acting like a complete arsehole, sniggering and saying, Yeah, Noel, whenever Edmonds made a snide comment.

After an hour, the tutors closed the curtains and we were instructed to watch a safety video. Edmonds thought this was soooooo beneath him. He thinks he knows all about safety, even though hes reckless enough to pilot helicopters while listening to the Airwolf theme tune on a Walkman. As soon as the lights dimmed, Edmonds stood up to go to the toilet (and no doubt fluff up his bouffant), which I thought was disrespectful to the course leaders, Gary and Larry. Sit down and watch the damn video, Edmonds, I hissed.

He pursed his lips into a homosexual ooh shape and sat down as the video flickered into life. Music started and then something started to dawn on me.

Actually, Noel, I said. You can go to the toilet. Ive changed my mind. If you want to go, go. Its fine, actually.

Like he needs your permission, snorted Nick Ross. Oh fuck off, Nick.

The opening music was ending.

Really, Noel. Honestly.

But Edmonds just sat there, looking at me, with his stupid Ewok head. The music was over and then I heard a familiar voice from the video: Just think! THINK. Think! T! Think about the dangers. H! How should I approach them? I! Im the one responsible. N! No excuses. K! Know whatcha doing!

Actually,
Actually, Noel, I said, you can go to the toilet. Ive changed my mind … Alan Partridge. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

I closed my eyes as Edmondss widened. The mans voice was mine. It was me. In a cruel twist of fate, the tutors had unwittingly put on a video fronted by me, one of a number of instructional and corporate videos Id put my face to over a bank holiday weekend the previous year. A friend, Arlo Gee, owned a corporate video company, Arlo Says Action, and offered me the gig, saying the fee was high and the time commitment low. So in a TV studio hed built in a converted barn, we managed to knock out 10 videos in three days, including: Be the Best Fire Warden, How Leaders Lead (and How Losers Lose), Identifying the Cancer that is Low Workforce Morale, and Tell Me About Debenhams.

But Think! was the one Id really thrown myself into, and the folly of that was now becoming apparent. For Edmonds, this was like Christmas had come early. I felt my rectum shrink back into me with embarrassment, not least because for a cash bonus Id rewritten some of the scripts to lend them some pizzazz and make them more memorable(4).

Edmonds put his feet up on the table and folded his arms, and for the next hour he roared with laughter at my nascent TV work. At one point he saw former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read walk past the door, and Edmonds invited him in, even though Read didnt even work at the BBC any more and had moved on to Gold, or Classic or something or one those other commercial stations with names that sound like a chocolate bar.

Read, Edmonds and (very much the Hammond of the three) Ross sat there and laughed at me every time I looked stern in a closeup or attempted an expansive gesture or shouted, Think!

I just watched them. It was an open secret that Read was a bit of a wally (this was before he outed himself as one by writing reggae songs for far-right political parties) and, of course, Edmonds was Edmonds. I felt fury building in me and eventually bolted from the room just as the closing recap song started. (All the videos ended on a song, another idea of mine, which in hindsight was a stupid and actually quite childish thing to do.)

To this day, Edmonds takes great delight in bringing up my corporate video work, seemingly certain hes never produced anything as embarrassing in his career. Er, Noels HQ? In summary, Edmonds is a total wazzock of a guy and I cannot stand him. But do I hate him? No.

(1) I wont dignify him with his full name. Besides, he signs his emails and legal letters Edmonds, so he started it.

(2) See?

(3) Doubly insulting was the fact that he had tracked down and hired Hot Pants, the very dance troupe I had erroneously invited on to my television chat show years earlier, having not realised that they were male exotic dancers and therefore totally inappropriate for a (predominantly) straight audience. The oversight had caused a stink among BBC top brass and not a little embarrassment to yours truly, which Edmonds knew full well. And there they were suggestively waggling truncheons (both types) in my face as I sat in my hired finery.

Side note: now older, wiser and saggier, Hot Pants still perform today but currently trade under the name Rs, purportedly because their members Ruud, Reggie, Rowan, Rory and Raffy all share that initial, but more likely because Rs sounds like arse and, as gay men, they find this amusing, a theory supported by their promotional material, which features a photograph of them in leather chaps, all pointing at their own buttocks and pouting. I bet Edmonds finds them hilarious.

(4) This was something I did quite a bit of early in my career. I remember amending marketing material when I was at Saxon Radio in Bury St Edmunds and realising I had something special. The blurb about my show was littered with overfamiliar references to Alan, and I was changing them all to Partridge or Mr Partridge when I became aware that I was also slightly improving the copy itself. For example, I changed the phrase latest chart music to freshest pop sounds and the best of our output to the cream of our discharge.

Alan Partridge: Nomad, by Alan Partridge with Steve Coogan, Rob Gibbons and Neil Gibbons, is published by Trapeze on 20 October. To order a copy for 16.40 (RRP 20) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99. Also available in audiobook.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/oct/16/alan-partridge-noel-edmonds-bbc-pillock

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