"When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind." So wrote Oscar Wilde (movingly) of his fall from grace - his de-bagging publicus - in the opening lines from his collection of letters "De Profundis".
"De Profundis" was a long (occasionally waffling) series of letters sent by Wilde from his prison cell to one of the numerous effete dandies that he often accompanied through many a debauched, sweaty evening in Victorian clubland. From his ignominious grief hole the not-so-dandy-now Wilde epistolized lamentingly the passing of his pomp, a pomp full of late nights spent lolling around Belgravia with perfumed men over-dressed in woolen frock coats, guffawing to the moon like hubristic wolves (gay wolves), sprawling themselves languriously over velvet chaise longues (long chairs), exchanging supercillious epigrams, drinking sherry, sniffing from bottles of opiates, drinking shots of discombobulating fatty acids, playing whiff-whaff. Indolently mincing about London in the last decade of HRH Queen Victoria's thronehood; flowing silk-twilled cravates trailing behind them like peculiar tails flapping in a homosexual breeze.
The parallels with Partridge are compelling. Like Wilde, Alan too fell from favour, except perhaps from a greater height. Wilde never came close to the acme of television, never breathed the fresh ozone present in BBC2's lofty evening line-up. Whilst Wilde was rugby tackled by the courts and landed in a gutter, left alone to look up at the stars in the night sky, Alan was tossed out of Eden (the bejewelled garden stretching from White City to Shepherds Bush) into a dour purgatory local radio existence, left alone to look up at the stars of light entertainment.
Alan and Oscar were both impugned by repressive establishment hegemonies for having the spunk to throw down gauntlets (for the religious leaders and puritanical parliamentarians of Wilde's era read the bloated ratings-obsessed television executives of Alan's time). Wilde was sent to prison for espousing the virtues of sex with po-faced dandies and Partridge was held on remand for prosletysing chat.
Alan had dared challenge ITN's leviathan-like behemoth News at Ten by making programmes full of innervating banter with leading light entertainment raconteurs (Oddie, Rea, "Shaky"); Wilde, meanwhile, had scandalized Victoria's Jerusalem by sodomizing gentlemen of standing then cock-a-doodle-dooing about it in the Daily Mails of the day.
Both men thorns; both men pricking England's soft comfort zones.
But, without giving away too much of the book, it is here that their fortunes diverge. Wilde ended up dead, smothered in his own lugubrious epistles, a broadcasting media-shaped hole in his heart. His gay heart. But Alan bounced back. His, as he famously used to say, is a pint.
This timeless book should be listed in the travel section. It is a roadmap, a satnav spoken in a rich Anglian brogue, which leads us, nay marches us, from the loneliness of one man doing Toblerones in a Dundee Odeon cinema toilet to the five-bedroomed, double-garaged global audience of internet-enabled digital radio, ePartridge. I, Partridge. We, Partridge.
There's a little bit of Alan inside everyone now (not in the Oscar Wilde sense) and I say Spiceworld to that.