Alan Partridge stars in Norwich Christmas lights

Alan Partridge lights, Norwich
Image caption The display in Norwich city centre has 10,000 lights and 550 yards (500m) of light rope
Alan Partridge lights, Norwich
Image caption Crowds gathered in Partridge masks for the city's Christmas lights switch-on
Alan Partridge lights, Norwich
Image caption As well as laser beam eyes, the Partridge display mimes to the Roachford song Cuddly Toy

Norwich lit up a Christmas lights display in tribute to Steve Coogan's fictional radio DJ Alan Partridge.

People turned out to see the illuminations be switched on by television presenter Jake Humphrey on Thursday night.

But a message was read to the crowd apologising for the absence of Partridge at the event.

The crowd was told the character was the "designated driver" at a pub quiz, and could not attend.

The light display includes a 30ft (9m) high sculpture featuring Partridge's face.

It 'sings' Roachford's late 1980s hit Cuddly Toy, which the character sang in the movie Alpha Papa.

Image caption After his BBC television career ended, Partridge got a job in local radio

'Trouser press'

Actor Simon Greenall, who played the character of Michael in the I'm Alan Partridge BBC television series, read a message on behalf of the character.

It said: "Dear people of Norwich, and to a lesser extent anyone here from Suffolk - welcome!

"I'm genuinely heartbroken not to be there with you, but it's quiz night at the Rose & Crown and I'm the designated driver.

"You're about to witness the biggest turning on of lights since the end of the three-day week.

"The electricity used to power the illuminations is enough to run a trouser press for over 25 years.

"Instead, it's powering an LED effigy of my face and body, lighting up the Christmas night just as the Archangel Gabriel did over two thousand years ago.

"I hope you have a wonderful festive season. A-ha."

Ben Ayers, from Blinkbox, the company behind the display, said: "We wanted to make a Christmas statement that would match Alan's enormous ego."

The character grew up in Norwich and returned to work in Norfolk at various points in his fictional career.

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