City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Alan Partridge’s Rover 200 fascia control system

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Everyday Interaction Design Classics #5

This is a little different to other entries in the highly occasional Everyday Interaction Design Classics series. I’m Alan Partridge Series One DVD extras had a ‘quite superb’ additional play-let, entirely improvised between Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) and Felicity Montagu (his personal assistant, Lynn). Within which, Alan, perhaps unwittingly though you never know, gives Lynn a short lesson in creating a hierarchy of alerts within interaction design. That’s not quite how he put it, but …

The scene is the Linton Travel Tavern car-park. Alan is bored. He’s called Lynn into the car for some “paid conversation”. He’s further exasperated as he doesn’t know why his Rover 200 makes an alarm noise when he turns the key in the ignition. For the last ten minutes, he’s been exploring the possible reasons for the alarm. Lynn’s suggestions serve only to force Alan to explain a few things about in-car control systems, both on the ideal way to articulate non-urgent alerts which don’t serve to distract from primary tasks and when to recognise that a non-essential feature is not worth building alerts for …

Amazingly, a replica Alan Partridge-themed Rover 200 for sale

Elsewhere, on Everyday Interaction Design Classics
#1 The ‘progress bar’ on the Voice-O-Graph in ‘Badlands’
#2 The big pink arrow from ‘Grand Theft Auto’
#3 The ‘A Bit More’ button on the Breville Professional 800 Collection 4-slice Toaster
#4: The Melnikov House intercom system
#5: Alan Partridge’s Rover 200 fascia control system
This post was first published at, on 31 August 2006.


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