Extras (TV series)
|Created by||Ricky Gervais
|Written by||Ricky Gervais
|Directed by||Ricky Gervais
|Ending theme||"Tea for the Tillerman"
by Cat Stevens and
(special) Chris Martin
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||13 (List of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Single camera|
|Running time||30 mins (regular episodes)
90 mins (special)
|Original channel||BBC Two (UK) (series 1–2)
BBC One (UK) (special)
|Picture format||576i (PAL) (series 1–2)
1080i (HDTV) (special)
|Original run||21 July 2005– 27 December 2007|
Extras is a British sitcom about extras working in television and film sets and in theatre. The series was co-produced by the BBC and HBO, and is created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, both of whom also star in it. Extras charts the lives of Andy Millman, his friend Maggie Jacobs and Andy's substandard agent and part-time retail employee Darren Lamb, as Millman rises to fame.
Extras has two series of six episodes each as well as a Christmas Special. The first episode aired in the UK on 21 July 2005 on BBC Two and on 25 September 2005 on HBO in the US. The second series premiered in the UK on BBC Two on 14 September 2006 and began airing in the US on HBO and in Australia on ABC on 14 February 2007. The Christmas Special aired on 27 December 2007 on BBC One and on 16 December 2007 on HBO. Both series are available on DVD in the UK and the US.
The series is filmed in a more traditional sitcom style than the mockumentary style used by Gervais and Merchant in their previous series The Office. Each episode has at least one guest star; a television or film celebrity, who play what Gervais and Merchant have referred to as "twisted" versions of themselves; an exaggerated or inverted parody of their famous public personas.
The show has been critically acclaimed, and has a Metacritic score of 81/100.
Cast and characters
- Ricky Gervais as Andy Millman
- Ashley Jensen as Maggie Jacobs
- Stephen Merchant as Darren Lamb (credited as "Agent")
- Shaun Williamson as Barry from EastEnders (himself)
- Shaun Pye as Greg Lindley-Jones
There are 12 episodes in total, in addition to a 90-minute Christmas special.
When the first series was first broadcast in the UK, the episode featuring Ben Stiller was broadcast first, followed by the Ross Kemp and Vinnie Jones episode the following week. When the series was repeated over the Christmas holiday 2005, the episodes were returned to their intended order, with Ross Kemp first, followed by Stiller. The first series DVD, released in the UK on 31 October 2005, also preserves this same order, along with the Extras script book.
When the first series is shown in North America another order is used:
- Kate Winslet
- Ben Stiller
- Ross Kemp/Vinnie Jones
- Les Dennis
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Patrick Stewart
US and UK version differences
There were some subtle changes between the UK and US versions, with references to the names of British celebrities often being changed to American celebrities for the US edition. A scene featuring UK TV presenter Moira Stuart in episode 2.4 was completely excised from the US version and a song by Chris Martin replaced it; the latter was featured as a deleted scene on the DVD releases.
Changes in the Christmas special saw the talking "Jade Goody" doll replaced by a talking "Kramer" doll. (Both dolls parodied incidents where each celebrity said things publicly that were generally seen as racist.) The T-shirt in the studio audience depicting Victoria Wood and Asda is replaced in the US version by a T-shirt depicting Sigourney Weaver and DirectTV. A scene with George Michael was also truncated to remove references to UK celebrities Richard and Judy and Catherine Tate. A scene set in the Carphone Warehouse was edited to remove jokes referring to the long running BBC soap opera EastEnders.
In Season 2, episode 1, Keith Chegwin's anti-gay tirade includes the sentence "Men have knobs, women have fannies. Pop knob in fanny. Not up the arse." In British English "fanny" is a euphemism for vagina, while in American English "fanny" is a term for buttocks. A scene was shot, and aired in the US, in which Chegwin says "Men have dicks. Women have vaginas. Pop dick in vagina. Not up the bum."
When the Whistle Blows
When the Whistle Blows is the show-within-a-show sitcom created, co-written by and starring Andy Millman. It was first mentioned in episode 1.3, as a script that Millman had written and given to his agent who neglected to read it. The script was turned into a sitcom on BBC One in the first series finale, after Millman gave the script to Patrick Stewart. Excerpts from the sitcom are featured in the second series, and many of the Extras plotlines have revolved around Millman's experiences with the show.
When the Whistle Blows is set in a Wigan factory canteen. The humour is broad and lowbrow in the manner of many catchphrase-based sitcoms. The main catchphrase of the show, "Are you 'avin' a laugh?," is spoken by Millman. The show is unpopular with reviewers but popular with the public. It does receive a BAFTA nomination, although Millman suspects it is there simply to make up the numbers, and in the end it loses to an unspecified programme by Stephen Fry.
Millman is deeply unhappy with the show, feeling that too many people have interfered with his original ideas in the hunt for ratings. It appears that Millman originally set out to do a comedy similar to The Office, with true-to-life characters in a realistic work environment, without a studio audience or laughter track. The show has turned out to be the opposite of what he originally intended. The show is further debased by the unexplained guest appearance by Chris Martin of Coldplay, in episode 2.4, which bears no relation to the plot.
The presence of studio audiences/canned laughter, and the reliance on funny wigs, costumes and catchphrases for humour is a comment on recent comedy hits such as Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen. Many people that Millman sees at the recording of the pilot wear T-shirts displaying recent comedy catchphrases, such as "Wassup", "It's Chico Time", "I'm a lady!", "Am I bovvered?" and "Garlic bread?." (These shirts are not shown in the US version of Extras.) Some of the reviews that the show gets refer to it as a "time warp comedy", and Millman's character talks about 1970s catchphrases such as Mr Humphreys' "I'm Free" (from Are You Being Served?) and Frank Spencer's "Ooh Betty" (from Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em), suggesting that it is also partly sending up 1970s British comedy. In episode 2.5, Germaine Greer suggests that When the Whistle Blows is "sub Carry On".
The closing title track is called "Tea for the Tillerman", which is written and performed by Cat Stevens and is the title track of his album Tea for the Tillerman. The fourth episode of the second series of the show features a cover of the song performed by Chris Martin of Coldplay.
The song in the Christmas Special highlighting Maggie's depression after she hits bottom and quits acting is "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush. When Andy is having a bad time at the Ivy restaurant and leaves Maggie on her own, the Smiths song "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" can be heard.
Guest star cancellations and replacements
According to a segment in the extras section of the Series 1 DVD, Jude Law was scheduled to appear in one of the episodes, after meeting Gervais backstage on the Late Show with David Letterman, but had to pull out due to film commitments. This resulted in Gervais and Merchant having to scramble to find a replacement actor at the last minute, with Leonardo DiCaprio being considered. A featurette on the first series DVD release, "Finding Leo", consists of late-night video camera footage (shot mostly by Merchant) chronicling Gervais' fruitless and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to contact DiCaprio's manager. Law was ultimately replaced by Patrick Stewart in the series 1 finale, although a poster for the Jude Law film Alfie appeared at the end. Other actors who did not appear in Extras despite initial reports from Gervais that they would appear include Madonna, Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise.
Awards and nominations
|British Comedy Award||
|BANFF World Television Awards||
Overall, Extras has been received very well by critics in the UK. The show received 3 BAFTA Award nominations in 2006 including Best Comedy Performance for Ashley Jensen, Best Writer for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and Best Situation Comedy. In 2007, both Gervais and Merchant were nominated, separately, for Best Comedy Performance, with Gervais ultimately winning the award.
The show has also received high accolades in the US. In 2006, the show received four nominations for the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards. Ben Stiller and Patrick Stewart received nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series and both lost to Leslie Jordan on Will & Grace. Kate Winslet received a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and lost to Cloris Leachman for Malcolm in the Middle. Gervais and Merchant were also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the episode with Kate Winslet. They lost to Greg Garcia for writing the pilot episode of My Name Is Earl. In 2007, the show received four nominations for the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Gervais was nominated for and won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Ian McKellen was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Gervais and Merchant were also nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for "Daniel Radcliffe" and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for "Orlando Bloom". Extras made the Top 10 list of Outstanding Comedy Series, but was not nominated in the Top 5.
- HBO: Extras
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- HBO: Extras – Episode 12, Season 2
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- Lelane, Drake (18 December 2007). "Music on Extras: Fame's Fickle Finger". film.com. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
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- Williams, Lowri (2005-11-08). "Tom Cruise To Appear In Ricky Gervais' 'Extras'". Entertainmentwise. Retrieved 2008-08-29.