Ricky Gervais

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Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais 2010.jpg
Gervais at Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars" in 2010
Birth name Ricky Dene Gervais
Born (1961-06-25) 25 June 1961 (age 53)
Whitley, Berkshire, England
Medium Stand-up, television, film, radio
Years active 1982–present
Genres Cringe comedy, insult comedy, musical comedy, black comedy
Influences Steve Coogan, Billy Connolly, Chris Langham, Stephen Merchant, Garry Shandling, Jerry Sadowitz, Larry David, Woody Allen, Laurel and Hardy, Paul Merton, Christopher Guest, Groucho Marx,[1] Peter Richardson, John Cleese, George Carlin
Partner(s) Jane Fallon
(1982–present)
Website rickygervais.com
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Comedy Series
2006 The Office
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
2007 Extras
Golden Globe Awards
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
2008 Extras
Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy
2004 The Office

Ricky Dene Gervais (/ərˈvz/; born 25 June 1961) is an English comedian, actor, voice actor, film director, producer, musician, screenwriter, and former radio presenter.

Gervais worked initially in the music industry, attempting a career as a pop star in the 1980s with Seona Dancing and working as the manager of Suede before turning to comedy. In 2000, he was given a Channel 4 talk show, Meet Ricky Gervais, and then achieved greater mainstream fame a year later with his BBC television series The Office. It was followed by Extras in 2005. He co-wrote and co-directed both series with Stephen Merchant. In addition to writing and directing the shows, Gervais played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. Gervais has also starred in Hollywood films Ghost Town, The Invention of Lying and Muppets Most Wanted. He has performed on four sell-out stand-up comedy tours, written the best-selling Flanimals book series and starred with Merchant and Karl Pilkington in the most downloaded podcast in the world as of March 2009,[2] The Ricky Gervais Show. More recently, he hosted the Golden Globe Awards consecutively between 2010 and 2012.[3]

Gervais has won seven BAFTA Awards, five British Comedy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two Emmy Awards and the 2006 Rose d'Or, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. In 2007 he was voted the 11th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and again in the updated 2010 list as the 3rd greatest stand-up comic.[4] In 2010 he was named on the Time 100 list of the world's most influential people.[5]

Early life[edit]

Gervais, along with siblings Larry (born 1945), Marsha (born 1948), and Bob (born 1950),[6] was born and brought up in Whitley, Berkshire, England. His father, Lawrence Raymond "Jerry" Gervais (1919–2002), a Franco-Ontarian from London, Ontario, Canada, emigrated while on foreign duty during the Second World War and worked as a labourer and hod carrier.[7] Jerry Gervais met Ricky's mother, Eva Sophia (née House; 1925–2000),[8][9] who was English, during a blackout,[10] got married in 1944,[9] and they settled in Whitley. She died, aged 74, of lung cancer.[11] Gervais has said that he has distant Iroquois ancestry on his father's side.[12][13]

During Xfm London's The Ricky Gervais Show, and in further newspaper interviews with The Independent, Gervais noted that he believes his birth was unplanned, due to the age difference between his oldest sibling and himself. During one interview with The Independent, Gervais tells the author that even his mother admitted his birth was unplanned.[14] Gervais has stated that his upbringing and childhood were stable and trauma-free, with a high level of honesty and openness between his family members. He claims that his family, "much like The Waltons", made fun of each other regularly.[15]

Gervais grew up in a working class family and lived in an estate.[7][16] He attended Whitley Park Infants and Junior Schools and received his secondary education at Ashmead Comprehensive School, and, after a spell as a gardener at the town's university, moved on to University College London in 1980.[17] He arrived to study biology but changed to philosophy after only two weeks,[18] and earned an upper second-class honours degree in the subject.[19] During his time at UCL, he met Jane Fallon, with whom he has been in a relationship since 1982.[20]

Career[edit]

Music[edit]

In 1983, during his final year as a student at UCL (University College London), Gervais and Bill Macrae formed the new wave pop duo, Seona Dancing. They were signed by London Records, which released two of their singles—"More to Lose" and "Bitter Heart". The singles failed to break into the top 75, with "More to Lose" charting at No.117 and "Bitter Heart" peaking at No.79 on the UK Singles Chart, so they do not feature in The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. Despite not being successful in the UK, Seona Dancing did manage to score a hit in the Philippines with "More to Lose". According to 20 December 2003 broadcast of the Ricky Gervais Show, Gervais later had a band called the Sacred Hearts, which Ian Camfield described as Gervais's "Bon Jovi phase".[citation needed] Gervais also worked as the manager for Suede before they became successful in the 1990s.[21]

In 2013, Gervais performed a live tour as David Brent along with a band under the name "Foregone Conclusion". Gervais and the band performed songs written under the Brent character including songs such as "Equality Street" and "Free Love Freeway".[22]

Radio[edit]

Gervais later worked as an assistant events manager for the University of London Union (ULU),[23] where he continued working until he took a similar job as "head of speech" at XFM London.[24]

Needing an assistant, Gervais interviewed the first person whose curriculum vitae he saw. The CV belonged to Stephen Merchant. During the interview at a local pub, Merchant agreed to do "all the boring stuff" because of his experience in media studies while Gervais "mess[ed] around".[25] In 1998 Gervais was made redundant[citation needed] when the station was taken over by the Capital Radio group.

Gervais was music adviser for the BBC drama This Life, which was being produced by his girlfriend, Jane Fallon. He and Merchant also contributed sketches to BBC Radio 1's The Breezeblock in 1999 and 2000.

After the first series of The Office, Gervais and Merchant returned to Xfm in November 2001 for a Saturday radio show. The show ran intermittently until 2 July 2005 (the day of the Live 8 concerts) with breaks of 1–3 months between new shows. This was when the pair first worked with Karl Pilkington, who produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts.

Podcast[edit]

On 5 December 2005 Guardian Unlimited began offering free weekly podcasts featuring Gervais, Merchant, and Pilkington. Throughout January and February 2006 the podcast was consistently ranked the number-one podcast in the world; it appeared in the 2007 Guinness World Record for the world's most-downloaded podcast, having gained an average of 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month.[2] On 20 February 2006, after the conclusion of the twelve-podcast series, it was announced that all future episodes would be available from Audible.com at a "nominal fee" (later, these had to be called audiobooks in accordance with iTunes policy). Two more series—-each with six podcasts—-were released between February and September 2006.

In late 2006 three more free podcasts were released. Together called "The Podfather Trilogy", they debuted individually at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These three were known by Ricky and Steve as "The Fourth Season" and were heavily influenced by 'The APAB Podcast', also released through iTunes. In October 2007 another free full-length podcast was released through iTunes; this podcast was originally given out for free during a performance of Gervais's Fame tour in London. On 25 November 2007 Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington released another free full-length podcast, which lasted just over an hour.

In August 2008 Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington recorded their fifth season of audiobooks, totalling 4 chapters, which were released on 16 September 2008. These audiobooks were described as the 'guide to...' series, covering several topics. As of May 2011, there are 12 "Guides" in total: Medicine, Natural History, Arts, Philosophy, The English, Society, Law & Order, The Future, The Human Body, The Earth, The World Cup 2010 & Comic Relief. The conversations typically begin on topic, but constantly stray away from the topic at hand.

Television[edit]

Gervais at the 60th British Academy Film Awards in 2007

Gervais has contributed to the BAFTA-winning The Sketch Show (ITV), penning several sketches. His mainstream-TV debut came in September 1998 as part of Channel 4's "Comedy Lab" series of pilots. His one-off show Golden Years focused on a David Bowie–obsessed character called Clive Meadows. Gervais then came to much wider national attention with an obnoxious, cutting persona featured in a topical slot that replaced Ali G's segments on the satirical Channel 4 comedy programme The 11 O'Clock Show in early 1999, in which his character used as many expletives as was possible and produced an inordinate amount of politically incorrect statements. Among the other regular featured comedians on the show was Mackenzie Crook, later a co-star of The Office. Two years later, Gervais went on to present his own comedy chat show for Channel 4 called Meet Ricky Gervais; it was poorly received and has since been mocked by Gervais himself. The Independent newspaper has described Gervais as "obsessed by his own celebrity", but adds, "Who wouldn't want to be Peter Lawford in a comedy Rat Pack?" in reference to Ricky Gervais Meets...; the article, however, also describes him as "a very funny man" who "created one of the great sitcoms".[26] The Guardian's Chris Tryhorn explained the "few gripes" he had with Extras, "particularly in the second series". "You can forgive Gervais a certain arrogance after the success of The Office, but..." He remarks on the confused tone of the series, taking in the clash between the broad comedy of characters Barry (Shaun Williamson) and Darren (Stephen Merchant), and the apparent parody of this style with When The Whistle Blows, and "given their total indulgence of Gervais, the BBC is portrayed as interfering, its comedy department run by a rather crudely stereotyped gay couple".[27]

Throughout this time, Gervais also wrote for the BBC sketch show Bruiser and The Jim Tavare Show, and he had a cameo role in Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes's sitcom, Spaced, as Dave. Pegg later joked that Dave was a younger David Brent and that he and Hynes were the real minds behind The Office. Gervais also appeared in a few of Channel 4's 'Top 100...' list programmes, and he voiced the character of Penguin in Robbie the Reindeer's Legend of the Lost Tribe. His voice was redubbed for the US market.

On 5 January 2006 he interviewed Larry David in a one-off special, Ricky Gervais Meets... Larry David. On 25 and 26 December of the same year Channel 4 aired similar specials in which he interviewed the actor/comedian Christopher Guest and comedian Garry Shandling. There are no plans for further episodes of Meets..., although editions with John Cleese and Matt Groening were recorded in 2006 for broadcast in 2007. A source claimed, "The Shandling experience put him off for good".[28]

Gervais guest-starred in an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife", which aired on 26 March 2006 in the United States, on 23 April 2006 on satellite station Sky One in the United Kingdom (first appearing on terrestrial television in 2010), and on 18 July 2006 in Australia. He is the only British comic to write and star in a Simpsons episode. The episode was the highest rated in Sky One's history; it revolved around the angle that Gervais was the episode's sole writer (and the first guest star on the show to also receive a writing credit for the episode of his appearance). Gervais clarified the extent of his input in a joint interview (with Christopher Guest) for Dazed and Confused magazine (January 2006): "No, all I did was put down a load of observations on an email and they made it look like a Simpsons script. I'm going to get the credit, but I think everyone in the industry knows it was a joint effort". Asked in a separate interview about how his idea for the episode (in which Homer swaps Marge on a game show) came about, Gervais replied:

I've always been fascinated with reality game shows but I think it was my girlfriend's idea. We watch Celebrity Big Brother at the moment, we watch I'm a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here... we watch all those reality TV shows — The Office came out of those docu-soaps".[29]

Gervais, a longstanding Simpsons fan, presented a segment to mark the show's 20th anniversary on BBC Two's The Culture Show on 16 June 2007. Gervais has also guest-starred on Alias (appearing in the third-season episode "Façade") as Daniel Ryan, a former Royal Navy bomb-disposal specialist turned rogue Irish Republican Army bomb-maker. He has said about the appearance, "I did an episode of Alias, and I can't watch it. Me being serious. I can't watch it".

Gervais made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live in a Digital Short during which he joked that The Office was adapted from a Japanese programme of the same name (with Steve Carell reprising his role as Michael Scott). The sketch re-creates scenes from the American and British pilot episode with Japanese elements (although in an exaggerated way). "It's funny", Gervais laughs at the end, "because it's racist".

In January 2009, Gervais was interviewed by James Lipton for Season 15 of BravoTV's Inside the Actors Studio.

In January 2010 he hosted the 67th Golden Globe Awards, making him the first master of ceremonies since 1995. He stated:
"I have resisted many other offers like this, but there are just some things you don't turn down."[30]

His performance as host received a mixed response with positive reviews from the New York Daily News and the Associated Press, but also some negative comments from The Hollywood Reporter.[31][32] He returned to host the show again in 2011 and 2012, and his performance was more warmly received by critics.

Gervais was a guest judge on Jerry Seinfeld's NBC show The Marriage Ref alongside Larry David and Madonna.[33] On 1 April 2010 Gervais made his first appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC.

In June 2010 it was announced that Gervais had been cast in the upcoming Season 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm playing himself.[34]

As of September 2013, he has made 25 guest appearances on Late Show with David Letterman on the CBS network.

The Office[edit]

In August 1999, while on a BBC production course, Stephen Merchant had to make his own short film. He chose to make a docu-soap parody, set in an office. This sketch later formed the basis of the interview episode.[35] With help from Ash Atalla, Merchant passed this tape on to the BBC's Head of Entertainment Paul Jackson at the Edinburgh Fringe, who then passed it on to Head of Comedy Jon Plowman, who eventually commissioned a full-pilot script from Merchant and Gervais.

The first six-episode series of The Office aired in the UK in July and August 2001 to little fanfare or attention.[36] Word-of-mouth, repeats, and DVDs helped spread the word, building up momentum and anticipation for the second series, also comprising six episodes, in September 2002.[37] The second series topped the BBC Two ratings, and the show then switched to BBC One in December 2003 for its final two special episodes.

The Office has since been remade for audiences in Sweden, France, Germany, Quebec, Brazil and the United States. Gervais and Merchant are producers of the American version, and they also co-wrote the episode "The Convict" for the show's third season. The original UK version is currently[when?] airing on Adult Swim on Fridays, and prior to the show's airing, Gervais appears as himself talking about the episode that will air. In one of those segments Gervais has said that the episode "Training" is his favourite. He was in a sketch on Comic Relief 2013 as his character David Brent.

In May 2013, Gervais introduced "Learn Guitar with David Brent" web series on his YouTube channel.

Extras[edit]

Main article: Extras (TV series)

Extras had its debut on the BBC on 21 July 2005; it received its premiere on HBO in the United States in September 2005. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the sitcom ran for twelve episodes and starred Gervais as Andy Millman, a background artist. Millman is more self-aware and intentionally humorous than Gervais's The Office character David Brent.

Guest stars on the first series of Extras include Ross Kemp, Les Dennis, Patrick Stewart, Vinnie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Francesca Martinez. A second series began on 14 September 2006 in the UK and featured appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Chris Martin, Keith Chegwin, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Richard Briers, Patricia Potter, Sophia Myles, Moira Stuart, David Bowie, Kate Winslet, Robert De Niro and Jonathan Ross.

Gervais (right) with Jonathan Ross at Live 8 in July 2005

A Christmas special of Extras aired on 27 December 2007 in the UK and on 16 December 2007 in the US, featuring guest appearances by George Michael, Clive Owen, Gordon Ramsay, Jonathan Ross and David Tennant.

Some[who?] have suggested that Gervais is influenced by Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Larry Sanders Show in making Extras, particularly in the format of celebrities making fools of themselves or subverting their public personas,[27] and in the Gervais joke of someone making inappropriate remarks in front of a member of a minority group. He has interviewed both Larry David and Garry Shandling, creators of these shows, on Ricky Gervais Meets....

Extras was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy on 14 January 2008. Gervais also won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

In February 2007 ventriloquist Keith Harris refused an invitation to appear on the second series of Extras. He said, "[Gervais] wanted me to be a racist bigot ... I read the script and thought, this isn't clever writing, it's pure filth. I turned it down. I'm not desperate."[38] When asked about Harris's refusal on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Gervais claimed that Harris simply "didn't get it".[39] Keith Chegwin, who assumed the role offered to Harris, said "the people who didn't get it probably think Johnny Depp really is a pirate."[40]

The Ricky Gervais Show (animated series)[edit]

The Ricky Gervais Show is an animated TV show that debuted on US cable network HBO on 19 February 2010.[41][42] In the UK, the first series began airing on 23 April 2010 on Channel 4. The show was developed using original podcast recordings from The Ricky Gervais Show starring Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. After receiving a loyal and enthusiastic following in the US, Cable channel HBO recommissioned the show for a second series, which aired in 2011,[43] and a third series which started airing in April 2012.

The original audio show was broadcast in November 2001 on radio station Xfm, and aired in weekly periods for months at a time throughout 2002, 2003, 2004 and mid-2005. In November 2005 Guardian Unlimited offered the show as a podcast series of 12 shows.[44] Throughout January and February 2006 the podcast was ranked the number one podcast in the world; it appeared in the 2007 Guinness World Record for the world's most downloaded podcast, having gained an average of 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month.[45][46] By September 2006, according to the BBC, the podcasts of the series had been downloaded "nearly 8 million" times.[47]

Life's Too Short[edit]

Main article: Life's Too Short

In April 2010 it was announced that Gervais and Stephen Merchant would be writing a new show, an observational sitcom series called Life's Too Short, from an idea by Warwick Davis. It is described by Gervais as being about "the life of a showbiz dwarf" and as "a cross between Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm and One Foot in the Grave but with a dwarf. That is out and out funny."[48]

The show stars actor Warwick Davis playing a fictionalised version of himself, as well as Gervais and Merchant in cameo roles as themselves.[49][50] The show began airing on BBC Two on 10 November 2011.[51][52] Premium cable channel HBO, who co-produced the series with the BBC, have the US rights and began airing the series on 19 February 2012.[53][54]

Derek[edit]

Main article: Derek (TV series)

In November 2011, Gervais filmed in London a 35-minute pilot episode for a potential comedy-drama series called Derek, which aired on Channel 4 on 12 April 2012.[55][56] The pilot is solely written and directed by Gervais and features him in the title role of Derek Noakes, a 49-year-old retirement home worker, who "loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop and Britain's Got Talent – but his main hobby is autograph hunting". The character first appeared as an aspiring comedian who loves animals and still lives with his mother in a 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe sketch.[57][58] Gervais's co-host Karl Pilkington makes his acting debut as Derek's friend and facilities-caretaker Dougie who also works in the retirement home. British comedian Kerry Godliman plays Derek's best friend Hannah and David Earl plays Kev. The episode is produced by Charlie Hanson.[59]

Gervais said that the series is about "kindness [being] more important than anything else". He added "It’s about the forgotten – everyone’s forgotten. It’s all these arbitrary people who didn’t know each other, and they’re in there now because they’re in the last years of their life. And it’s about the people who help them, who themselves are losers and have their own problems. It’s about a bunch of people with nothing, but making the most of it, and they’re together."[60] He chose to set the sitcom in a retirement home after he watched Secret Millionaire – "It was always these people with huge problems who were helping other people. I thought about having Derek help old people because no one cares about old people in this country... I think it's perfect for now."[61]

On 9 May 2012, Channel 4 announced that it had commissioned a full series of Derek to air in early 2013.[62]

On 4 March 2013, it was announced that Derek was re-commissioned for a second series.[63] The second series premiered on 23 April 2014.

Stand-up comedy[edit]

Gervais made some attempts at stand-up in the late 1990s, but his first successful show took place at the Cafe Royal, as part of the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Titled Rubbernecker, the show also featured Jimmy Carr, Robin Ince and Stephen Merchant.

Gervais later toured the UK in 2003 with his stand-up show Animals. The Politics tour followed a year later. Both of these shows were recorded for release on DVD and television broadcast. The third part of the themed live trilogy, Fame, took place in 2007. It started in Glasgow in January and ended in Sheffield in April. Blackpool reported selling out of tickets within 45 minutes of them going on sale.[64] More dates were added.

Gervais performing in 2007

Newsnight Review's panel saw Animals during its Bloomsbury run and covered it in January 2003. They were not favourable, with Private Eye editor Ian Hislop being the most explicit in his criticism.[65] After this, Gervais closed each show by calling Hislop an "ugly little pug-faced cunt". Further coverage on Newsnight Review has been overwhelmingly favourable, with the panellists playing themselves in promos for the second series of Extras. Panel regulars Germaine Greer, Mark Kermode and Mark Lawson also appeared as themselves reviewing When The Whistle Blows in a series episode. Critic Mark Lawson is a great admirer of Gervais and Merchant, having interviewed them extensively for television, print Front Row, and the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Fame was the subject of some controversy in January 2007 when Gervais told a story, ostensibly about how people will do anything to become famous, to a Scottish audience.[66] The story referred to a question asked of Gervais five years earlier by a reporter: what could someone do to become famous like you? To which he replied, "Go out and kill a prostitute". He followed up with the punch line, "I won't do that bit in Ipswich", referring to the December 2006 murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich. The joke drew criticism from the father of victim Tania Nicol: "These days, they want to make a joke out of anything. I feel he's just being uncaring, quite honestly". Gervais defended himself: "I do want people to know that that happened five years ago and is not related to anything now. That is the problem with comedy, a joke that is funny today can be a terrible faux pas tomorrow".

Gervais's fourth show was entitled Science, and commenced with an eleven date tour in August 2009 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow.[67] The show opened to little critical praise.[68] Writing for The Independent, Julian Hall gave Science two stars out of five, stating that it was Gervais's "most disappointing" offering yet.[69] The DVD for Science was released on 15 November 2010.[70] In November 2009 he headlined the sixth annual New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall, New York.[71]

Gervais has begun writing his fifth stand-up routine[when?], to be titled Humanity.[72]

Grand Theft Auto IV[edit]

Gervais is one of two featured comedians (the other being Katt Williams) in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV who performs at the Split Sides comedy club, on the in-game television and appears in a radio interview.

DVD releases[edit]

Title Released Notes
Animals 17 November 2003 Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London
Politics 15 November 2004 Live at the Palace Theatre, London
Fame 12 November 2007 Live at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo, London
Science 22 November 2010

Books[edit]

Flanimals[edit]

Gervais released a children's book in 2004, Flanimals (illustrated by Rob Steen), which depicted nonsense animals. After the success of this book, he released its sequel More Flanimals in 2005, with Flanimals of the Deep coming the next year. A new Flanimals book, Flanimals: The Day of the Bletchling, was released in October 2007. Flanimals: Pop Up was also published in 2009.[73]

There is a wide range of Flanimals merchandise available, including dolls and gift cards. A six-part Flanimals TV series has been commissioned by ITV,[74] although Gervais had previously claimed signing a Hollywood film deal[75] so that a franchise could be developed. "That way it stands a chance of being the next Dr. Seuss or Mr. Men".[76]

Other books[edit]

The Office scripts have been released in book form, with Series 1 issued in 2002, and the remaining episodes following in 2003.

In late 2006 the Extras script book was released, as well as The World of Karl Pilkington presented by Gervais and Merchant. These were essentially[vague] transcripts of Xfm shows and podcasts.

Film[edit]

Gervais's film career has included small roles as the voice of a pigeon in 2005's Valiant, as a studio executive in 2006's For Your Consideration, as museum director Dr. McPhee in 2006's Night at the Museum and its sequel Night at the Museum 2, and as "Ferdy the Fence" in the 2007 film Stardust.

Gervais starred in Ghost Town, which was released on 19 September 2008, and was in Lowell, Massachusetts during May 2008 filming his next project, The Invention of Lying, which he starred in along with, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe and Louis C.K.,and with appearances by Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Roz Ryan, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Edward Norton. The social comedy, was co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.[77]

Gervais and co-writer Stephen Merchant made a film called Cemetery Junction, set in 1970s Britain, about class, love and fulfilment.[78] The film was released in April 2010.

Gervais was the voice of Argonaut in Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, released in 2011.

In 2014, he appeared in the Muppets Most Wanted film.

Other appearances[edit]

Ricky Gervais performing at Tribeca Performing Arts Center in 2007

On 2 July 2005 Gervais appeared at the Live 8 event held in London's Hyde Park, where he performed his famous dance. He produced a series of short films for the cause, linked acts from the studio with Jonathan Ross, and also introduced the group R.E.M..

Gervais also has a role in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV, as himself, appearing in his role as a comedian in a comedy club, and as an interviewee on radio station We Know The Truth. For this, a special 3-minute act was written, recorded and fully motion-captured.[79]

Gervais has also hosted the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Golden Globe Awards. His 2011 hosting of the awards was controversial for his edgy jokes that were at the expense of many of the nominees, similar to the New York Friars Club roast style jokes.[80] His jibes were described as setting "a corrosive tone" by one critic, though some celebrities were seen crying from laughter, leaving the overall reaction to be 'mixed'.[81][82]

Boxing[edit]

In 2002 Gervais took part in a charity boxing match against Grant Bovey — known to the public only due to his relationship with TV personality Anthea Turner. On his Saturday afternoon radio show on Xfm London Gervais and partners Merchant and Pilkington had discussions on both Gervais's attitude towards boxing and training in general, as well as his likelihood of victory against Bovey. Initially, Merchant had questions as to why Gervais was participating in the event, due to his dislike of slight pain and his inexperience with fitness in general.

Gervais was trained for the three-round contest by famous boxing trainer brothers Frank and Eugene Maloney, at their Fight Factory gymnasium. It was the second televised charity boxing match, the first being Bob Mortimer against Les Dennis, for Comic Relief. The fight was televised by the BBC, and Gervais came out on top by a split decision verdict. Gervais later said that the experience was the 'most difficult thing' he had ever done. He donated his £5,000 prize money to the training of a Macmillan nurse.

Concert for Diana and Live Earth[edit]

On 1 July 2007 Gervais performed at the Concert for Diana in Wembley Stadium, a music event celebrating the life of the Princess of Wales. Towards the end of the event — after a pre-recorded introduction from Ben Stiller — Gervais appeared along with fellow Office star Mackenzie Crook. They performed "Free Love Freeway", a song previously heard in the fourth episode of series one of The Office. Due to a technical problem, Gervais then had to fill time until he was able to re-introduce Elton John to close the show, so he did the David Brent dance again, as well as singing the "Little Fat Man" song as performed by David Bowie in episode two of the second series of Extras.

On 7 July 2007 Gervais appeared at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London. Gervais introduced Rob Reiner appearing in the guise of spoof film director Marty Di Bergi, who in turn introduced Spinal Tap.

In July 2007, following Gervais's appearance at the memorial concert for the Princess of Wales, The Guardian ran a column by Daily Mirror television critic Jim Shelley entitled "Call Me Crazy... But Has Ricky Gervais Lost It?", where he described Gervais as a "tiresome embarrassment".[83] The following week, The Guardian noted that Gervais had responded with "an exhilaratingly foul-mouthed tirade" on his website, concluding with the sentence "yes I am resting on my fucking laurels you cunt!" In this video, Gervais mocked Jim Shelley typing the words "resting on his laurels" as Gervais jokingly lashed out by stating that he was resting on his laurels and that he was not going to make another show for television, quipping: "What's the point? What is there to beat?"[84]

On 18 October 2011, Gervais attracted criticism for his repeated use of the word "mong" (short for "mongoloid"), a historically derogatory term for mentally disabled people, most commonly used against those with Downs syndrome.[85] Gervais claimed the word no longer conveyed this meaning.[86]

Although other comedians and support groups for the disabled pointed out that verbal and physical abuse of the disabled was on the increase,[87] Gervais initially remained defiant over his use of the word.[88]

Personal life[edit]

Gervais lives in Hampstead,[89] having moved from Bloomsbury, with his girlfriend of 32 years, producer and screenwriter Jane Fallon. He says they chose not to marry because "there's no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God" or have children because they "didn't fancy dedicating 16 years of our lives. And there are too many children, of course".[90] In August 2008, they bought a second home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City.[91]

Gervais has spoken out against fox hunting and bullfighting, and wrote to Gordon Brown urging him to stop the use of black bear fur as caps for the Foot Guards.[92][93] He has also expressed his desire to open an animal sanctuary in the future, and started appearing in adverts and began the development of a mobile app in order to fund it.[94][95][96] PETA declared him to be their "Person of the Year" for 2013.[97]

Gervais is a supporter of gay rights and has praised the introduction of same sex marriage in England and Wales, calling it "a victory for all of us" and stated "anything that promotes equality, promotes progress." He added: "You can't take equality 'too far'."[98]

Gervais is an atheist,[99] stating he lost his Christian faith at the age of eight,[100] and in June 2008 he became an honorary associate of the National Secular Society. In December 2010 he wrote an editorial for The Wall Street Journal defending his non-faith.[101]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2001 Dog Eat Dog Bouncer
2005 Valiant Bugsy
2006 For Your Consideration Martin Gibb
2006 Night at the Museum Dr. McPhee
2007 Stardust Ferdy the Fence
2008 Ghost Town Dr. Bertram Pincus
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Dr. McPhee
2009 The Invention of Lying Mark Bellison Also director, writer, producer
2010 Cemetery Junction Len Taylor Also director, writer executive producer
2011 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World Argonaut (voice)
2011 The Muppets Himself Deleted Scenes Only (Cut from Theatrical Release)
2013 The Unbelievers Himself Documentary
2013 Escape from Planet Earth Mr. James Bing (voice)
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Dominic Badguy
2014 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Dr. McPhee Completed
2015 Life on the Road David Brent Pre-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1999 The Jim Tavaré Show Various characters 7 episodes
Writer of 12 episodes
1999 Comedy Lab Clive Meadows Episode: "Golden Years"
Also writer
2000 The 11 O'Clock Show Various 20 episodes
2000 Bruiser N/A Writer of 5 episodes
2000 Meet Ricky Gervais Host 6 episodes
2001 Spaced Dave Episode: "Dissolution"
2001–2003, 2013 The Office (UK) David Brent 15 episodes
Also co-creator, writer, director
2002 Robbie the Reindeer in Legend of the Lost Tribe Penguin (voice) TV Special
2003 Happiness Himself Episode: "Real Dancing"
2003 Ricky Gervais Live: Animals Himself Stand-up Special
2004 Ricky Gervais Live 2: Politics Himself Stand-up Special
2004 Alias Daniel Ryan Episode: "Façade"
2005–2013 The Office (US) David Brent 2 episodes
Also co-creator, executive producer, writer
2005–2007 Extras Andy Millman 13 episodes
Also co-creator, writer, director, executive producer
2006 The Simpsons Charles Heathbar (voice) Episode: "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife"
Also writer
2007 Ricky Gervais Live 3: Fame Himself Stand-up Special
2008 Ricky Gervais: Out of England - The Stand-Up Special Himself Stand-up Special
2009 Sesame Street Himself 3 episodes
2009 SpongeBob SquarePants Narrator Episode: "SpongeBob's Truth or Square"
2010 67th Golden Globe Awards Host TV Special
2010–2012 The Ricky Gervais Show Himself (voice)[102] 39 episodes
Also co-creator, writer, executive producer
2010–2012 An Idiot Abroad Himself 21 episodes
Also co-creator, executive producer
2010 Louie Dr. Ben 2 episodes
2010 Ricky Gervais: Out of England 2 - The Stand-Up Special Himself Stand-up Special
2010 Ricky Gervais Live 4: Science Himself Stand-up Special
2011 68th Golden Globe Awards Host TV Special
2011, 2013 Life's Too Short Himself 7 episodes
Also co-creator, writer, director, executive producer
2011 The Simpsons Himself (voice) Episode: "Angry Dad: The Movie"
2011 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself Episode: "The Hero"
2011 Talking Funny Himself TV Special
2012 69th Golden Globe Awards Host TV Special
2012 Family Guy Billy Finn (voice) Episode: "Be Careful What You Fish For"
2012–present Derek Derek Noakes Also creator, writer, director, executive producer

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2006 Scarface: The World Is Yours Englishman
2008 Grand Theft Auto IV Himself
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Dr. McPhee

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2002 British Academy Television Awards Best Situation Comedy The Office Won
Best Comedy Performance Won
British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Actor Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Writer's Award Won
Royal Television Society Best Actor - Male Nominated
2003 British Academy Television Awards Best Situation Comedy Won
Best Comedy Performance Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Writer's Award Won
Royal Television Society Best Comedy Performance Won
2004 Golden Globe Award Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Won
British Academy Television Awards Best Situation Comedy Won
Best Comedy Performance Won
British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Actor Nominated
Writers of the Year Won
Royal Television Society Best Comedy Performance Nominated
TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
2005 British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Extras Nominated
Best New TV Comedy Nominated
Best TV Comedy Actor Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special The Office Christmas specials Nominated
2006 Writers Guild of America Award Television: Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Television: New Series Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Situation Comedy Extras Nominated
Best Writer Nominated
Banff World Television Festival Best Comedy Program Won
British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Nominated
Best TV Comedy Actor Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Comedy/Entertainment Nominated
Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival[103] Honorary Rose for Exceptional Contribution to the Global Entertainment Business Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series The Office Won
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Extras Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy The Office Won
Program of the Year Nominated
Satellite Award Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
2007 Writers Guild of America Award Television: Comedy Series Won
Producers Guild of America Award Best Episodic Comedy Won
Writers' Guild of Great Britain Television Comedy/Light Entertainment Extras Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Situation Comedy Nominated
Best Writer Nominated
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Comedy Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Extras Won
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy The Office Won
Satellite Award Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Extras Nominated
Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best DVD Release of a TV Show The Office Nominated
AFI Awards TV Program of the Year Won
2008 Golden Globe Award Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Extras Won
Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award Best Episodic Comedy The Office Nominated
Extras Nominated
Banff World Television Festival Best Comedy Program Won
British Comedy Awards Best Television Comedy Actor Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Comedy/Entertainment Nominated
Writer's Award Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Outstanding Television Movie Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy The Office Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Ghost Town Won
2009 Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy The Office Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award Best Episodic Comedy Nominated
ASTRA Awards Favourite International Personality or Actor Extras Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special Ricky Gervais: Out of England - The Stand-Up Special Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special Nominated
PRISM Awards Comedy Multi-Episode Storyline The Office Won
AFI Awards TV Program of the Year Won
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
2010 Golden Globe Award Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award Best Episodic Comedy Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Peter Sellers Award for Comedy The Invention of Lying Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Outstanding Animated Program The Ricky Gervais Show Nominated
2011 Producers Guild of America Award Best Episodic Comedy The Office Nominated
TV Quick Awards Best Comedy Show The Ricky Gervais Show Nominated
The Comedy Awards Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Stand-up Special Ricky Gervais: Out of England 2 - The Stand-Up Special Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Comedy Series The Office Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Special Class Program 68th Golden Globe Awards Nominated
2012 National Television Awards Most Popular Factual Programme An Idiot Abroad Nominated
Shorty Award Lifetime Achievement Award The Office Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Multichannel Programme An Idiot Abroad Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Special Class Program 69th Golden Globe Awards Nominated
Satellite Award Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy The Office Nominated
2014 People's Choice Awards Favorite Series We Miss Most Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award[104] Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Derek Nominated

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Heatley, Michael (2006). Ricky Gervais — The Story So Far... Michael O'Mara Books. ISBN 1-84317-219-4. 

Interviews[edit]

  • Time Magazine (2008). Renaissance Man: Ricky Gervais by Joel Stein
  • The Independent, et al. (2005). Ricky Gervais: My life as a pure superstar Electronic Version Independent News Media: United Kingdom
  • The Guardian Newspaper, et al. (2005). "Second Coming" Guardian Unlimited; Guardian News and Media Limited 2007: United Kingdom

External links[edit]