List of Extras characters
The British television sitcom Extras centres on the main characters of Andy Millman, Maggie Jacobs and Darren Lamb, in addition to several more recurring characters.
Portrayed by Ricky Gervais, Andrew "Andy" Millman is the lead character of Extras. Andy's dream to become an actor – he left his steady day job at Natwest in Wokingham in order to pursue it – is endlessly frustrated by the fact that his agent Darren Lamb is incompetent, circumstances seem to conspire against him, and the only work he can get is as a film extra. His best friend is fellow extra Maggie Jacobs, but her staunch desire to help, coupled with a lack of tact and intelligence, means that she more often than not causes him just as much trouble.
At the end of Series 1, Millman successfully managed to sell a sitcom called When the Whistle Blows, which proves to be a commercial but not a critical success.
In contrast to Gervais' other famed role as David Brent, who, through his desire to be liked by those around him comes off as pathetic, Millman often makes little or no attempt to be liked - often being a downright curmudgeon - but frequently comes across as being a much more likeable character than Brent. This may be due to his increased sense of self-awareness and understanding; when compared to Brent, Millman is all too aware of when he has stepped over the line and become genuinely offensive (although this doesn't stop him from causing genuine offence). Also unlike Brent, who was largely in denial about the world around him, Millman is a more depressed and misanthropic character with a more realistic appraisal of the world and how it works. Whereas Brent was based on a former boss of Gervais, Millman's personality is more autobiographical in origin.
A running joke is that Millman did not lose his virginity until the age of 28 (although the first time this is mentioned, Maggie says he was 22), and to a woman who looked like Ronnie Corbett (who turns up in a later episode as himself). Andy's nemesis throughout the programme is Greg Lindley-Jones, who also started out as an extra before finding success in a number of productions and becoming a well-respected actor, much to Andy's annoyance.
Portrayed by Ashley Jensen, Maggie Jacobs is characterised as a genuinely kind and supportive individual who only wants to help out. Unfortunately for her and those around her, she is also portrayed as being rather socially inept and lacking in any sort of internal censor or sense of tact, which means that she's more likely to say precisely the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person, and thus create more trouble for herself and those around her (especially Andy, whom she frequently embarrasses by inadvertently puncturing his pretensions towards being an actor). Although the character possesses no malicious intent, she also appears to be rather childlike and poorly educated when it comes to matters of race and political correctness - which, when coupled with her general tactlessness, frequently results in her causing genuine offence through inadvertent insults and stereotypes. In series two her earthy ways are shown to contrast greatly with the pretensions of Andy's new friends. Gervais has stated that he thinks the personality of Maggie resembles a female version of Karl Pilkington, whose friendship with Gervais was developing during the time Extras was being written. During the series Andy even explains that he and Maggie are friends because she's so stupid and it amuses him, which is precisely what Gervais has said about Pilkington.
Maggie is rather man-hungry, and throughout the series she is constantly on the lookout for 'Mr. Right.' However, owing to circumstance and her aforementioned tendency to commit social faux-pas, the relationships she starts with men throughout the series rarely last long. However, there have been instances in which the men she is interested in turn out to be very much less than desirable, through no fault of her own. In one episode she was constantly pestered and eventually kissed by Orlando Bloom, even though she had told him that she did not find him particularly attractive.
Portrayed by Stephen Merchant, Darren Lamb is Andy Millman's agent. He is utterly incapable of breaking an act, and his usual negotiating tactic is to simply agree with whatever anyone else says, or suggest someone other than his client for the part. He's very good at deducting his 12.5% commission ("15% for adverts") despite frequently having done nothing to contribute to his act's success. For example, in series two episode two, whilst in the pub, he asks for £27.50 from Barry for the £220 he was paid for fixing someone's gutter, despite having no involvement in getting him the job. He can often be seen begging for this type of payment. His lack of professional skills is typified by the occasion he inadvertently left his office phone unplugged for two days without noticing. He is also known to make inappropriate remarks at the least helpful of times. Lamb works part-time at the Carphone Warehouse, but in Episode 4 of Series 2, he mentions he only works on Saturdays while "Narinder" is pregnant.
Despite these (and more) overwhelming examples of incompetence, Lamb is nevertheless the agent of the series' protagonist, the frustrated Andy Millman, who is more than aware of his agent's utter uselessness but nevertheless feels compelled to retain him out of a slightly perverse mixture of responsibility and sympathy. Lamb is also the agent of "Barry from EastEnders".
In episode six of the second series, an increasingly stressed Millman threatens to sack Lamb after he is caught masturbating and relaxing in his office. However, Lamb manages to arrange a meeting between Millman and his hero Robert De Niro, with the indication given that he managed to keep his job as a result.
Lamb does not have a regular girlfriend and his rather crude way of chatting up women (as seen in episode two of series two) means few have any wish to fulfil his sexual desires. In the fourth episode he actually managed to invite Maggie to his house, things go well until Lamb tries to break an unflushable faeces in his toilet into pieces with a whisk, causing Maggie to leave his house in disgust.
Barry off EastEnders
Shaun Williamson plays himself as one of Darren's clients. He used to play Barry Evans on the British soap opera EastEnders, but left to pursue a multi-million pound contract elsewhere and failed. Darren Lamb doesn't use his real name, but instead calls him "Barry off EastEnders" or just "Barry" and occasionally "Barr". This also extends to other characters as seen in episode 1.2, where fellow EastEnders actor Ross Kemp only seems to know Shaun Williamson after being told his EastEnders character name. He carries an air of accepted defeat, and helps Lamb around his office, appearing to be marginally the more competent of the two. They later team up with another ex-Eastender, Dean Gaffney, at the Carphone Warehouse. Andy and Dean are the only ones who ever call him "Shaun".
Portrayed by Shaun Pye, Greg Lindley-Jones is an arrogant and mean-spirited Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate and Andy's enemy. Like Andy, he started out as an extra, struggling to get more significant roles. However, unlike Andy, he has managed to secure lines in various productions such as The Bill and consequently he possesses a rather high opinion of himself and is constantly bullying Andy. Andy rarely gets ahead in his encounters with Greg. In the first episode of series one it is revealed he is subsidised by his wealthy parents. While both Andy and Greg are suitably advantaged so that they can afford to work full-time in minor acting roles, Greg's through a privileged background and Andy's through a previous career at the bank. Greg is notably annoyed when Andy tries to celebrate his BBC series triumph with fellow extras in Season 1 Episode 6.
Greg gradually gains more recognition as a successful stage, television and eventually film actor. In the Christmas special he boasts to Andy how the fictitious film Byron: A Life, (in which he starred alongside Clive Owen) is number one in the UK film charts and number two in America. Andy becomes envious of the fact Greg is now a well-respected Hollywood actor whilst he is only recognised for featuring in a lowbrow sitcom.
Other recurring characters
- Bunny (Gerard Kelly) - three episodes, a camp pantomime director whose daughter appears in the first series. He reappears in the Sir Ian McKellen episode and the Christmas Special.
- Damon Beesley (Martin Savage), the very camp comedy script writer who is brought in to work alongside Andy.
- Iain Morris (Guy Henry) - The head of Comedy at the BBC, Morris is one of the contributors to stealing artistic direction of 'When the Whistle Blows' from Andy. He has a strong friendship with Damon Beesley, agreeing with virtually anything the latter suggests for the sitcom no matter how ridiculous, and becomes increasingly arrogant and condescending when Andy raises his concerns about it. He is also gay and takes it very personally when any implied homophobia is used in his presence. He appears in three episodes as well as a minor role in the Christmas Special.
- "Make-up woman" (Sarah Preston) - three episodes. Asks for signed pictures but no one can remember her name.
- Liza Tarbuck - although she mainly appears in character as Rita in When the Whistle Blows, she is also seen in make-up as herself.
When the Whistle Blows
- Ray Stokes
Ray is the manager, played by Andy Millman, in turn played by Ricky Gervais. His catchphrase is an incredulous "Are you having a laugh!? Is he/she having a laugh?". The character was based on a man Millman worked for before deciding to pursue acting full-time, and originally his catchphrase was merely something Millman wrote in because it was something that man used to say. Millman's co-writer decided to develop it into a catchphrase. To play the part of Ray, Millman is forced into wearing oversized glasses and a curly black wig to add the "hilarity", despite the fact that the real Ray Stokes did not look like this. Many of Ray's mannerisms, such as raising and lowering his glasses, suggest that he could be a parody of Reg Holdsworth, an old character from the long-running British soap Coronation Street.
Rita is played by Liza Tarbuck, who also sings the When The Whistle Blows theme song. She is a single parent and is the central, straight character of the show. She is married in the Christmas Special.
Gobbler is a large, unintelligent character, played by Andrew Buckley. His inability to understand his co-workers' jokes often prompts his catchphrase, "I don't get it!" It is suggested that he has appalling personal hygiene. He becomes intelligent after falling off a donkey in the Christmas Special.
Brains, played by Jamie Chapman, is the stereotypical smart one of the group, sporting glasses, a quiffed hairstyle and a pedantic tone. His rather detailed knowledge of all subjects does not impress Ray, who will inevitably come out with the "are ya 'avin' a laugh?" line. He 'comes out' in the Christmas Special.
Kimberley, played by Sarah Moyle is the only other female character on the show. She seems to lead a rather homely lifestyle. In the Christmas Special, she received a promotion.
Keith is played by TV presenter Keith Chegwin in the pilot episode. His character was originally called "Alfie", but a frustrated Millman changed it because Keith Chegwin was confused at being addressed with a different name. We are told he is always late for work, but in this instance turns up late because he was at his sister's funeral. This also confused Chegwin, who confided: "the thing is, my sister's not dead".
There are relatively few other characters in the sitcom, but they include Chris Martin (playing himself), and a Japanese couple, who also spawn another catchphrase "Velly velly solly" (as seen on a T-shirt worn by a crowd member in the Christmas Special). Ray's wife is mentioned, but never appears - which is an old cliché of British comedy, e.g., Minder and Dad's Army. Andy appears in a dual role as Ray's twin sister.