Derek (TV series)

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Derek (TV series)
Derek TV series logo.png
Genre Comedy-drama
Format Mockumentary
Created by Ricky Gervais
Written by Ricky Gervais
Directed by Ricky Gervais
Starring Ricky Gervais
Karl Pilkington
Kerry Godliman
David Earl
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 7 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Ricky Gervais
Producer(s) Charlie Hanson
Editor(s) Valerio Bonelli
Cinematography Martin Hawkins
Running time 24 mins[1]
Production company(s) Derek Productions Ltd.
Original channel Channel 4
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original run 12 April 2012 (2012-04-12) – present
External links

Derek is a British television comedy-drama written by, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais.[2] The pilot was produced by Derek Productions Ltd. for Channel 4 and aired on 12 April 2012.[3][4]

On 9 May 2012, Channel 4 announced that it had commissioned a full series, which began airing on 30 January 2013.[5] On 4 March 2013 (two days before the final episode of the first series was aired), it was announced that Derek had been re-commissioned for a second series.[6]

The first series became available for streaming on Netflix on 12 September 2013.[7]

The second series, consisting of six episodes, will premiere 23 April 2014 on Channel 4.[8]


The pilot episode aired on 12 April 2012 on Channel 4. Ricky Gervais revealed on his blog, just after the pilot had aired, that he was writing 6 more episodes. Filmed in a mockumentary style, the show stars, and was written and directed by, Ricky Gervais. It is set in a nursing home and centres on a helper at the home, Derek, played by Gervais.[9] The title character is based on one who first appeared in Gervais's stand-up show "Rubbernecker" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2001.[10] The show portrays the home's workers and residents as outsiders who struggle in life due to being disadvantaged, excluded from, and unwanted by, mainstream society.

Gervais's character, Derek, goes beyond his job description to help the residents for whom he cares. The character's quirky, goofy, and often hare-brained personality is tempered by a tender, honest and brave spirit.

The majority of the show takes place in the modest nursing home and surrounds the lives of the characters who hang about the facility, be they caretakers, residents, repairmen or a random, homeless man. During the first series, the programme changed settings to show the characters interacting with outsiders at shops, pubs and even a day trip to the seaside.

Gervais has said that the programme was inspired by his relatives who work in care homes: "Half my family are care workers. My sister works with kids with learning difficulties. My sister-in-law works in a care home for people with Alzheimer's. And four or five of my nieces work in old people's homes. I always write about what I know."[11]


Gervais plays 49-year-old Derek Noakes, a care worker in a home for the elderly who has worked there for three years. He likes watching reality television shows and game shows and is interested in celebrities, fame, YouTube, and above all, talking about animals. He is kind, helpful, and selfless, with good intentions. He is vulnerable because of his childlike naivety and lack of intelligence. He is ridiculed and ostracised, as well as being marginalised by mainstream society because of his social awkwardness, unattractiveness, and lack of inhibitions. Derek says it is more important to be kind than to be clever or good-looking. Many media sources describe him as autistic.[10] Gervais himself has always stated that Derek is not intellectually challenged, but "nearly half of children with an autism spectrum disorder have average or above-average intellectual ability -- an IQ above 85 -- compared with one-third of children a decade ago.[12]

Supporting characters[edit]

Kerry Godliman plays his colleague and friend Hannah; she has worked in the home for fifteen years. Karl Pilkington plays Dougie, the home's caretaker. Derek and Dougie live in Dougie's council flat. David Earl[13] plays Kev, a friend of Derek, who does not work in the home; Kev collects autographs from celebrities.


Pilot (2012)[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Original airdate UK viewers
(in millions)[14]
1 - "Pilot" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 12 April 2012 (2012-04-12) 2.59
A documentary crew films the activities of the workers in a nursing home. Derek, a 49 year old worker who loves his job and the people he cares for, introduces the crew to some of the workers and residents. Hannah, who runs the nursing home, is interviewed on how she got to where she is, and her relationship history. Derek and Hannah walk around outside in a grassy field and around a pond. Derek, thinking he sees a spider, gets scared and falls into the pond. Hannah attempts to get Derek to find out discreetly if Tom (in whom she is interested, and who is a relation of a resident) is gay, but the plan backfires. Hannah takes Derek to the pub, where three nearby women make fun of Derek's looks. Hannah and Derek leave, but not before Hannah headbutts one of the women. Later in the day, one of the residents dies, which greatly upsets Derek. After a memorial service, Hannah and Tom leave for a pub. 

Series 1 (2013)[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Original airdate UK viewers
(in millions)[14]
2 1 "Episode 1" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 30 January 2013 (2013-01-30) 2.32
A council official visits Broadhill retirement home because the council is making budget cuts and plans to cut costs at the home or perhaps close it entirely. The official questions Dougie's role at the home, and his lack of qualifications. He also asks if Derek is autistic and suggests that he see a doctor to diagnose it. Derek refuses on the grounds that being diagnosed would not make any difference to his life. Derek, Dougie and Kev try to raise funds for the home by seeking donations from the public in the street. They fail due to their lack of social skills. Animals from a rescue centre visit the home. 
3 2 "Episode 2" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 6 February 2013 (2013-02-06) 1.98
A young girl, Vicky, is sentenced to community service work at Broadhill after stealing some shoes. While initially horrified at the idea, she is a hit with the residents, and finds herself treated kindly for the first time in her life. It is Derek's 50th birthday and Hannah organises a surprise birthday party. Kev encourages Derek to drink beer, resulting in him getting drunk and very ill. 
4 3 "Episode 3" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 13 February 2013 (2013-02-13) 1.79
Dougie collects items around the home and puts together a jumble sale to raise money. Marge, a resident, receives a visit from her daughter Shelley; it is made obvious that Shelley only cares to visit the home in order to remind her mother that she was promised her engagement ring upon her death. Meanwhile Tom becomes increasingly upset that Hannah is always too busy to follow through on the plans they make to see each other. She is about to leave to meet him when she finds out Marge is sick, and decides to break her plans with Tom yet again; later however Tom enters Marge's room, surprising Hannah with fast food and wine. When Hannah leaves the room, Marge gives her ring to Tom and tells him that it is for him to give to Hannah. Marge dies that night; Shelley shows up, outraged that the ring is not among her mother’s things, when Derek explains that she gave it to Tom. They call Tom, who arrives and gives the ring to Shelley. Dougie then begins swearing at Shelley and her husband for their cold materialism, and angrily demands that they leave. 
5 4 "Episode 4" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 20 February 2013 (2013-02-20) 1.43
Dougie, Kev and Derek take some of the residents on a day trip to the beach. Meanwhile at the home Gill, a new resident, arrives. She is accompanied by her daughter Rebecca, who used to attend school with Hannah. Hannah spends the day with them, during which time Rebecca’s narcissistic and condescending personality is revealed by a series of rude remarks and self-centered stories. In contrast, Hannah’s own altruistic nature is emphasised, through both dialogue between Derek and Dougie as well as alternating shots of the group having fun at the beach while Hannah is shown cleaning, serving residents, and listening to Rebecca. In the end Hannah expresses her gratefulness for having friends, compared to Rebecca who seems to have none. 
6 5 "Episode 5" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 27 February 2013 (2013-02-27) 1.66
Deon, a young aspiring rap artist, arrives at the home to do community service as punishment for having stolen shoes from a mall. The staff put together a talent show, the main event being a play that Kev wrote about the story of Duran Duran. Various residents are cast for the play, which is not shown in its entirety but which is clearly very poorly produced and acted. The residents enjoy it however, laughing and clapping loudly, to the frustration of Kev who intended it to be a serious production. Deon concludes the talent show by performing a rap summarising how his feelings towards the home have changed, from originally being uncomfortable and resentful for being sent there, to coming to respect the residents and feeling fortunate for being able to experience a world he would have otherwise never been introduced to. 
7 6 "Episode 6" Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais 6 March 2013 (2013-03-06) 1.52
The death of Lizzie, a resident with severe Alzheimer's disease, leads the team at the home to question what life means to them. Meanwhile Derek's estranged father traces him and asks for Hannah's help with a reconciliation; however, Derek is less than keen. 




The show attracted controversy, most of it before it was aired, due to a perception by some that it mocks mentally disabled people.[15] Tanya Gold, writing for The Guardian, dismissed Gervais's claims that in Derek he was satirising prejudice against the disabled, instead saying it "feels more like lazy cruelty than satire".[10] Jack Seale addressed this in his review for the Radio Times, noting that Derek "is uncynically presented as a hero who is, in Gervais's words, 'better than us' because he lacks ego and guile and merely wants to be nice. Those seeking to take offense at Gervais's portrayal of Derek will have to look hard".[1] Seale went on to criticise the show for relying too heavily on elements and characterisations from previous programmes made by Gervais, but also praised the emotional final scene as "truly superb work from Gervais as actor, writer and director" and Kerry Godliman's performance, stating that "every moment she's on screen is sigh-inducing magic."[1] The Guardian's Sam Wollaston also found the show uncontroversial, but was less positive on the show as a whole, finding it just "not very good" and feeling that "the whole mockumentary thing feels tired now".[16]

Caroline Frost of The Huffington Post was more positive, stating that, although flawed, she thinks it rewards viewers with "some top-notch performances and an important social discussion, lightly but movingly told."[17]

Tom Sutcliffe of the Independent questioned the wisdom of commissioning an entire series of the show, writing: "To my mind, the pilot of Ricky Gervais's comedy about an assistant in a retirement home had already fully explored its awkward – and testing – balance of comedy and emotion." About the titular character, he wrote "It’s Derek’s redeeming qualities that are the hardest to take – a sense of self-congratulation at the refinement of its own sentiments that has a little bit of the bully in it too."[18]

The pilot episode of series 1 was watched by just over two million viewers, over ten percent of people watching TV in the U.K. at that date and time.[19]

DVD Release[edit]

The complete first series of Derek was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 11 November 2013.


  1. ^ a b c Seale, Jack (2012-03-28). "Ricky Gervais in Derek - review". Radio Times. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Channel 4 launches Ricky Gervais’s Derek | News | Comedy Central UK and Ireland". 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  3. ^ "Derek - C4 Comedy Drama - British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  4. ^ company check ltd. "Free company financial check on DEREK PRODUCTIONS LIMITED. Registered number 07453009. Free company accounts. Companies House information". Company Check. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  5. ^ "commissions series of Derek by Ricky Gervais - Channel 4 - Info - Press". Channel 4. 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  6. ^ Alice Vincent (4 March 2013). "Ricky Gervais comedy Derek re-commissioned for second series by Channel Four". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Strecker, Erin (22 May 2013). "Ricky Gervais series 'Derek' gets Netflix premiere date". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Hodgson, Claire (27 March 2014). "Ricky Gervais’ heartwarming comedy drama Derek returns to Channel 4 for its second series this April". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 1 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Holly Thomas. "'Who'd win between a suicide bomber and a shark?'". Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  10. ^ a b c Tanya Gold (2012-02-09). "No justification for this lazy comedy". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  11. ^ "Ricky Gervais interview for Derek". Channel 4. 
  12. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Retrieved 16 February 2013.  (No permanent link available. Search for relevant dates.)
  15. ^ BBC (2012-04-09). "Ricky Gervais defends comedy show Derek". Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  16. ^ Sam Wollaston (2012-04-12). "TV review: Derek; Long Lost Family | Television & radio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ John Plunkett. "Ricky Gervais' Derek attracts 2m viewers". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 

External links[edit]