Interview: Ricky Gervais
Share This Article:
Ricky Gervais’s highly anticipated new comedy Derek begins tonight on Channel 4. Here the comedian discusses the new project and why he loves polarising his critics. What inspired you to write Derek? Everything comes from character. The Office came from David Brent, and Extras came from Andy Millman, and this comes from the character of Derek. Is his care home a world that you know well? Yes. 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. I worked in an office for 10 years, and so I wrote about it in The Office. For the last few years I've been working in the media and dealing with fame, and so I wrote about that in Extras. Cab drivers always say to me that there's a great comedy to be written about cabs. They're right. But they should write it, not me, because I don't work in a cab and they do. It's irresistible to want to talk about what you do. Where does the character of Derek come from? He was originally a satirical stand-up device. He sees things very differently from the rest of us. He can say funny things because he does it with innocence and sincerity. He is like us when we were eight. He is like us before we discovered lying and competition and selfishness and started to shut up when we were excited in case it looked uncool. He has everything sorted. What are Derek's key qualities? At one point, Kev says, "In the past, I lied, cheated and took the shortcut. But if it wasn't for Derek, I'd be dead." Derek is scruffy and people dismiss him. But he has taken the only shortcut that works: kindness. He is pretty perfect because he possesses the only thing that matters, which is kindness. Is kindness one of the predominant ideas behind this show? Absolutely. If there is a theme, it's kindness. Kindness trumps everything. And that's why the main characters have to be outsiders and losers. They all have to be deficient in everything except doing the right thing. They're still better people than you if you're not kind. Derek is so non judgemental but he sees through bullshit too. He only has one agenda- "What's the right thing to do?" And he doesn't even know it's an agenda. He's just "good" and nothing takes his eye of the ball. He sums it up in episode six when he says "I don't think it matters if there is a god or not. I've met people who believe in God that are good and that are bad. And I've met people who don't believe in God that are good and that are bad. So, just be good. I'm good. Not cos I think I'll go to heaven but because when I do something bad, I feel bad. And when I do something good, I feel good."
- Article continues below...
- More stories you may like...
- Musicians to watch out for at this year's Fringe
- Too Old To Die Young review - Nicolas Winding Refn's cynical, gorgeous critique of modern America
- The only relationships on Love Island 2019 worth talking about are the girls' friendships