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Ricky Gervais; The resident funny guy

One celebrity you won’t catch wearing fur…

Ooh, we loved him in The Office.

Of course you did. It was iconic. How could it not be, with lines like, “If your boss is getting you down, look at him through the prongs of a fork and imagine him in jail.” Or, “If at first you don’t succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.” But while the TV comedy about buffoonish middle-manager David Brent and his staff made the British funnyman a household name, his career couldn’t be less nine-to-five if it tried. Former pop star, actor, director, stand-up comic…

Hold up; not so fast! Pop star?

That is correct. In the early 80s he was one half of new wave group Seona Dancing. Now, he’s barely recognisable as the teddy bear-esque comic we’ve grown to know and love.

Ricky Gervais in a Seona Dancing video clip

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Tell me something else I don’t know about him…

Hmm, well, if you’re thinking of inviting him to dinner, be sure to take that stuffed deer head off the dining room wall first. He loathes hunting. In fact in 2013 PETA named him their Person of the Year. With his trademark dry humour and an army of more than 7 million Twitter followers, he’s gone into battle with big game hunters on many occasions. When Melissa Bachman, host of a TV hunting show (yes really; that’s America for you), posed smiling next to a lion she’d shot, Gervais posted, “I’ll pay for each pride of lions to have their own designated sniper on their side. Now it’s a sport…” He’s been in a lather about foxhunting too, lashing out at the UK’s recent plans to lift the ban on the activity. Back to his career, what else has he been in? Heaps. To name but a few: movies Ghost Town, Muppets Most Wanted, Night at the Museum and TV series Extras and Derek. And boy, was that polarising; his depiction of the rather slow and childlike Derek earned him both accusations of mocking the disabled and an Emmy nomination.

Well, he is very un-PC.

You could say that… although other critics said the real problem with Derek was its over-sentimentality. There’s just no pleasing some people. Gervais says he just likes to tell it how it is. On the topic of racism he told Time magazine, “I don’t like racist jokes. Not because they are offensive. I don’t like them because they’re not funny. And they’re not funny because they’re not true.” And just on that Emmy… the thing is, America loves him. He’s twice hosted the Golden Globes and he’s forever popping up on US talk shows. He must have pulling power in Hollywood; his mockumentary Life’s Too Short, about the life of a showbiz dwarf, included cameos by, among others, Liam Neeson, Johnny Depp and Steve Carell.

Love life?

He’s been with the same partner, novelist Jane Fallon, since 1987. Asked whether he’s read any of her books, she says, “He’s only read one novel, The Catcher in the Rye. He read it, he said it was an amazing experience and he could never top it, so he didn’t want to read another one.”

What’s his blue-sky thinking going forward?

Ooh Office jargon. Nice. Well, he’s set to return as the hapless Brent in feature-length mockumentary Life on the Road. It will focus on Brent’s life as he goes on tour 15 years after being made redundant.

Ricky Gervais on The Office

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Words by: Maria Hoyle

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