Gervais amazed The Office got made
Ricky Gervais has revealed he and co-creator Stephen Merchant are still amazed that The Office was ever commissioned.
"The script could still be in someone's drawer. 'A bloke who isn't funny says something unfunny, looks at the cameras and touches his tie'. That's comedy gold!" Rick laughed, recalling the birth of the mockumentary which made his name.
"I remember the first meeting we had for it. I said, 'We're going to write it, I'm going to star in it, there's going to be no stars in it, there's going to be no laughter track and we're going to direct it. You either say yes or we take it somewhere else'.
"After the meeting, Steve went, 'Rick, can I do the talking in future?' And when we got it I said, 'See, Steve?' and he went, 'Yeah, but we could be living in a car!'"
Since he first stepped into the limelight more than decade ago, Ricky has become adept at dealing with criticism.
"The first reviews for The Office were awful," he said. "They used the phrase 'summer stinker' I seem to remember."
It's not surprising, then, that he is expecting a negative reaction to his latest mockumentary, Derek, which has a one-off showing on Channel 4 this month.
Set in an old people's home, it follows the lives of those who live and work there, with the camera guided by Ricky as Derek, a care assistant who outwardly appears to have learning difficulties.
"I would be confused if no one attacked me about this," he said. "Every week has been the end of my career for the last 20 years. I mean, I started with a backlash. But what can you do? If you started making it for reviews or awards, or the public, you'd never get anywhere. I make it for me."