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Ricky Gervais' shock over David Bowie's death

Published 25/04/2016

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais was emailing David Bowie just two weeks before his death, but had no idea he was suffering from cancer.

David Bowie's death came as a "total surprise" to his friend Ricky Gervais.

The Space Oddity singer died on 10 January (16) aged 69 following a battle with liver cancer. His untimely passing came as a shock to many as Bowie made the decision to keep his illness private, even from his friends.

Gervais was pen pals with Bowie, striking up a correspondence initially following the success of his television show The Office.

And in a new interview, Gervais has revealed he was in touch with Bowie just a fortnight before his death, but had no idea about his health struggles.

"(His death) was a total surprise," Gervais told BBC Radio 5 Live's Assignment programme. "I was emailing him two weeks before, so he must have known. He kept it from everyone."

Gervais had sent Bowie an email praising his new album Blackstar, and received a reply from the singer. But his decision to keep his cancer a secret was supported by the comedian.

"What dignity. He was an amazing man. It was something for him and his family. Dignity to the end. And amazing work to the end."

Bowie was a fan of Gervais' unique style of humour and their pen pal relationship began more than a decade ago.

"After The Office we sort of became pen pals," Gervais explained. "I hung out with him when I went to New York. I hung out with him here when he came to England."

Bowie also made an appearance in Gervais' comedy series Extras back in 2006. In the episode, Bowie is said to have become famous thanks to a spoof song he wrote about Gervais' character Andy.

The track, called Little Fat Man, centres around Andy's "pug-nosed face" and accuses him of "selling his soul for a shot at fame".

In a mock interview as part of the episode, Bowie said: "My background is in serious acting so doing something like Extras is a piece of cake for me."

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