Gervais has performed on three sell-out stand-up comedy tours, wrote the best-selling Flanimals book series, and starred with Merchant and Karl Pilkington in his podcast The Ricky Gervais Show. He has accumulated a multitude of awards and honours throughout his career, including seven BAFTA Awards, four British Comedy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two Emmy Awards and the 2006 Rose d'Or, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.
During Xfm London's The Ricky Gervais Show and in further newspaper interviews with The Independent, Gervais noted that he believes his birth was unplanned due to the age difference between his youngest sibling and himself. During one interview with the Independent, Gervais tells the author that even his mother admitted his birth was unplanned.
Gervais has stated that his upbringing and childhood were stable and trauma-free, with a high level of honesty and openness between his family members. He described it as "much like [how] The Waltons" made fun of each other.
Gervais began his secondary education at Ashmead School, before moving on to University College London in 1979. While there, he studied Biology, and later changed to Philosophy, in which he received a lower second class honours. It was during his time at UCL that he met his long-time girlfriend, Jane Fallon.
Watching wildlife programmes as a child affected Gervais's understanding of cruelty towards animals. He is supportive of a declaration for animal rights, as well as the WSPA (an animal welfare organisation), and is against fox-hunting and bull fighting. He has also written to PM Gordon Brown urging him to implement a fur-free policy at the Ministry of Defence, as Gervais is against the use of real Canadian black bear fur in the Bearskins used by the Foot Guards.
Ricky Gervais says he was an atheist by the age of ten. In 2007 he told Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs, "I'm an atheist". In June 2008 he became an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.
He cannot drive, as stated in his radio show as well as in the DVD commentaries to The Office and Politics. He has a second-floor office in Tottenham Court Road, London, where he records his podcasts with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington.
A gang stole £200,000 from his bank account by pasting a picture of him from his Office DVD onto a dead man's passport and using an insider from the bank to transfer the funds. When they tried to use the money to buy gold, they were arrested. They were sentenced to between two and two and a half years in prison.
He is also commonly a guest on the Opie & Anthony Show.
A year later, the single "More to Lose" was re-released in Manila as "Medium" by "Fade". The single gained a following by Filipino teenagers after being played by a local DJ on station DWRT-FM (99.5).
He was briefly the manager of the band Suede and a Queen tribute band.
Gervais, needing an assistant, interviewed the first person whose curriculum vitae he saw. The CV belonged to Stephen Merchant. During the interview at a local pub, Gervais asked Merchant to do "all the boring stuff" due to his experience in media studies while Gervais "mess[ed] around". Merchant agreed. In 1996 he was made redundant when the station was taken over by the Capital Radio group.
Gervais was music adviser for the popular 1996-1997 BBC drama This Life, which was being produced by his girlfriend Jane Fallon. He and Merchant also contributed sketches to BBC Radio 1's The Breezeblock in 1999 and 2000.
Following the first season of The Office, Gervais and Merchant returned to Xfm in November 2001 for a Saturday radio show. The show ran intermittently until January 2004 with breaks of 1-3 months between new shows. This was their first time working with Karl Pilkington. Pilkington produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts.
He returned to the airwaves on 28 May 2005 to host the show once again with Pilkington and Merchant. He was also heard on BBC Radio 2 during Christmas 2005, sitting in for Jonathan Ross for two weeks.
In late 2006, three more free podcasts were released. Together called "The Podfather Trilogy," these debuted at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, respectively. In October 2007, another free full-length podcast was released through iTunes; this podcast was originally given out for free during a performance of Gervais' Fame tour in London. On 25 November 2007, Gervais, Merchant, and Pilkington released another free full-length podcast which lasted just over an hour.
In August 2008, Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington recorded a final set of audiobooks running over 2 hours, which was released on the 16th September.
Gervais contributed to the BAFTA winning The Sketch Show (ITV) penning several sketches. His mainstream TV debut came in September 1998 as part of Channel 4's "Comedy Lab" series of pilots. His one-off show, Golden Years, focused on a David Bowie-obsessed character called Clive Meadows. He then came to much wider national attention with an obnoxious, cutting persona featured in a topical slot which replaced Ali G's segments on the satirical Channel 4 comedy programme The 11 O'Clock Show in early 1999 where his character used as many expletives as was possible and produced an inordinate amount of politically incorrect statements. Among the other regular featured comedians on the show was Mackenzie Crook, later a co-star of The Office. Two years later Gervais went on to present his own comedy chat show for Channel 4 called Meet Ricky Gervais; it was poorly received and has since been mocked by Gervais himself.
Throughout this time Gervais also wrote for BBC sketch show Bruiser and The Jim Tavare Show, and had cameo roles in Channel 4's sitcom Spaced; it is speculated that the cameo is indeed The Office character David Brent. However both series of Spaced finished airing before The Office premiered. Gervais also appeared in a few of Channel 4's 'Top 100...' list programmes, and voiced the character of Penguin in Robbie the Reindeer's Legend of the Lost Tribe. His voice was redubbed for the US market.
On 5 January 2006, he interviewed Larry David, in a one off special, Ricky Gervais Meets... Larry David. On 25 December and 26 December of the same year, Channel 4 aired similar specials where he interviewed the actor/comedian Christopher Guest and infamously Garry Shandling. There are no plans for further episodes of "Meets...", although editions with John Cleese and Matt Groening were recorded in 2006, for broadcast in 2007. A source claimed "The Shandling experience put him off for good."
Gervais guest-starred in an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife", which aired on 26 March 2006 in the United States, on 23 April 2006 in the United Kingdom, and on 18 July 2006 in Australia. He is the only British comic to write and star in a Simpsons episode. The episode was the highest rated in Sky One's history, arguably due to its extensive promotion, which revolved around the angle that Gervais was the episode's sole writer (and the first guest star on the show to also receive a writing credit for the episode of his appearance). Gervais clarified the extent of his input in a joint interview (with Christopher Guest) for Dazed and Confused magazine (January 2006): "No, all I did was put down a load of observations on an email and they made it look like a Simpsons script. I'm going to get the credit, but I think everyone in the industry knows it was a joint effort." Asked in a separate interview about how his idea for the episode (in which Homer swaps Marge on a game show) came about, Gervais replied: "I've always been fascinated with reality game shows but I think it was my girlfriend's idea. We watch Celebrity Big Brother at the moment, we watch I'm a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here... we watch all those reality TV shows – The Office came out of those docu-soaps".Criticisms of the episode include its promotion of high definition television (Sky has just launched an HD service) as well as the quality of the script. Gervais is a long-standing Simpsons fan and presented a segment to mark the show's 20th anniversary on BBC Two's The Culture Show on 16 June 2007.
Gervais also guest-starred on Alias, appearing in the third-season episode "Façade") as Daniel Ryan, an English former Royal Navy bomb disposal specialist turned rogue Irish Republican Army bomb-maker. He has said about the appearance, "I did an episode of Alias, and I can't watch it. Me being serious. I can't watch it."
In late 2007, Gervais expressed interest in performing in the worldwide hit TV series Heroes. The character is said to be an 'extended' temporary character, to appear in a number of episodes, as verified by Gervais himself on the Heroes-related documentary "Heroes Unmasked".
Gervais made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live in a Digital Short where he claims that The Office was adapted from a Japanese program of the same name (with Steve Carell reprising his role as Michael Scott). The sketch recreates scenes from the American and British pilot episode with Japanese elements (albeit in a exaggerated way). "It's funny," Gervais laughs at the end, "because it's racist."
He has also appeared several times on The Late Show With David Letterman.
The first six-episode series of The Office aired in the UK in July and August 2001 to little fanfare or attention. Word-of-mouth, repeats and DVDs helped spread the word, building up huge momentum and anticipation for the second series, also comprising six episodes, in September 2002. The second series topped the BBC Two ratings, and the show then switched to BBC One in December 2003 for its final two special episodes.
The Office has since been remade for audiences in France, Germany, Quebec, and the United States. Gervais and Merchant are producers of the American version, and also co-wrote the episodes "The Convict" for the show's third season and "Business Ethics" for the show's fifth.
Guest stars on the first series of Extras include Ross Kemp, Les Dennis, Patrick Stewart, Vinnie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Francesca Martinez. A second series began on 14 September 2006 in the UK and featured appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Chris Martin, Keith Chegwin, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Richard Briers, Patricia Potter, Sophia Myles, Moira Stuart, David Bowie, Kate Winslett, Robert De Niro and Jonathan Ross.
A Christmas special of Extras aired on 27 December 2007 in the UK and 16 December 2007 in the US, featuring guest appearances by George Michael, Clive Owen, Gordon Ramsay, Jonathan Ross and David Tennant.
On 10 June 2006, Gervais and Merchant were seen in a specially-filmed promotional sketch for Extras 2 in the middle of BBC1's World Cup football coverage. This time, Gervais did not perform his famous dance. Instead, Merchant did - a take-off of the Crouch Dance, recently popularised by England striker Peter Crouch.
Some have suggested Gervais is influenced by Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Larry Sanders Show in making Extras, particularly in the format of celebrities making fools of themselves or subverting their public personas, and the Gervais joke of someone making inappropriate remarks in front of a member of a minority. He has interviewed both Larry David and Garry Shandling, creators of these shows, on Ricky Gervais Meets...
Extras was awarded the Golden Globe award for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy on 14 January 2008.
Gervais later toured the UK in 2003 with his stand-up show Animals. The Politics tour followed a year later. Both of these shows were recorded for release on DVD and television broadcast. The third part of the themed live trilogy, Fame, took place in 2007. It started in Glasgow in January and ended in Sheffield in April. Blackpool reported selling out of tickets within 45 minutes of them going on sale. More dates were added.
Newsnight Review's panel saw Animals during its Bloomsbury run and covered it in January 2003. They were not favourable, with Private Eye editor Ian Hislop being the most explicit in his criticism. After this, Gervais closed each show by calling Hislop an "ugly little pug-faced cunt." Further coverage on Newsnight Review has been overwhelmingly favourable, with the panelists playing 'themselves' in promos for the second series of Extras. Panel regulars Germaine Greer, Mark Kermode and Mark Lawson also appeared as 'themselves' reviewing When The Whistle Blows in a series episode. Critic Lawson is a great admirer of Gervais and Merchant, having interviewed them extensively for television, print Front Row and the Edinburgh International Television Festival.
Fame was the subject of some controversy in January 2007 when Gervais told a story, ostensibly about how people will do anything to become famous, to a Scottish audience. The story referred to a question asked of Gervais five years earlier by a reporter: what can you do to become famous? To which he replied, "Go out and kill a prostitute." He followed up with the punchline, "I won't do that bit in Ipswich," referring to the December 2006 murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich. The joke even drew criticism from the father of one of the victims, Tania Nicol: "These days they want to make a joke out of anything. I feel he’s just being uncaring, quite honestly." Gervais did not apologise, but did attempt to defend himself: "I do want people to know that that happened five years ago and is not related to anything now. That is the problem with comedy, a joke that is funny today can be a terrible faux pas tomorrow."
He has performed stand-up in the U.S. three times. He performed two warm up shows at the TriBeCa Performing Arts Center and headlined David Bowie's High Line Festival in May 2007.
In Grand Theft Auto IV, Gervais can be seen at a comedy club performing a 4 minute routine. There are several different performances that can be seen, composed mostly of material from his 'Fame' tour.
There is a wide range of Flanimals merchandise available, including dolls and gift cards. A six-part Flanimals TV series has been commissioned by ITV although Gervais had previously claimed signing a Hollywood movie deal so that a franchise could be developed. "That way it stands a chance of being the next Dr. Seuss or Mr Men".
In late 2006 the Extras scriptbook was released, as well as The World of Karl Pilkington presented by Gervais and Merchant. These were essentially transcripts of Xfm/podcast routines performed by the three.
At one point, Gervais was considered for a role in the Tom Cruise movie Mission: Impossible III, but it never came to fruition - Gervais cited reasons for this, on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross: "It was a bigger part than I first thought."
Gervais starred in Ghost Town, which was released on 19 September 2008, and was in Lowell, MA through May 2008 filming his next project, This Side of the Truth, starring himself, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Jason Bateman, with appearances by Tina Fey and Jeffrey Tambor. The comedy is co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.
Gervais also has a role in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV, as himself, appearing in his role as a comedian in a comedy club, and as an interviewee on radio station We Know The Truth. For this, a special 3-minute act was written, recorded and fully motion-captured.
In the weeks before the event was scheduled to take place both Merchant and Pilkington voiced their doubts as to his fitness due to illness which he had sustained weeks before the event, humorously, by stating that both they and Gervais' family had written up a petition to the BBC stating "Please do not allow this man to box."
Gervais was trained for the three-round contest by boxing famous trainer brothers Frank and Eugene Maloney, at their Fight Factory gymnasium. It was the second televised charity boxing match, the first being Bob Mortimer against Les Dennis, for Comic Relief. The fight was televised by the BBC, and Gervais came out on top by a split decision verdict. Gervais later said that the experience was the 'most difficult thing' he had ever done. He donated his £5,000 prize money to the training of a Macmillan nurse.
On 7 July, 2007 Gervais appeared at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London. Gervais introduced Rob Reiner appearing in the guise of spoof film director Marty Di Bergi, who in turn introduced Spinal Tap. At the start of the concert, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles, who was acting as compère for part of the event, announced that Gervais would be appearing and performing an 'extended 25-minute set', which ultimately failed to happen. It is unclear whether this was meant as a joke, perhaps referring to the time Gervais had to fill at the Concert for Diana the previous Sunday, or if it was simply cut because of time constraints, but in an off-stage segment later Moyles actually expressed disappointment that it didn't occur. Gervais himself however did reference his appearance at the Diana concert the previous week, saying, 'Now listen, we're running late, so I'm gonna be off this stage in 30 seconds, whether Elton John is fucking ready or not,' making him one of a number of people to swear on live TV at the event.
Gervais received an honorary award at the annual Rose d'Or ceremony in Switzerland on 29 April 2006. The award is given to "an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the global entertainment business".
|Writers Guild of America|| |
|Rose d'Or|| |
|Peabody Awards|| |
|Royal Television Society|| |
|British Comedy Award|
|Broadcasting Press Guild Awards|
In September 2005 he caused mild controversy by recording a radio advert for a prostate cancer charity which was only allowed to be broadcast from 9pm to 6am because of its content. However, on 3 October 2005, the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre announced that the advert could be broadcast before 9pm, but stipulated that a "squish" noise should be removed.
In February 2007, British ventriloquist Keith Harris refused an invite to appear on the second series of Extras, claiming that Gervais "wanted me to be a racist bigot" and describing the script as "pure filth. When asked about Harris' refusal on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Gervais claimed that Harris simply "didn't get it". Keith Chegwin, who assumed the role offered to Harris, said "the people who didn't get it probably think Johnny Depp really is a pirate.
In July 2007, following Gervais' appearance at the memorial concert for Diana, Princess of Wales, the Guardian ran a column by Daily Mirror television critic Jim Shelley entitled "Call Me Crazy... But Has Ricky Gervais Lost It? This related to his performance at the concert for Diana in which he had to fill time after a technical fault in the sound system for Elton John's performance. He was not allowed to use material from his current stand-up show 'Fame' for legal reasons, so instead performed his famous Brent Dance that the audience willed him to do and sang the song "Little Fat Man" from Extras series two (originally performed by David Bowie in the series) before being told he could hand back to the BBC. Gervais was allegedly booed off stage. He tells British radio station Heart FM, "After the Diana concert there was one guy - who works for a tabloid - and he wrote that the crowd booed… they didn't boo, they loved it." "People love it when something goes wrong and I was standing there and they demanded I do 'the robot dance' and it was funny."
The following week, the Guardian noted that Gervais had responded with "an exhilaratingly foul-mouthed tirade" on his website, concluding with the words, "Yes I am resting on my laurels you cunt!", in this video Gervais mocked Jim Shelley typing the words "Resting on his laurels" as Ricky jokingly lashed out by stating he was resting on his laurels and that he was not going to make another show for television and saying "What's the point? What is there to beat?".
|2001||Dog Eat Dog||Bouncer|
|2006||For Your Consideration||Martin Gibb|
|Night at the Museum||Dr. McPhee|
|2007||Stardust||Ferdy the Fence|
|2008||Ghost Town||Bertram Pincus|
|2009||This Side of the Truth||Mark||post-production; Also co-writer and co-director|
|Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian||Dr. McPhee||filming|