At the 2007 BAFTAs.
|Born||Ricky Dene Gervais
25 June 1961
Singer (briefly in 1980s)
|Domestic partner(s)||Jane Fallon (1982–present)|
Gervais achieved mainstream fame with his television series The Office and the subsequent series Extras, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with friend and frequent collaborator Stephen Merchant. Besides writing and directing the shows, Gervais played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. Gervais has starred in a number of Hollywood films, assuming leading roles in Ghost Town and The Invention of Lying. Gervais has performed on three sell-out stand-up comedy tours, written the best-selling Flanimals book series and starred with Merchant and Karl Pilkington in the most downloaded podcast of all time, The Ricky Gervais Show.
He has accumulated a multitude of awards and honours, 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.
Gervais, along with siblings Larry, Marsha, and Bob, was born and raised in the suburb of Whitley in Reading, Berkshire. Gervais's father, Jerry, a Franco-Ontarian, emigrated while on foreign duty during the Second World War from London, Ontario, Canada. Jerry met Gervais's mother, Eva, during a blackout, and they settled in Whitley.
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. He has claimed that his father was "drunk when he filled in the birth certificate", leading to the unusual spelling of his middle name.
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 claims that his family, "much like The Waltons", made fun of each other regularly.
Gervais attended Whitley Park Infants and Junior Schools and received his secondary education at Ashmead Comprehensive School, before moving on to University College London in 1979. He arrived to study biology but changed to philosophy after only two weeks and earned upper second-class honours degree in the subject. During his first and second years at UCL he stayed at Canterbury Hall, one of the University of London halls of residence in Bloomsbury. It was also during his time at UCL that he met Jane Fallon.
In his final year in 1983 as a student at UCL, Gervais and his friend Bill Macrae formed a pop duo, Seona Dancing. They were signed by London Records, which released two of their singles—"More to Lose" and "Bitter Heart". The singles failed to break the top 40—with "More to Lose" charting at number 117 and "Bitter Heart" peaking at 70 in the UK singles charts.
Needing an assistant, Gervais interviewed the first person whose curriculum vitae he saw. The CV belonged to Stephen Merchant. During the interview at a local pub, Merchant agreed to do "all the boring stuff" because of his experience in media studies while Gervais "mess[ed] around". In 1998, Gervais was made redundant (laid off) 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.
After 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, who produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts.
On 5 December 2005, Guardian Unlimited began offering the first of twelve free weekly podcasts featuring Gervais, Merchant, and Pilkington. Throughout January and February 2006, the podcast was consistently ranked the number-one podcast in the world; it appeared in the 2007 Guinness World Record for the world's most-downloaded podcast, having gained an average of 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month. On 20 February 2006, after the conclusion of the twelve-podcast series, it was announced that all future episodes would be available from Audible.com at a "nominal fee" (later, these had to be called audiobooks in accordance with iTunes policy). Two more series—each with six podcasts—were released between February and September 2006.
In late 2006, three more free podcasts were released. Together called "The Podfather Trilogy", they debuted individually at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. These three were known by Ricky and Steve as "The Fourth season". 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's 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 their fifth season of audiobooks, totalling 4 chapters, which were released on 16 September 2008.
Gervais has 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. Gervais then came to much wider national attention with an obnoxious, cutting persona featured in a topical slot that replaced Ali G's segments on the satirical Channel 4 comedy programme The 11 O'Clock Show in early 1999, in which 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 the BBC sketch show Bruiser and The Jim Tavare Show, and he 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 he 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 25th and 26th December of the same year Channel 4 aired similar specials in which he interviewed the actor/comedian Christopher Guest and comedian 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 because of 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:
Gervais has also guest-starred on Alias (appearing in the third-season episode "Façade") as Daniel Ryan, a 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".
Gervais made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live in a Digital Short during which 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 re-creates scenes from the American and British pilot episode with Japanese elements (although in an exaggerated way). "It's funny", Gervais laughs at the end, "because it's racist".
In January 2010, Gervais hosted the 67th Golden Globe Awards, making him the first master of ceremonies since 1995. He stated: "I have resisted many other offers like this, but there are just some things you don't turn down." His performance as host received a mixed response with positive reviews from the New York Daily News and the The Associated Press, but also some negative comments from industry bible, The Hollywood Reporter. 
In August 1999, while on a BBC production course, Stephen Merchant had to make his own short film. He chose to make a docu-soap parody, set in an office. This sketch later formed the basis of the interview episode. With help from Ash Atalla, Merchant passed this tape on to the BBC's Head of Entertainment Paul Jackson at the Edinburgh Fringe, who then passed it on to Head of Comedy Jon Plowman, who eventually commissioned a full-pilot script from Merchant and Gervais. However the BBC at first misunderstood the true concept of the series. They were keen for the series to have a narration akin to many of the docusoaps that were being screened in the UK at this time. They also favoured a laughter track the like of which Gervais and Merchant despised. To top things off the corporation wished to pack the series with established names: John Thomson or Neil Morrissey as David Brent, Reece Shearsmith or Alan Davies as Tim, and as mentioned by Lucy Davis on a DVD extra feature, Nadia Sawalha as Dawn. Gervais and Merchant balked at all the suggestions, and, inspired by Sylvester Stallone's determination not to sell the rights to Rocky without the promise of playing the role himself, Gervais held out to play the role of Brent himself, have total casting control, the narration and laughter track scrapped, and of course he and Merchant would direct every episode themselves.
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 they also co-wrote the episode "The Convict" for the show's third season. The show is currently airing on Adult Swim on Fridays, and prior to the show's airing, Gervais appears as himself talking about the episode that will air momentarily. In one of those segments, Gervais claimed the episode "Training" to be his favorite.
Extras had its debut on the BBC on 21 July 2005; it received its premiere on HBO in the United States in September 2005. Written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the sitcom ran for twelve episodes and starred Gervais as Andy Millman, a background artist. Millman is more self-aware and intentionally humorous than Gervais's The Office character David Brent.
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 Winslet, Robert De Niro, and Jonathan Ross.
A Christmas special of Extras aired on 27 December 2007 in the UK and on 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 BBC One'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 that 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 in 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 made a few attempts at stand-up in the late 1990s, but his first successful show took place at the Cafe Royal, as part of the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Titled Rubbernecker, the show also featured Jimmy Carr, Robin Ince, and Stephen Merchant.
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 Mark 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 could someone do to become famous like you? 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 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 defended 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".
In November 2009, he will headline the sixth annual New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall, New York.
Gervais released a children's book in 2004, Flanimals (illustrated by his friend Rob Steen), which depicted nonsense animals. After the success of this book, he released its sequel More Flanimals in 2005, with Flanimals of the Deep coming the next year. A new Flanimals book, Day of the Bletching, was released in October 2007. Flanimals: Pop Up is to be published later this year.
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".
The Office scripts have been released in book form, with Series 1 issued in 2002, and the remaining episodes following in 2003.
In late 2006, the Extras script book 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.
Gervais's film career has included small roles as the voice of a pigeon in 2005s Valiant, as a studio executive in 2006s For Your Consideration, as museum director Dr. McPhee in 2006s Night at the Museum and its sequel Night at the Museum 2, and as "Ferdy the Fence" in the 2007 film Stardust. His role in Night at the Museum has proven to be one of Gervais's most popular roles, with the movie grossing $570 million worldwide.
Gervais starred in Ghost Town, which was released on 19 September 2008, and was in Lowell, Massachusetts during May 2008 filming his next project, The Invention of Lying, starring himself, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Jason Bateman, with appearances by Louis C.K., Tina Fey, Jeffrey Tambor, Roz Ryan, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Edward Norton. The comedy, released in 2009, was co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.
On 2 July 2005, Gervais appeared at the Live 8 event held in Hyde Park, London, where he performed his famous dance. He produced a series of short films for the cause, linked acts from the studio with Jonathan Ross, and also introduced the group R.E.M.
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 2002, Gervais took part in a charity boxing match against entrepreneur Grant Bovey — known largely by the public due to his relationship with TV personality Anthea Turner. On his Saturday afternoon Radio show on Xfm London Gervais and partners Merchant and Pilkington had discussions on both Ricky's attitude towards boxing and training in general, as well as his likelihood of victory against Bovey. Initially, Merchant had questions as to why Gervais was participating in the event, due to his dislike of slight pain and his inexperience with fitness in general.
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's family had written up a petition to the BBC stating "Please do not let this man box."
Gervais was trained for the three-round contest by famous boxing 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 1 July 2007, Gervais performed at the Concert for Diana in Wembley Stadium, a music event celebrating the life of the late Princess of Wales. Towards the end of the event — after a pre-recorded introduction from Ben Stiller - Gervais appeared along with fellow Office star Mackenzie Crook. They performed Freelove Freeway, a song previously heard in the fourth episode of series one of The Office. Due to a technical problem, Gervais then had to fill time until he was able to re-introduce Elton John to close the show, so he did the David Brent dance again, as well as singing the "Little Fat Man" song as performed by David Bowie in episode two of the second series of Extras.
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 had not occurred. 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 currently lives in Hampstead, with his partner of 25 years, producer and screenwriter Jane Fallon. He says they chose not to legally marry because "there’s no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God" or have children because they "didn’t fancy dedicating 16 years of our lives. And there are too many children, of course". In August 2008, they bought a second home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City.
Gervais is a fervent supporter of animal rights, and has been a fan of wildlife documentaries since he was a child. He has spoken out against fox hunting and bull fighting, and has even written to Gordon Brown urging him to stop the use of black bear fur as caps for the Foot Guards.
He revealed that he is an atheist during a 2007 interview with Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs, later stating he lost his faith at age eight, and in June 2008 he became an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He is also a close friend of American comedian Jon Stewart and is a frequent guest on his program, The Daily Show.
His main friends are fellow The Office and Extras co-writer and co-director and podcaster, Stephen Merchant; fellow The Ricky Gervais Show star, Karl Pilkington; Flanimals' illustrator Rob Steen; and comedian and warm-up act, Robin Ince.
Gervais has received many awards for his work on The Office, most notably two Golden Globes (one for acting, one for the show itself), as well as numerous British Academy Television Awards and British Comedy Awards, amongst others.
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".
On 16 September 2007, Gervais won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role of Andy Millman on Extras.
|Writers Guild of America||
|Royal Television Society||
|British Comedy Award||
|Broadcasting Press Guild Awards||
The Independent newspaper has described Gervais as "obsessed by his own celebrity", but adds, "Who wouldn't want to be Peter Lawford in a comedy Rat Pack?" in reference to Ricky Gervais Meets...; the article, however, also describes him as "a very funny man" who "created one of the great sitcoms". The Guardian's Chris Tryhorn explained the "few gripes" he had with Extras, "particularly in the second series". "You can forgive Gervais a certain arrogance after the success of The Office, but..." He remarks on the confused tone of the series, taking in the clash between the broad comedy of characters Barry (Shaun Williamson) and Darren (Stephen Merchant), and the apparent parody of this style with When The Whistle Blows, and "given their total indulgence of Gervais, the BBC is portrayed as interfering, its comedy department run by a rather crudely stereotyped gay couple".
In February 2007, British ventriloquist Keith Harris refused an invitation 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's 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's 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 told 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 fucking laurels you cunt!" In this video Gervais mocked Jim Shelley typing the words "Resting on his laurels" as Gervais jokingly lashed out by stating he was resting on his laurels and that he was not going to make another show for television, quipping "What's the point? What is there to beat?".
|2001||Dog Eat Dog||Bouncer||Cameo|
|2006||For Your Consideration||Martin Gibb|
|Night at the Museum||Dr. McPhee|
|2007||Stardust||Ferdy the Fence|
|2008||Ghost Town||Dr. Bertram Pincus|
|2009||Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian||Dr. McPhee|
|The Invention of Lying||Mark Bellison||Also co-writer and co-director|
|SpongeBob's Truth or Square||Narrator|
|2010||Cemetery Junction||Len Taylor||currently filming Also co-writer and co-director, working with Stephen Merchant|
|1998||The 11 O'Clock Show||Various||Unknown Episodes|
|1999||Comedy Lab||Unknown||Episode: "Golden Year"|
|Meet Ricky Gervais||Himself||6 episodes|
|2001||The Sketch Show||Various||(Unknown Episodes)|
|The Office||David Brent||2001–2003, (14 episodes including 2 Christmas specials)|
|2004||Alias||Daniel Ryan||Episode: "Façade"|
|2005||Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show||Various||(Unknown episodes)|
|Extras||Andy Millman||2005–2007, (13 episodes)|
|2006||The Simpsons||Charles Heathbar||Episode: "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife"|
|2008||Ricky Gervais: Out of England-The Stand-Up Special||Himself||(written by)|
|2009||Comic Relief 2009||Himself||(segment)|
|2010||The Office (United States version)|
|The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO)||Himself||with Karl Pilkington & Stephen Merchant|