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The Office
Format Comedy
Created by Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Written by Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Directed by Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Starring Ricky Gervais
Martin Freeman
Mackenzie Crook
Lucy Davis
Oliver Chris
Patrick Baladi
Stacey Roca
Ralph Ineson
Stirling Gallacher
Opening theme "Handbags and Gladrags" by Big George
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 14 (List of episodes)
Running time approx. 30 minutes
Original channel BBC Two (series 1 and 2)
BBC One (Christmas specials)
Original run 9 July 2001 – 27 December 2003
Related shows The Office (U.S. series)

The Office was a British television comedy that was first broadcast in the UK on BBC Two on 9 July 2001.

Created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the programme is about day-to-day lives of office employees in the Slough, Berkshire branch of the fictitious Wernham Hogg Paper Company. Gervais also starred in it, playing the central character. Although fictional and scripted, the programme takes the form of a documentary (a fictional documentary, i.e. a mockumentary), with the presence of the camera often acknowledged.

Two six-episode series were made, along with a pair of 45-minute Christmas specials. When it was first shown on BBC 2 it was nearly cancelled due to low ratings, but has since become one of the most successful British comedy exports of all time. As well as being shown internationally on BBC Worldwide channels such as BBC Prime, BBC America and BBC Canada, the series has been sold to broadcasters in over 80 countries, including ABC1 in Australia, The Comedy Network in Canada, TVNZ in New Zealand and the pan-Asian satellite channel STAR World, based in Hong Kong. The show began airing in The United States on Cartoon Network's late night programing block, Adult Swim on September 18, 2009.

The show shares themes with a later social satire created by Gervais and Merchant, Extras, namely social clumsiness, the trivialities of human behaviour, self-importance and conceit, frustration and desperation and fame.[1] Additionally, Series 2 of Extras features a workplace comedy ("When the Whistle Blows") created by the Gervais character that broadcasts on BBC2 and ends with a Christmas special, as did "The Office."

Other national versions of The Office have also been produced. During May 2004 a French version called Le Bureau was made. A German version called Stromberg[2] was made in October 2004. During November 2004 a Brazilian show on the Globo channel, Os Aspones, was also heavily modelled on the series' format. Four years after the show's critical success an American version was initiated on NBC on 24 March 2005. A fifth adaptation, the French-Canadian series, La Job, had its TV debut in January 2007.



The show is set on the Slough Trading Estate in Slough, England, immortalised for its lack of appeal by John Betjeman in his poem "Slough" ("Come, friendly bombs..."), in a small branch of the fictitious paper company Wernham Hogg (where "life is stationery"). The show has no laugh track and is in the mockumentary style, devised at a time when documentaries such as Airport (note in the Christmas special where the man in the fruit shop asks Brent if he is "the fat one from The Airport") and A Life of Grime (which follow people performing their jobs) were popular.

The office is headed by regional manager David Brent (Gervais) and his assistant (to the) regional manager, Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook), who is also a lieutenant in the Territorial Army. Much of the series' comedic success stems from Brent, who frequently makes attempts to win favour with his employees and peers with embarrassing or disastrous results. Brent's character flaws are used to comic effect, including numerous verbal gaffes, unconscious racism, sexism and other social faux-pas.

The other main plot line of the series, and many of the more human elements found in it, come from the unassuming Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman), whose relationship with bored receptionist Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis) is a major arc in the series. Their flirtation soon builds to a mutual romantic attraction, despite her engagement to the dour and laddish warehouse worker, Lee (Joel Beckett).

The theme song for the show is "Handbags and Gladrags" arranged by Big George and originally written in the 1960s by Mike D'Abo, former vocalist for the pop group Manfred Mann.

On August 11, 2009, it was announced that the cast would be reuniting for a special, called "A Night at The Office", available at BBC2 and online.[3]


The main cast of The Office

Main characters

A comparison between characters in different series is available here.

The Office is essentially a character-based comedy, following around the people who work in the office environment. While being more of an ensemble piece than star-driven, four characters in particular are the primary focus of the show:

David Brent

David Brent (Ricky Gervais) is the general manager of the Slough offices of the Wernham Hogg paper merchants. He considers himself to be a successful maverick in the business world and a Renaissance man, talented in philosophy, music and comedy. Although he believes himself to be friendly, hilarious, and well-liked, he is in reality petty, pompous and snide. His immature behaviour comes across as he bumbles around the office — always hovering around the camera — telling unfunny jokes, performing hackneyed impressions and generally getting himself into trouble by talking before thinking. Brent considers himself to be a modern, politically correct man but his preoccupation with this attitude and the discrepancy with his often patronising (and at times offensive) jokes gets him into trouble.

Tim Canterbury

Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman) is a sales rep at Wernham Hogg. Unlike David Brent, Tim is funny and unpretentious. His witticisms and friendliness make him one of the most likeable characters of the show. However, he leads an unsatisfying life — at 30, he still lives with his parents and works at a job he believes to be completely pointless. He maintains his sanity by pursuing an improbable romance with the receptionist, Dawn Tinsley, and by playing practical jokes on Gareth. Although he wishes to leave Wernham Hogg to study psychology, his insecurity prevents him from taking any significant action. During seasons 1 and 2, he also fails to pursue his relationship with Dawn to a success. Chosen as David's successor at the end of season 2, he declines and lets Gareth take the position, which however doesn't keep him from playing pranks on him.

Gareth Keenan

Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook) is Tim's clueless deskmate and nemesis. Unlike Tim, Gareth is a humourless jobsworth with few attractive personality traits. He is obsessed with his military service in the Territorial Army and perpetually annoys Tim with ridiculous, pretentious comments. He prides himself in being "Team Leader", not realising his title is mostly meaningless, and "assistant regional manager", which David constantly undercuts. He imposes the little authority he has on his co-workers. Like David Brent, Gareth is arrogant and oblivious. Tim and Dawn exploit this last trait by repeatedly insinuating homosexuality through questions about his military experience. Apparently proud of his close connections with David and glossing over David's poor treatment of him, he later - during the Christmas special - gets back at his former boss by patronising and humiliating him in front of the cameras.

Dawn Tinsley

Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis) is Wernham Hogg's receptionist, and David Brent's dogsbody. She frequently has to put up with Brent's attempts at humour and social interaction. Like her friend and co-worker Tim, she is aware of the sad state of her unfulfilling life — she has been in a long, rocky engagement with her fiancé Lee, a surly warehouse worker, and gave up illustrating children's books to pursue her current fruitless career. During the Christmas special, Dawn and Lee return from their illegally prolonged U.S. vacation. At the Christmas party, Dawn realises her true feelings for Tim; she ends her relationship with Lee and returns to kiss Tim.

Secondary characters

Several other recurring characters, although not central to the episodes, have made their mark on office life. These include:

Keith Bishop ("Big Keith") (Ewen Macintosh): Keith works in the accounts department. Slow-talking, apparently emotionless and suffering from eczema on his feet, he is a man of few words. When he does speak, his comments can be surprising and sometimes disturbing. He likes eating scotch eggs and watching Peak Practice, even if it is a "bloody repeat".

Chris Finch ("Finchy") (Ralph Ineson): A "bloody good" outside sales representative, he is probably the only character in the series who is genuinely cruel. He is brashly confident, openly sexist, rasping-voiced with a natural flair for bullying others with swift, humiliating putdowns (with Brent being his usual target). He likes to dominate conversations and is successful with women, but shows a humourless vicious streak when he loses the staff quiz in series one. David describes him as his "best friend" but actually acts more like a lackey, laughing at his jokes and attempting to ride his coat-tails into the limelight. Finch repays him with disdain.

Jennifer Taylor-Clarke (Stirling Gallacher) David's immediate supervisor in Series One, nicknamed Camilla Parker Bowles by him, Jennifer is a serious-minded professional, and David's behaviour and comedy-driven style of management are shown to be puerile and ineffectual by contrast. At the end of the season, she is made a partner in the firm and, during Series Two, repeatedly reprimands David for inappropriate behaviour. In the last episode she supports Neil's decision to make David redundant.

Lee (Joel Beckett): Dawn's fiancé who works in the company's warehouse. She met him in school and they have been together ever since. Whilst by no means a bad person, Lee is somewhat humourless, unromantic and casually dismissive of Dawn's ideas of being an illustrator. His idea of an amorous proposal was a four-word notice in the newspaper — "Lee love Dawn, marriage?" — possibly to save money. It is clear from an early stage that Dawn stays with him out of a fear of loneliness rather than real love — Lee is safe and dependable. Lee is also more physically imposing than Tim, Dawn's other potential interest, and for that reason Tim finds him intimidating.

Glynn aka 'Taffy' (David Schaal): The misogynistic, sexist warehouse manager at the Slough Trading Merchant and Lee's supervisor, who is seen as being very slack and has little respect for any one who works outside of the warehouse.

Malcolm (Robin Hooper): An older, balding staff member, he is naturally most worried about the prospect of redundancies and therefore often challenges David's handling of the situation, criticizing his relaxed attitude, his lack of management ability and several incidents, such as hiring a personal secretary when the office is facing redundancies. When David assures individual staff members of their jobs, he stops right before addressing Malcolm. When David claims that he turned down his promotion to save his branch, it is Malcolm who reveals that the real reason was a failed medical test. Malcolm does not appear in the second season, probably having been made redundant.

Ricky (Oliver Chris): Introduced as David's new temp in the pilot, and is a recent graduate, having "just scraped a first". He was primarily featured in episode three, where he and Tim form a team for trivia night under the name "The Tits". The two end up winning, thanks to Ricky, holder of two blockbuster goldstars, successfully answering a tie-breaker question on Shakespeare, against Chris Finch. Finch, angered, challenges him over the circumstances of the victory in a petty feud, where Ricky calls him and Brent "sad little men". It is announced by Brent in the series one finale that Ricky is leaving.

Donna (Sally Bretton): Donna is introduced in Series 1, Episode 2 as the daughter of David's best friends Ron and Elaine, who has come to work at the office, and is staying with David. Donna makes a quick impact in the office, and fails to reciprocate Gareth's romantic feelings towards her. Later, David confronts her for not returning home, and Donna angrily announces she stayed at her boyfriend's house, later revealed to be Ricky. She is almost always wearing a purple top.

Karen Roper (Nicola Cotter): David's personal secretary who he hires towards the end of Series 1. David insists that he needs an assistant so that he does not need to do his own filing. Several of the staff are apprehensive about David hiring new and unnecessary personnel while the branch is facing downsizing and redundancies. David chooses her over a male applicant solely because he found her attractive and later accidentally headbutts her, bruising her under the eye. He embarrasses himself in front of her further when she joins them at a club, called Chasers, after work. When Jennifer sees her standing behind the reception desk during one of her visits and questions David about her, he denies knowing her. She does not appear in the second season, having been made redundant.

Alex (Neil Fitzmaurice): Hired by David in the first episode of Series 1 as a forklift driver to work in the warehouse, even though Alex does not have his forklift license. In the last episode of the series his protests against being made redundant are turned around by David and Gareth who question him on the differences between midgets, dwarves, pixies, elves, and goblins.

Neil Godwin (Patrick Baladi): David's (mostly unseen) counterpart at the Swindon branch during Season 1, he is promoted ahead of him when David failed a medical examination and becomes his immediate superior in Season 2. Neil is young, charming, professional and energetic, yet somewhat smug about this. He is a more competent manager than David, has a better relationship with the staff and even finds it easier to make the staff laugh. Brent is hugely resentful and jealous of him, and makes occasional (and largely unsuccessful) attempts to either undermine or rival him.

Rachel (Stacey Roca): Another of the series two intake from Swindon. Rachel is bubbly and considered attractive by both Gareth and Tim. She and Tim start a relationship, making Dawn somewhat melancholy. After a deluded Gareth reveals his plans to seduce Rachel, he is shocked to discover that Rachel and Tim are now an item. However, toward the end of the second series, as she begins to pressure Tim to make a greater commitment, Tim realizes that his ongoing love for Dawn is far greater than his feelings for Rachel and breaks off the relationship. Rachel is not seen again after the second series.

Trudy (Rachel Isaac): Welsh Trudy is first introduced in series two as one of several of the new intake from the Swindon branch. Almost immediately, she establishes herself as something of a good time girl, blending in well with the rest of the staff and enjoying a booze fuelled birthday celebration in her honour at the office. Her casual, sexually charged nature does not go unnoticed by the male members of staff and both Gareth and Chris Finch take interest in her. She and Finch are seen having sex in the less than exotic surroundings of a car park. By the time of the Christmas special, it initially seems that Trudy has mellowed somewhat, although she is seen in a passionate clinch with Oliver by the end of the Christmas party. Trudy is also quick to challenge Brent's style of management.

Oliver (Howard Saddler): One of the series two intake from Swindon. Oliver is good natured, tolerant, easy-going and quiet, which is lucky for him as he is the only black person working in the office. As such he is the target for most of David's well-meaning but hideously misguided attempts to show what a politically correct and racially tolerant man he is. In the Christmas Specials, we see Oliver's co-worker Sheila clearly attracted to him, although he actually ends up in a steamy clinch with the more confident Trudy.

Brenda (Julie Fernandez): Another of the former employees of the Swindon branch, Brenda is a wheelchair user, which naturally brings out the worst in David. During a fire drill, he and Gareth attempt to carry Brenda down the stairs but ultimately, as they see it as being too much effort for a mere drill, abandon her on the way down. Brenda is not impressed by David's patronising behaviour. She, like Oliver, is another character whose purpose is to highlight the gap between David's vision of himself as a modern enlightened man and the reality of his ignorance and thoughtlessness. Gareth, like Brent, is also seen to be incredibly awkward around Brenda.

Rowan (Vincent Franklin): A training facilitator in Series 1, who is progressively frustrated by David's attempts to undermine and take control of a team training session, often forcing it to veer off track.

Simon (Matthew Holness): Working in IT, he visits the office in Series 2 to install anti-virus software on the computers while discussing his theories with Gareth about Bruce Lee faking his own death so that he could go undercover and fight the Triads. Simon is also the record holder for the fastest lap down at 'SuperKarts'.

Ray (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Jude (Jennifer Hennessy): The only two recurring characters in Series 2 who do not work for Wernam-Hogg. Ray and Jude work for a consultancy firm which organizes business management seminars which include guest speakers in the business world to discuss work practices. They approach David about being one of the speakers but are totally unimpressed with his unorthodox presentation on motivational techniques in a later episode. When David is made redundant he is hoping to fall back on doing more presentations, but is deprived the opportunity when Ray and Jude tell him sympathetically that they will not be calling on him again for future presentations.

Helena (Olivia Colman): Appears in the last episode of Series 2 as a reporter for the internal paper merchant newspaper, 'Inside Paper'. While interviewing David she vies to retain control of her article as David tries to dictate to her what she should write.

Anne (Elizabeth Berrington): Tim's pregnant deskmate in the Christmas special, Anne annoys Tim possibly even more than Gareth, as she speaks continuously on topics in which none of the other characters have any interest. She is finally told off by Glynn at the Christmas party.

Carol (Sandy Hendrickse): David's blind date at the Christmas party who he hits it off with and who seems to like him. When after her departure, Chris Finch calls her a "dog" David finally steps up to him and tells him to "fuck off".

The Ogg Monster (Stephen Merchant) Gareth's bizarre friend. His real name is Nathan.


In total there are fourteen episodes of The Office, six in each series and two 45-minute episodes making up the Christmas special.

"The Office Values" and "Realising Potential"

In 2004, Microsoft UK commissioned two 20-minute corporate videos featuring David Brent being interviewed by Jeff (Stephen Merchant), a Microsoft employee who becomes increasingly exasperated by Brent's antics. The ongoing theme is Brent's obvious resentment at the company's success. Brent also appears to believe he has what it takes to become the next managing director of Microsoft and continually drops hints to that effect. While not on general release, the videos emerged on the internet in 2006. They were posted on both YouTube and Google Video.[4] The clips also appeared on certain peer-to-peer networks. Microsoft was unhappy with the leak, stating that the videos "were never intended to be viewed by the public".[5]


In January 2004, The Office won the Golden Globe Award for "Best Television Series: Musical Or Comedy", beating nominees Arrested Development, Monk, Sex and the City and Will & Grace. It was the only British comedy in 25 years to be nominated for a Golden Globe, and the first ever to win one. Ricky Gervais was also awarded the Golden Globe for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series: Musical or Comedy" for his role.

The series won the Best TV Comedy award, and Gervais the Best TV Comedy Actor award, at the British Comedy Awards 2002.

In 2004, the BBC's Britain's Best Sitcom public poll voted it the 25th all-time favourite out of a preselected list of 100.

In 2005, the series' concluding two-part special was nominated for two Emmys in the categories of "Outstanding Made for Television Movie" and "Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special".[6] Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "We love the Scranton crew. But Ricky Gervais' mockumentary series about sadsack employees in Slough, England, is the undisputed champion of awesomely awkward cubicle hell."[7]


Main cast

Minor cast

Series One and Two

  • Joel Beckett as Lee
  • Ben Bradshaw as Ben
  • Jamie Deeks as Jamie
  • Jane Lucas as Sheila
  • Ewen Macintosh as Keith
  • Emma Manton as Emma
  • Ron Merchant as Gordon
  • Alexander Perkins as Ralph
  • Phillip Pickard as Phillip
  • David Schaal as Glynn

Series One only

  • Sally Bretton as Donna
  • Oliver Chris as Ricky Howard
  • Angela Clerkin as Jackie
  • Yvonne D'Alpra as Joan
  • Robin Hooper as Malcolm
  • Vincent Franklin as Rowan (training facilitator)
  • Nicola Cotter as Karen Roper

Series Two only

Music / Theme song

In 2000, a version of Handbags and Gladrags, a song written by Mike d'Abo was specifically arranged by Big George as the theme song to The Office series. Three versions were recorded:

  • a short, instrumental piece as the opening titles theme
  • a short, vocal piece as the closing titles theme
  • an alternative full studio version

All vocal versions feature the vocal performance of Waysted vocalist Fin.

In series one, episode four, a version performed by Ricky Gervais (in character as David Brent) was featured over the end credits.

The first series also features Gervais performing 'Free Love Freeway' and the Christmas Special includes him performing 'If You Don't Know Me by Now'. Both of these songs are included in full on the DVD box set, with Noel Gallagher accompanying for Freelove Freeway.


Region One

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
Series One 7 October 2003 6 This double disc DVD set includes all six episodes from the first series. Bonus features include the featurette How I Made The Office, deleted scenes, Wernham Hogg News, Slough slang glossary, and Wernham Hogg personnel file.
Series Two 20 April 2004 6 This one disc DVD set includes all six episodes from the second series. Bonus features include a video diary, deleted scenes, out-takes, and a Slough slang glossary.
Christmas Special 16 November 2004 2 This one disc DVD set includes both hours of the Christmas Special. Bonus features include a documentary on the making of the specials, the full uncut music video of David Brent's cover of "If You Don't Know Me by Now", a featurette on the making of "Freelove Freeway", and a Golden Globes featurette.
Complete Collection 16 November 2004 14 This four disc DVD set includes all 12 episodes from the first and second series, and both parts of the Christmas special. Bonus features include the How I Made The Office documentary, deleted scenes, out-takes, a video diary, a Golden Globes featurette, and a music video.

Cultural references

In the first season of the American ABC television series Lost, the character of Charlie dates a woman who's father is rich, in the episode, Homecoming. Charlie asks his girlfriend: "So, where's the old man?" To which she replies in a reference to The Office: "I don't know. I think he's buying some paper company up in Slough."[8]


  1. ^ Bilmes, Alex. "Heeeere's Ricky!". Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  2. ^ ""Stromberg (ProSieben)". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  3. ^ August 2004. "Ricky Gervais... Obviously". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  4. ^ "Ricky Gervais - Microsoft 1". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  5. ^ "Microsoft unhappy at Gervais leak". BBC News. 2006-08-30. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  6. ^ [1].
  7. ^ Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "THE 100 Greatest MOVIES, TV SHOWS, ALBUMS, BOOKS, CHARACTERS, SCENES, EPISODES, SONGS, DRESSES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND TRENDS THAT ENTERTAINED US OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  8. ^ Charlie Pace (Character) - Quotes The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 19, 2010.

Further reading

External links


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