Ricky Gervais reveals inspiration behind The Office characters to mark the show’s 16th anniversary
The Office will always go down as one of the greatest television series of all time since airing in 2001. The ‘mockumentary’ sitcom was written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and the show’s awkward humour and wonderfully simple concept captivated viewers completely.
To mark The Office‘s 16th anniversary, Gervais took to Facebook yesterday (Sunday, July 9) to reveal the inspiration behind three of the show’s main characters.
“I had David Brent as a character from about 1995 I’d say, and he is based on people I’d met throughout my adult life,” he wrote.
“The very first scene of the series, where he is talking to the forklift truck driver, is based on an interview I had at a temp agency when I was 17, in the school holidays. He was in his mid-thirties wearing a bad suit. His opening sentence was, ‘I don’t give sh—y jobs’; I just looked at him and nodded.
“He said, ‘If a good guy comes to me… [he pointed at me to let me know he already knew I was a good guy] and says I wanna work hard because I wanna better myself, then I will make that happen.’ He phoned his friend and at one point said, ‘Yes, of course he’s 18,’ then he winked at me and did the Pinocchio nose mime. (It was nothing to do with fork-lift truck driving but it was for work in a warehouse).
“I never saw him again, but I used to do impressions of him as I told the anecdote over the years. He was the very first Brent I can remember. There have been many since.”
Talking about character Gareth Keenan, Gervais continued: “Gareth is even more of a fool than Brent in many ways. And even more immature. There’s a very good reason for that.
“He’s based on the kid I went to school with. I talk about him in most of my stand-up shows. He’s the one who put a crab in a pint of beer on holiday, because I told him, as a joke, ‘When a crab is drunk, it walks forwards.'”
Finally, the comedian revealed his inspiration behind one of the most beloved characters on the show: Tim Canterbury.
“Tim is based on a guy I used to work with, mixed with Norm from Cheers, a little Chandler from Friends, and a touch of Oliver Hardy,” Gervais explained.
“Stan and Ollie feature in all my work really. The blind leading the blind. Both thinking they’re with an idiot. Both right. Both struggling. And both needing each other to survive. Beautifully precarious.”
The Office is available to view on Netflix.