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Ricky Gervais

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A Biography of Idiocy

Posted: 16/05/2013 16:46

Ricky Gervais

The Ricky Gervais Show Series 3 was released on DVD this week. To celebrate this final chapter I thought I'd tell the lovely readers of The Huffington Post the story of how we got here.

History
My current entertainment career started in 1997. I say 'current' to distinguish it from my failed pop career which started and ended in 1983.

Anyway, my current entertainment career started in 1997. Sunday, 1 September 1997. The day after Princess Diana died. Not a great day to launch a new radio station, but that's what was happening.

Xfm, London's premier alternative rock station, was finally officially hitting the FM airwaves after a few years of trying and failing to be granted a licence. I had helped them with their final, successful attempt, and my reward was a job on the fledgling station.

Previously I had worked in an office. I would later base a sitcom on it, but I didn't know that at this point.

The office I worked in from 1988 to 1997 was the admin floor of the University of London Union. I had worked my way up from receptionist to a middle manager. Event Manager to be precise.

After my failed music career as a singer songwriter I remained on the periphery of rock and roll, promoting bands, discos, and comedy nights for a potential 120,000 students.

I couldn't fit them all in the bar at once but my job was to try. I helped Xfm raise awareness amongst students leading up to their bid for a licence and got to know the people in charge. They thought I was perfect to be their new Head of Speech and also gave me the 11pm slot weeknights as a DJ.

I came up with the catchy and innovative title of "The Ricky Gervais Show" and it was here that I was first inflicted on an unsuspecting public.

My broadcasting stints spread like a virus as my official managerial job dwindled and I also started popping up on all the other daytime shows.

Out of the blue I got a call about a new show that Channel 4 were doing with new comedians called The 11 O'Clock Show. They were interested in me auditioning for it. Really? So it was official. I was now a comedian. This sounded so much better than a bloke who worked in an office. I jumped at the chance.

The rest as they say, is history. That's why I called this paragraph 'History'. I bet some of you were worried it was going to be about the Tudors or something boring. No. It's all about me.

Podcasts
To cut a long story short I have always loved radio. It's immediate and intimate. I always used to sit around as a kid with mates, playing each other records and mucking about.

How amazing that this became my job. I mean how amazing that that is even considered a job? Well it is. So there.

I loved doing radio but hated having to be off air for months on end because I was making TV or films. I don't mean I hated doing TV or film. I mean I hated the inconsistency for the public. I felt sorry for them having to listen to anyone but me. Thoughtful.

So I had an idea. I'd vaguely heard of a new medium called podcasting. And with my rudimentary understanding of the internet, I was very excited by the fact that not only was this something that could be listened to at any time again and again, but that it was also global.

Add to that the fact that there were no shareholders or watchdog committees telling me what was tasteful or decent and hey presto! the perfect medium for me.

I thought it would be best to present the shows as a series, as opposed to an indefinite string of everyday nonsense to make it more special and timeless. Less like a throw-away radio show and more like an old fashioned comedy album.

I also wanted people to listen to it so I approached the Guardian who were at the forefront of new media with a cool demographic for the rubbish I intended to spout.

They agreed that for a short exclusive run they would advertise it in the paper and even paid for me to build a little homemade studio in my office. It went rather well.

The venture was featured on the 10 O'Clock news and entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most downloaded podcast of all time with just over a quarter of a million. This is dwarfed (can you still say that?) today by its current accumulation of 470Million.

Animation
After it had been downloaded a few million times I wondered if people would actually pay for something like this on the internet. Karl was right behind this idea as he wanted to leave his job.

There seemed to be a sort of unwritten law that if something was on the world wide web it was up for grabs. There was certainly lots of bootlegging going on but I didn't much care.

I found that if you treated it like a commercial product, 90& of people treated it as such. Also I kept the price so low that it seemed like more trouble than it was worth to visit a dodgy site to listen.

With its new commercial success Karl did leave his job and I was worried that this would stop him moaning all the time and ruin the dynamic. Luckily it didn't and the miserable Manc t*** continued to rise to my bait for your listening pleasure.

The final chapter is of course an LA animation house approaching me to collaborate to make it into a TV series.

This seemed too good to be true. They were called Wildbrain and I partnered once again with MRC, who I had made The Invention Of Lying with as co-producers, and we pitched it to HBO.

Thirty-nine episodes later, we'd used up all the best bits and I think created a lovely document of internet ramblings.

I am so proud of The Ricky Gervais Show. Not just because of how well it turned out or how successful it was, or the awards, or even how much fun I had producing it. I'm proudest of the fact that it was just another experiment that got out of hand.

The Future
So why have I knocked it on the head? Well apart from the fact that I have a very short attention span, we actually made more episodes of The Ricky Gervais Show than anything else I've ever done. I also think we used all the best bits and I wouldn't want the quality to go down.

I was thinking of recording brand new audio at one time but then I realised that it wouldn't be the same. Karl has certainly changed. He's wiser, believe it or not, so it's nice that the show survives in a time capsule as a document of when he was a moronic little shaven Manc chimp. (Also it was quite time consuming and I was the only one of the three of us that actually produced the show. Lazy buggers. I worked hard for my lion's share. Haha.)

And finally I really need to concentrate on new projects. I'm writing and directing the second series of Derek, I'm working on a new movie, and I'm also bringing back David Brent for a series of guitar tutorials for my YouTube channel.

Anyway, just buy the DVD before they die out.

 
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