It’s been 15 years since we were first introduced to the workers of Wernham Hogg, an unprepossessing paper company in Slough, Berkshire.
In a move, Ricky Gervais and ‘The Office’ co-creator Stephen Merchant collected the baton from Mike Leigh, Alan Bennett and Caroline Aherne and set about highlighting the comic treasures to be discovered in the everyday ennui of a bunch of colleagues, brought together through profession, not choice. The result - endless arguments over the office stapler, job titles and, somewhere in there, some hopeless dreams of life and love.
With 12 episodes and two specials, television history was made, sparking a catalogue many similar but inferior versions of the same TV mockumentary genre (with a suitably doffed cap to ‘Spinal Tap’, naturally).
In the 15 years that have elapsed, we’ve seen much of both Ricky and one of the stars he made - Martin Freeman. But what of the others?
As ‘The Office’ celebrates its birthday on Saturday 9 July, we catch up with the main players who made the show what it was... and we’ve still never seen anybody eat a Scotch egg like Keith from Accounts.
David Brent (Ricky Gervais)
At the helm of the Slough emporium - wool-chewing, key-sucking manager David Brent, an achingly accurate depiction of a man in mid-life meltdown, shrouded only by a veneer of self-denial and comic aspiration. In testament to Gervais' talent, even now a decade has helped numb the pain, Brent can only really be watched through the fingers, hitting as he does pulse points of contempt, pity and, of course, our own social fears and self-doubt. A comedic mould-breaker with a worthy place alongside Basil Fawlty, Alan Partridge and Frasier Crane. Ricky Gervais has proved to have far more professional acumen than Brent, selling 'The Office' across the world, including the US where he became the show's executive producer. Gervais subsequently made and starred in 'Extras' as frustrated artist Andy Millman, which won him an Emmy and a Golden Globe. In between continuing with stand-up comedy, writing a couple of children's books and becoming the first Brit to write an episode of 'The Simpsons', he barely broke a sweat with Merchant to send their bald, beleaguered pal Karl Pilkington off to visit the seven wonders of the world. But Gervais's lucky charm hasn't been limited to TV. He's also broken into film, featuring in 'Night at The Museum', 'Stardust' and, despite his distinctly non-Hollywood teeth, playing a dentist in 'Ghost Town'. And returning behind the camera as well to write, direct as well as star in 'The Invention of Lying', 'Cemetery Junction' and 'Special Correspondents'. His acceptance into the highest echelons of Hollywood seemed complete when he was asked to host the Golden Globes in both 2010 and 2011. However, the return outing proved a double-edged sword, when his uncompromising contempt for his glittering audience left them non-plussed, though garnering him even more comedic kudos everywhere else. Despite co-starring with the Muppets on the big screen and lending his voice to 'Spy Kids 4' with Jessica Alba and Antonio Banderas, Ricky continues to please his British fans, giving them 'Life's Too Short' with Warwick Davis. Although 'Derek' didn't please everyone, it earned him even more praise in the US, and another Emmy nomination - his 22nd! David Brent is shortly to make his big screen debut, AND Ricky got invited back to the Globes. METEORIC RATING: 10/10
Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman)
Love-lorn Tim provided the viewer's prism through which to view his comrades. The one ray of sunshine in his otherwise beleaguered routine was his daily flirtation with receptionist Dawn, and despite numerous hiccups he eventually got the girl. But did Martin Freeman, who played Tim, get everything he wanted in the final reel? Since 'The Office', Freeman has made his depiction of the slightly befuddled but well-meaning English everyman his calling card. He has played Arthur Dent in the 2005 remake of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' and performed cameo roles in Sean Pegg's 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz'. But he found a whole new fanbase with the sidekick character of Doctor Watson in the award-winning contemporary reworking of 'Sherlock'. Martin's profile has got even bigger over the past few years, with him donning a tremendous pair of prosthetic ears for his role as Bilbo Baggins in the title role of Peter Jackson's prequel to 'The Lord Of The Rings', 'The Hobbit'. He's also conquered the US TV market, with a starring role in the small screen version of 'Fargo'. His star looks set to continue to rise. STAR RATING: 9/10
Keith Bishop (Ewen MacIntosh)
Keith from Accounts was strangely extraordinarily deficient in social skills. With his monotone voice, short term memory and rare apathy to other people's sensitivities, he was a rare beast to be around. But since MacIntosh shred Keith's eczema-riddled skin, what has he been up to? Since 'The Office', he's appeared as a bus conductor in 'Little Britain', Pavarotti in Casualty and a taxi driver in 'Miranda'. He played a tour guide in the film 'Big Fat Gypsy Gangster', described as a "hilarious roller-coaster tour of gangland London and beyond". He was also involved in British romantic comedy 'Snapshot Wedding', alongside 'Extras' star Ross Kemp. More recently, he has signed on with Salopian Films for the lead part in a new comedy six-part series called 'For the Love of Ella'. STAR RATING: 3/10
Neil Godwin (Patrick Baladi)
Brent's nemesis Neil was an all-round nice chap - friendly, considerate, popular and effortlessly charming - obviously none of this went down well with our hero, who detected a conspiracy at every turn. Since his TV breakthrough in 'The Office', Patrick Baladi has featured in a nonstop range of TV roles, including 'Party Animals', 'Consuming Passion', 'No Heroics' and 'Bodies'. He even went a bit left-field to play tragic playboy Dodi Fayed in the TV movie 'Diana: Last Days of a Princess'. On the big screen, he went on a date with Emma Thompson's character until she threw him over for Dustin Hoffman in 'Last Chance Harvey', and played a lawyer in thriller 'The International', which starred fellow Brit Clive Owen. On TV, he played single dad Richard in BBC1's 'Mistresses' and he's recently appeared in TV thriller 'Marcella'. STAR RATING: A solid 6/10
Lee (Joel Beckett)
Warehouse worker Lee was Dawn's boyfriend, who became her fiance after a newspaper proposal - "Lee love Dawn, marriage?" Despite this strangely romantic offering, Dawn eventually found solace in the arms of Tim leaving Lee to muse on the changeability of women. After 'The Office', Beckett played Jake Moon in 'EastEnders' from 2004-2006. The shady character shot dead his brother Danny by mistake and Beckett left the soap in order to "further his career". Small TV parts have included 'Heartbeat', 'Casualty', 'Holby City', 'Doctors' and 'The Bill', and in 2005 he appeared in the movie 'Green Street Hooligans' as a pub landlord. In 2011, Beckett returned to the big screen with a role alongside Harry Potter's Tom Felton in 'Grace and Danger', set in WWII France. He's also appeared in pantomime - Jack and the Beanstalk at the Norwich Theatre Royal. STAR RATING: 1 and a half/10
Chris Finch (Ralph Ineson)
Despite all language, innuendo and general ambience, Brent's party partner in crime "Finchy!!!" the travelling Sales Rep had a strange amount of success with women. The man behind his character, Ralph Ineson, has also been successful since leaving 'The Office' (we're talking about work, not women). He's barely been out of it, with roles comprising stints in such popular British TV bedrocks 'Coronation Street', 'Waking The Dead', 'The Bill', 'The IT Crowd' and 'Waterloo Road'. Like Gervais and Freeman, Ineson has enjoyed international fame, with his role of death eater Amycus Carrow in the final three Potter films. He also appeared in Julian Fellowes' TV re-telling of the story of the Titanic. In 2015, he had a small role in the spy film 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'. STAR RATING: A surprising 8/10
Gareth Keenan (MacKenzie Crook)
Tim's jobsworth of a desk mate, otherwise known as Assistant TO THE Regional Manager (Brent was keen that this distinction be clarified), was a stickler for rules, including, presumably, the correct length of a fringe. 'Team Leader' Gareth remained throughout a sniggering sycophant eager for promotion and praise - has the man behind this haunting creation enjoyed such rewards, or found his own metaphorical stapler immersed in jelly? Mackenzie Crook has withstood the horrors of his haircut (unfortunate timing meant the actor's own wedding shots include this eye-boggling look) to maintain a robust position on stage and screen. He starred in 'Three And Out' as Paul Callow, a frustrated writer earning his living as a London Underground train driver. Quirky comic roles have, unsurprisingly, been Crook's staple fare, including his biggest film role to date, that of Ragetti in three of the lucrative 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films. Mackenzie's biggest solo triumph, however, has been 'The Detectorists', his self-penned gentle comedy co-starring Toby Jones, which earned him two BAFTA Awards on its debut. STAR RATING: 7/10
Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis)
Receptionist Dawn put up with a lot at the office, including her boss's attempts to charm her with his silver tongue, and a broken engagement with warehouse worker Lee, before Tim eventually won her heart with a box of paints. Dawn aspired to be a children's illustrator, but what happened to actress Lucy Davis when 'The Office' ended? Like her colleague Martin Freeman, Lucy played a part in Simon Pegg's 'Shaun of the Dead', and flew to try her luck in Hollywood, alongside her then actor husband Owain Yeoman (best known as Rigsby (the tall one) in 'The Mentalist'). While Yeoman's career flourished, Davis only got minor roles in 'The Mentalist', 'Ugly Betty' and 'Californication'. The couple separated and Davis returned to the UK. She finally appeared back on British screens in 'Married Single Other'. Dubbed the new 'Cold Feet', it was expected to be a big hit, but after debuting on ITV1 with 6.2 million viewers, viewing figures soon fell and it was axed after the first series. In 2012, Davis had a guest voice part in 'Family Guy' and was most recently spotted in 'Death in Paradise'. STAR RATING: 3/10
Jennifer Taylor-Clarke (Stirling Gallacher)
Hard-faced Jennifer Taylor-Clarke was David Brent's supervisor at Wernham Hogg, with her visits to the Slough compound regularly inspiring fear, awe and some toe-curling lust in Brent, who would regularly indulge himself in Uriah Heep-esque grovelling, while she tutted about the state of the workplace. Since leaving 'The Office', Stirling has appeared with Office co-star Patrick Baladi in the 2006 film, 'Alpha Male'. She's also played the Prime Minister's wife in 'Little Britain'. But her main job since The Office was her six years spent as Dr Georgina Woodson in BBC1's 'Doctors', following this in 2009 with a brief role in fellow medical drama 'Holby City'. Stirling is currently looking after her family, while making her own documentary, The LadyChain, about a range of ordinary women doing remarkable things to change the world. STAR RATING: 4/10