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Written, produced and directed by its star, the show revolves around Tony Johnson, a misanthropic local journalist at the fictional Tambury Gazette grieving the recent death of his partner from breast cancer.
Deeply depressed and suicidal, Johnson resolves to give those around him a piece of his mind in the hope of making himself feel better, only to be surprised and frustrated in equal measure by the mixed responses his rudeness attracts.
In addition to Gervais, After Life also features a fine supporting cast of British comic talent, including Tom Basden, Kerry Godliman, Diane Morgan, Paul Kaye, Ashley Jensen, Joe Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton.
One actor not returning to the cast for series three is Mandeep Dhillon, who played junior features writer Sandy in the first two seasons and previously worked with Gervais on David Brent: Life on the Road (2016).
Gervais addressed Dhillon’s absence in an interview with The Radio Times, explaining that contractual commitments in the US were to blame, with Dhillon currently appearing in the CBS crime series CSI: Vegas.
“âWe tried to make it work with Mandeep,” Gervais said.
“So did she, but she had a contract with this thing in America and it got closer and she just couldn’t do it. Because of Covid, she had to go early. And that’s fine. These things happen all the time. You can’t get angry about it, so you rewrite it and I hope it still turns out great.”
He elaborated: “You let all the other things fill the gap. There’s too much anyway. All the episodes come in at 45 minutes. I’ve always got to cut 15 minutes, so you’ve just got to roll with it, whether people can do it or not.
“And you lose crew too. This happens all the time. And the third season makes it twice as likely some people have got another thing, or they don’t want to do it, for whatever reason. But you’ve just got to go, ‘OK, good luck.’ And get on with it.”
Instead, a new intern character named Colleen, played by Kath Hughes, takes Sandy’s place.
Another fan favourite not returning to After Life for series three is sex worker Roxy, played previously by comedian Roisin Conaty.
“With Roxy, we thought there wasn’t quite the story there,” Gervais told Digital Spy.
“It’s you know, it’s a mutual decision. I didn’t write them out.”