Ricky Gervais reveals inspirations behind The Office’s main characters to mark anniversary

Gregory Wakeman
·Contributor

On Monday 9 July, 2001, the very first episode of ‘The Office’ premiered on BBC 2 to a muted response. That wasn’t too last long. Soon ‘The Office’ blossomed into one of the most popular shows on British television, and now, 16 years later, it is firmly regarded as one of the greatest the world has ever seen.

To mark the anniversary of ‘The Office’s’ first ever episode Ricky Gervais took to Facebook on Sunday to post a lengthy diatribe about the inspirations behind some of its main characters, as well as his own musings on why ‘The Office’ has gone on to become so universally loved.

Gervais started off by admitting that he’d been working on the character of David Brent from as far back as 1995, and even revealed that the show’s opening scene was “based on an interview” he had when he worked at a temp agency at 17. But it isn’t just one man that’s the inspiration for David Brent, as Ricky Gervais insisted that the character evolved with every other boss that he had.

The stand-up comedian then went on to explain where the inspiration for Mackenzie Crook’s Gareth came from, writing, “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.’”

Martin Freeman’s Tim Canterbury was again inspired from someone out of Ricky Gervais’ life, this time someone that he used to work with, before Gervais added, “Mixed with Norm from ‘Cheers’, a little Chandler from ‘Friends’, and a touch of Oliver Hardy. 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.”

There’s plenty more fascinating revelations in Ricky Gervais’ celebratory Facebook post about ‘The Office’, including why the documentary format was so important, a staunch defence of David Brent, and why it is, ultimately, about the pursuit of fame and the pratfalls that come with that. It’s so well written that it’ll probably make you want to watch all 14 episodes of ‘The Office’ all over again.