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Ricky Gervais agreed not to conclude ‘After Life’ with a suicide after he was warned by therapists it would upset vulnerable viewers.
The comic was paid millions by Netflix to produce the final series of his black comedy, in which he plays depressed, borderline alcoholic local journalist Tony Johnson, who spent all three series saying he was on the verge of killing himself after losing his wife.
Ricky revealed experts warned him if Tony – who was seen taking heroin on the show in one of his most grief-stricken moments – was seen going through with his plan it would leave sensitive watchers distraught.
The 60-year-old told the Daily Star Sunday: “While I was writing the show, therapists came up to me to talk about it.
“One counsellor said to me, ‘Please don’t let Tony commit suicide'. They explained they were using the show as part of grief counselling, so they really didn't want him to kill himself at the end of the series. I took that on board.
“And it decided it for me. That’s the reason I didn't write that as the ending.”
Gervais, who lives in London with his long-term partner Jane Fallon, 61, wrote a happy climax to the show, which ran for three series.
But in the final scene his character is seen leaving a fair with his dog before they fade away.
Gervais denied it meant he had taken his life, but alluded to his future death.
He added: "In the show, Tony went home and carried on and eventually he won’t be around anymore. My ending was saying that everyone dies, but not today. And when they do, life goes on.
“Eventually all there are is memories.”
Gervais also said he has been amazed by the reaction to ‘After Life’ from fans who have said it comforted them in times of grief and throughout lockdown.
He said about the show, which started in 2019: “So many people come up to me and say they identify with it and say they were like that when they lost their partner or their mum or their brother.
“I think the important thing about After Life is it deals with grief more openly.”