The Office: The David Brents from around the world

From Saudi Arabia to Chile, Ricky Gervais' creation has gone global

THE OFFICE, Ricky Gervais, 2001-2003, © BBC Ltd. / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Ricky Gervais in The Office. (BBC)

When Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant sat down to put together a 20 minute short film entitled Seedy Bosses as part of Merchant's producer training at the BBC, it's unlikely they expected the end result to be a global franchise that has conquered America and expanded to much of the rest of the world.

While The Office started out as a uniquely British phenomenon that was somewhat anachronistic with its single camera set up and lack of laugh track, it is now one of the most revered sitcoms of all time.

Such is the success, the rights to the show have been bought my many countries around the world for their own versions.

Read more: 'The Office' stars 20 years on: Where are they now?

Some of these shows became hugely successful – Steve Carrell is probably still best known for his role in the American Office – while others are lesser known.

With the 13th adaptation announced – this time by Australia – we take a look at all of the different versions of David Brent that have adorned TV screens around the world over the last 20 years.

UK: David Brent (Ricky Gervais)

THE OFFICE, Ricky Gervais (right), 2001-03.
The cast of The Office. (BBC)

A Slough based manager of an office that makes paper, Ricky Gervais' delusional hero is one of the most popular comic character of the last 20 years. Gervais himself has spent the time trying to replicate the success of his first role but has never gotten close.

USA: Michael Scott (Steve Carrell)

Description: Season 4.  Original Film Title: OFFICE, THE.  English Title: OFFICE, THE.  Film Director: RICKY GERVAIS; STEPHEN MERCHANT.  Year: 2005.  Stars: STEVE CARELL. Credit: NBC UNIVERSAL TELEVISION / LUBIN, JUSTIN / Cortesía Album
Steve Carrell in The Office. (Alamy)

The American version of The Office ran for nine seasons with Carrell leading a large ensemble for eight of them. The fact that the show was cancelled after one Carrell-less season says everything you need to know about The Office trying to work without its David Brent figure.

Germany: Bernd Stromberg (Christoph Maria Herbst)

ARNSBERG, GERMANY - MARCH 19:  Christoph Maria Herbst (who plays Bernd Stromberg) visits the set of 'Stromberg - Der Film' at Dorint Hotel on March 19, 2013 in Arnsberg, Germany.  (Photo by Mathis Wienand/Getty Images)
Christoph Maria Herbst in the German version of The Office. (Getty Images)

The Germans were the first to adapt The Office with Stromberg, named after the lead character. Looser than other adaptations though maintaining the mockumentary format, Stromberg became one of the most popular shows in Central Europe and later produced a spin-off film and a bestselling book.

Canada: David Gervais (Antoine Vezina)

Aptly titled La Job, the Canadian version paid homage to Ricky Gervais by naming the character after him and also stayed very faithful to the British original especially by keeping the failed rockstar elements. The show used the original British scripts rather than create their own as was the case with most of the adaptations.

France: Gilles Triquet (Francois Berleand)

Francois Berleand Acteur francais Mars 2006 Emission de television Pour le plaisir. Collection Christophel © LECOEUVRE PHOTOTHEQUE
Francois Berleand stars in the French version of The Office. (Alamy)

Played by The Transporter star Francois Berleand, France's version of David Brent only existed for six episodes before facing the axe. Like the Canadian adaptation, France adapted the original scripts from Gervais and Merchant to make them more French.

Chile: Manuel Cerda (Luis Gnecco)

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MAY 09: Luis Gnecco poses for a photo during the first day of filming for the film
Luis Gnecco stars in the Chilean version of The Office. (Getty Images)

While Chile never fully embraced The Office, their version of the show has gone on to become a cult success in the South American country. The Chilean version of David Brent is known for his peculiar sense of humour and xenophobia.

Israel: Avi Meshulam (Dvir Benedek)

Like many of the other iterations of The Office, HaMisrad satirises the human conditions and relationships and stereotypes between different genders and races while also offering a take on contemporary politics in the Middle East by including Arabs, secular Jews and African immigrants among its cast. Running for 30 episodes, the show deviated from the original show the longer it went on.

Sweden: Ove Sundberg (Henrik Dorsen)

A more recent adaptation saw The Office head to Sweden. The show had high expectations but suffered from poor reviews and controversy over a scene that saw a character doing an impression of a person with cerebral palsy. It was eventually cancelled after two seasons and dwindling viewing figures.

Czech Republic: Marek Chvála (Vaclav Kopta)

Vaclav Kopta has a knack of appearing in Czech adaptations of popular British shows. As well as appearing as the Czech version of David Brent, he also starred in an adaption of Doc Martin which proved to be more successful as The Office aired briefly in December 2014.

Finaland: Pentti Markkanen (Sami Hedberg)

The Finnish version of The Office has been a hit with viewers if not critics. Reviewers have said the show's humour does not translate very well to Finnish while the performance of lead Sami Hedberg has also been criticised. Despite this, it has been popular with audiences and a third season is currently in the works.

India: Jagdeep Chadda (Mukul Chadda)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 22: Mukul Chadda on the red carpet during the 58th Chicago International Film Festival, at AMC River East Theater on October 22, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images)
Mukul Chadda stars in the Indian version of The Office. (Getty Images)

More of an adaptation of the American version than the Gervais original, the Indian version was criticised by local reviewers for losing the humour in translation but Mukul Chadda's performance was acclaimed with him receiving a number of awards nominations.

Poland: Michał Holc (Piotr Polak)

Poland's version of The Office is still airing with its second season released by Canal+ late last year. The biggest change between this version and the original is the addition of a leading female character who wants to bring change to the working environment.