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It launched the careers of a generation of British comedy talent and perfected the cringe comedy genre.
As Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's stunning sitcom The Office turns 20, it’s hard to understate the impact it’s had on UK and international telly.
The influential show not only found a huge audience at home, but led to one of the most acclaimed American TV comedies of all time with the US cover version.
But it’s perhaps in the actors’ stunning success that its biggest legacy can be traced.
To mark the anniversary, we try to find out how the cast that brought Wernham Hogg to life have been faring in the years since.
Ricky Gervais (David Brent)
Following the two series and blockbuster Christmas specials, Hollywood beckoned with films like The Man Who Invented Lying, Ghost Town and the Night at the Museum series. He also managed to recruit Hollywood giants to his follow up series Extras, with other TV work including Derek. He revived Brent for his brilliant film version, David Brent: Life on the Road, and has won acclaim for Netflix series After Life. While his contribution to Hollywood with his acerbic Golden Globes presentation will never be forgotten.
Martin Freeman (Tim)
Freeman has become the most box office successful star of the show, enjoying roles in some of the biggest movies of the last two decades.
Playing Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a prelude to enjoying the title role in The Hobbitt trilogy for Peter Jackson, as well as a supporting role in Captain America: Civil War and then Black Panther, cementing his place in the MCU. He’s currently lighting up Sky1 with his role in comedy Breeders, and other roles have included Fargo season one and sidekick duties as Dr Watson in Sherlock.
Lucy Davis (Dawn Tinsley)
British comedy royalty, as the daughter of stand up and telly star Jasper Carrot, Davis has gone on to establish herself as a Hollywood TV star and has enjoyed significant success on the big screen, including Steve Trevor’s assistant Etta in Wonder Woman. In the last five years she has really cemented her career with great turns in the hit comedy Better Things, and most notably with the regular starring gig in Netflix’s mega successful Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as witch with a conscience, Aunt Hilda.
Mackenzie Crook (Gareth Keenan)
Crook became one of the most popular comedy characters in the first Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and appeared in movies like I Want Candy, Muppets Most Wanted and The Adventures of Tintin.
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He recently brought Worzel Gummidge to life in the recent series. Crook also created, wrote, directed and won Baftas for the sensational BBC sitcom The Detectorists, one of the most beloved and acclaimed comedies of the last decade.
Ralph Ineson (Chris Finch)
The gifted actor managed to shed the thuggish stereotype that came with his awful character Finchy, via a string of varied guest roles such as Sherlock and three of the Harry Potter films, and has become a staple of some of the biggest US movies and shows.
He was amazing in The Witch, then had a key support role in Spielberg’s Ready Player One, followed by gigs on the Coens’s Ballad of Buster Scruggs and TV hits like Chernobyl and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Stephen Merchant (Co-creator and Oggy)
Gervais’s writing partner, Merchant really stepped out as a personality when he starred in the follow up Extras as a useless agent, and has gone on to become a renowned acting talent in his own right. He's done HBO specials and series Hello Ladies, and an amazing list of movie and TV roles including Logan, Jojo Rabbitt, Fighting With my Family (which he also directed), The Simpsons and Modern Family. He worked with Gervais on Life’s Too Short and An Idiot Abroad, and launches his own new sitcom The Offenders later this year.
Patrick Baladi (Neil)
Since starring as dismissive boss Neil, Baladi has enjoyed a string of hit films and series, including Marple, Lewis, Hustle, Death in Paradise, Marcella, Waterloo Road, Stella, and a great run as a dodgy lawyer in Line of Duty.
He’s also recently shared the screen with Freeman as Darren in Breeders.
Rachel Isaac (Trudy)
That defining haircut! For an era defining moment in TV. Befitting a defining character & performance from the mighty #mackenziecrook #20yearsoftheoffice #trudyfinallytriesitonproperly pic.twitter.com/bQtWU6DLF2
— Rachel Isaac (@rachelwynisaac) July 11, 2021
Famed for her brilliant outspoken dialogue, Isaac’s Trudy was one of the most memorable supporting cast. She recently reunited with former Office-mate Freeman for a guest spot in Breeders, and her busy career since, in series like Casualty, Holby City and Ordinary Lies, while she has also acted own stage in Broadway.
In 2013, Isaac helped convict a man who had sexually abused her as a child, and bravely gave up her anonymity to highlight the issue in the media.
Stirling Gallacher (Jennifer)
Best remembered for being able to burst Brent’s bubble, like catching him phoning the talking clock instead of reprimanding a colleague, Gallagher’s Jennifer was the perfect boss for the chilled out entertainer.
— Stirling Gallacher (@wirlygallacher) July 12, 2021
She’s been best known since then as Paula Martin in Corrie, and has also starred in Holby City, Casualty, White Gold, EastEnders, Father Brown, Trollied, Doctors, and Little Britain.
Ewen MacIntosh (Keith)
As sleazy deadpan master of Scotch eggs Keith, Macintosh became one of the best known faces on UK telly.
And he went on to appear in comedies like Little Britain and Miranda, as well as Yorgos Lanthimos’s indie hit film The Lobster - most excitingly he has just teamed up with Gervais again for a part in After Life season three.
Vincent Franklin (Rowan)
One of the best guest roles featured exasperated training officer Rowan, played by acclaimed performer Franklin.
He’s best known for Bodyguard, Happy Valley, Doc Martin, The Office’s cringe descendant Twenty Twelve and The Thick Of It, and most recently shone in the brilliant Gentleman Jack.
Howard Saddler (Oliver)
One year since it was announced and we are celebrating the #CultureRecoveryFund which has enabled us to present some amazing productions #Two @MarcusRomer @joyseabee #HowardSaddler. Thank you @ace_national @ace_southeast @DCMS #HereForCulture We are very grateful! pic.twitter.com/Nm8XY1S38H
— Sheringham Little Theatre (@SheringhamLT) July 5, 2021
Seeing Brent teeter indelicately around issues of race was always as awkward as it gets, and Saddler’s Oliver dealt with the insensitive and inanity was a highlight of the second series.
In addition to distinguished stage work, Saddler’s screen work since The Office has included Holby City and Family Affairs.
David Schaal (Taffy/Glynn)
As awful warehouse worker Taffy aka Glynn, Schaal was the perfectly appalling balance to poor Brent’s wannabe lad. He’s also best known as Jay’s awful dad Terry in The Inbetweeners series and films.
Other roles have included Doctors, Hetty Feather, Veep, Hollyoaks and EastEnders.
Elizabeth Berrington (Anne)
The former Office pregnant mum has been one of the busiest Office cast-mates in recent years, and has just finished a great supporting run in HBO hit The Nevers, as well as Sanditon, Yesterday, Good Omens, Patrick Melrose and Vanity Fair.
Her other notable roles have included Vera Drake, Nanny McPhee, In Bruges, Fred Claus, Poirot, The Street, Waterloo Road, The Syndicate and Camping.
Oliver Chris (Ricky)
As Tim’s winning quiz team-mate in the famous pub battle, Chris’s Ricky was one of the few normal-ish employees to grace The Office.
He’s currently playing Paul in the brilliant Motherland, Freddy in Apple+ series Trying, and was also in the TV version of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
His busy CV also includes Stepping Out, Breathless and Silent Witness as well as the recent movies Emma and Dolittle.
Joel Beckett (Lee)
He’s the worst fiancee in the world in The Office, but Albert Square fans know Joel Beckett as charming hood Jake Moon, cousin of Shane Ritchie’s Alfie Moon in EastEnders.
Gigs since then have included Holby City and a longer run in Casualty, as well as recent movie 6 Days with Jamie Bell and Mark Strong.
Stacey Roca (Rachel)
After playing Tim’s other love interest, Stacey Roca enjoyed great guest runs in a wide range of shows including Doctors, Holby City, Wild at Heart, Strictly Confidential and Waking the Dead.
For the last ten years, she’s been enjoying great success in Hollywood, mainly playing leading FBI man Bill Tench’s traumatised wife Nancy in Mindhunter, as well as shows like Shameless (USA), The Expanse and The Blacklist.
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