A night to remember for Colin Firth – a night to forget for Ricky Gervais

As one British star used the Golden Globes to bolster his reputation for charm and dignity, another was intent on pricking as many egos as possible.

Colin Firth walked away with the prize for best actor in The King's Speech, but it was Ricky Gervais who was the main talking point on Sunday night, as the host earned gasps, a few well-timed ripostes and some rather nervous laughter for his characteristic close-to-the-bone performance.

It did not take Gervais long to provoke the A-list audience at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. By the time he wound up his four-minute opening, he had managed to insult Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen, Cher, all the stars of Sex and the City 2, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Hugh Hefner.

Bruce Willis appeared to be upset when he was later introduced as "Ashton Kutcher's dad", but still not content with his night's work, Gervais went on to insult Robert Downey Jr and Tim Allen. Downey Jr summed up the feeling in the auditorium. After the wisecracking host suggested the actor was best known for his time in prison and rehabilitation centres, the Iron Man star said: "Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far."

Gervais, who must have calculated that the inevitable backlash would do his profile and career more good than harm, also made pointed jibes about the organisers of the awards, referring to recent allegations of corruption. "I'd like to crush this ridiculous rumour that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so that the foreign press could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie," he said. "That was not the only reason; they also accepted bribes." This led Philip Berk, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, to say: "Ricky, next time you want me to help you qualify your movie, go to another guy."

The comedian seemed to disappear from the proceedings at one point, provoking online speculation that his humour was being questioned by the event's organisers. Others suspected the spats had all been scripted. He reappeared an hour later with slightly less provocative material, but later said: "I did every single introduction I was meant to. There just happened to be a long gap." After the show he said: "I probably won't be here next year", but if he was he would go "mental".

His performance earned him rough treatment by the American newspapers yesterday. The Washington Post TV reviewer, Hank Stuever, asked: "Are we at war with England? If not, then why have we been subjected to two years of Gervais?"

Gervais's barbs...

* "It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking – or as Charlie Sheen calls it: breakfast."

* "Everything this year was three-dimensional, except the characters in The Tourist. I feel bad about that joke. I'm jumping on the bandwagon, because I haven't even seen that movie. Who has?"

* "Next up, Eva Longoria has the daunting task of introducing the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press. That's nothing, I just had to help him off the toilet and pop his teeth in."



... And the reaction

* Tom Hanks: "We recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian." Tim Allen: "Neither of which he is now."

* Time magazine: "There's a fine line between playful and mean-spirited. Gervais bulldozed over the nuance."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory