Can Ricky Gervais return to form with David Brent's revival?

 

Ten years after he left the office and a Christmas party as excruciating as we had come to expect from Britain’s most cringeworthy paper executive, David Brent is back - fact.

Ricky Gervais has re-trimmed his goatee and dusted off his cheap suit to revive his most famous persona for Comic Relief. He’s previously returned as Brent in brief cameos in the hit US adaptation of The Office.

A trailer for The Office Revisited, a one-off special, shows the former manager at Wernham Hogg in Slough, embarking on a new career as a would-be music mogul.

Selling cleaning products door-to-door to fund his enterprise, Brent and his star signing, a rapper called Dom Johnson, work on a “political reggae” song called "Equality Street".

The return comes after a decade that has seen Gervais’s stock fluctuate with sometimes controversial characters and a flirtation with Hollywood. 

Gervais used his status after The Office to tempt A-list celebrities to send themselves up in Extras. The series was generally well-received, but the comedian’s eye for the mean and the margins of society haven’t always gone down so well.

He shook up Hollywood gentility with edgy turns as host of the Golden Globes, perhaps paving a path for Seth MacFarlane’s divisive Oscars gig on Sunday.

Many critics decided he had crossed that fine line between satire and degradation with Life’s Too Short, starring “showbiz dwarf” Warwick Davis. “Even if you don't find its content degrading, it is simply shoddily derivative,” Robert Epstein wrote in The Independent on Sunday.

Gervais faced similar criticism even before his latest series had aired. In Derek, the comedian plays a care home worker identified by some - but not Gervais - as having learning disabilities. But the series have won praise for showing a sensitivity not always evident in the comedian’s work. 

As Brent, whose one-off return will be broadcast on Red Nose Day, on 15 March, Gervais returns to safer ground. But the salesman-turned-record boss’s capacity to offend with a foray into urban music looks set to remain high, whether or not he revives his trademark dance.

Meanwhile – Brent is ineligible, but what’s the greatest sitcom of the last 30 years?

It’s probably not a question that keeps many people (apart from Ricky Gervais) up at night but New York magazine, the revered home of Tom Wolfe et al is trying to find out who deserves the title.

For reasons not entirely explained, British shows were ineligible but the Sitcom Smackdown is pitting 16 of the greatest sitcoms since Cheers revived the genre (think South Park, The Simpsons, 30 Rock and Arrested Development) against each other to declare a winner, with some of the magazine’s finest writers penning lengthy pieces deciding on the relative merits of Louis CK’s Louie versus Jerry Seinfeld’s Seinfeld. Inexplicably Frasier and Curb Your Enthusiasm aren’t in the final 16.

Last year the magazine did the same with TV dramas since Twin Peaks – the point where American TV drama rose towards greatness - and The Wire (unjustly, if you ask this observer) beat The Sopranos in what New York called the “Drama Derby”.

The idea of arbitrarily facing these labours of televisual love against each other may create spinning in the vicinity of Dennis Potter’s grave. And yes, we all these shows are worth enjoying on their own terms. But where’s the fun in that? And if anything except Seinfeld wins, we’re cancelling our New York subscription…

See the whole Sitcom Smackdown bracket here: bit.ly/Y20kdh

Will Dean

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick