You aren’t alone if you could watch only some of The Call Centre, BBC3’s fly-on-the-wall series filmed at a Swansea cold-call factory, where bad banter met worse suits. The man in charge, Nev (that’s him in the brown suit with one of his acolytes) emerged instantly as a real-life David Brent, dispensing business park maxims and behaviour to make an HR department shudder.
I managed half an hour, tuning out as two workers set up an in-office nail bar for colleagues preparing for a speed-dating event organised by Nev for Kayleigh, an employee recovering from a break-up (earlier, Nev had offered Kayleigh the useless advice: “You got to remember, SWSWSWN – some will, some won’t, so what, next”, before taking her on a tour of the office in search of single men who might like to hug her).
But, brilliantly, Brent himself (or, rather, Ricky Gervais) sat through the full hour of cringe-making telly. The comedian tweeted: “Watching The Call Centre. I’m starting to think that David Brent isn’t so cringeworthy after all.” He later added: “This is a tribunal waiting to happen”, and then: “I honestly don’t remember writing it, but I must have, surely? I think it’s my best work. But I can hardly watch it.”
In a money-can’t-buy plug for the show, Gervais went on to accept credit for The Call Centre, tweeting: “Thank you for all your lovely tweets about The Office special just shown on TV. Appreciate it :)”.