Cut! Gervais to call time on 'Extras' at end of this series

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The Independent Online

Ricky Gervais has said he has no plans to make a third series of Extras because he detests programmes that drag on past their prime.

Gervais, who won a Golden Globe for his hit comedy The Office, is editing the final episodes of the second series of the show, in which his character, Andy Millman, an acting extra eternally waiting for his lucky break, finally achieves fame by writing and starring in his own sitcom.

The pop stars David Bowie and Chris Martin and the actors Daniel Radcliffe and Orlando Bloom are among the guests cast in the latest series.

But Gervais and his writing partner, Steve Merchant, have no intention of ruining their shows by producing too many episodes.

"Steve and I have always had this thing where we only like to do two series," he said. "It's like The Office: people are always asking us why we didn't do any more, but we just wanted to leave people wanting more. Why drag it out and ruin it?" he said. "I've seen that happen to other comedies and I hate it."

He added that he "really doesn't know" whether they will create a third series.

Their decision will draw comparisons with the 1970s comedy Fawlty Towers. Only two series, each of six episodes, were made of the comedy, which starred John Cleese as the irascible hotel owner Basil Fawlty.

Gervais, who also won British Academy Television Awards and British Comedy Awards for The Office, and is the only guest star of The Simpsons to write the episode in which he appeared, is hoping to move into drama. "I know people may say I couldn't be taken seriously, but I think it just depends on how strong and well-written it is," he said.

He said he has got "so many ideas" for a drama series. "I love starting from the beginning again, that's just brilliant. I think I could appear in a drama," he told The Sun newspaper. He has previously said that he would like to work on a series with "more weight", and said that "revenge is the best theme" for a drama.

David Butcher, the television critic with Radio Times, has seen the first episodes of the second series of Extras and believes that it is a "good call" to end the series while it is still so funny.

"The episodes I have seen are fantastic and no one would want to see the standard drop," he said. "Gervais comes across as a restless soul, and would hate to work on something that people thought was past its prime. Let's hope he creates another sitcom or works on a drama."

Butcher said that the second series opens up a "new universe of jokes". Gervais's character, Andy, is no longer at the bottom of the heap, instead he is very conscious of his newfound fame, albeit minor, and worries about whether or not he is a VIP.

Gervais is currently adapting his book Flanimals for ITV, and will appear in the film Night at the Museum alongside Ben Stiller.

A BBC spokesperson said it was not definite that Gervais would not make a third series of the show. "It is too early to tell," she said. "Obviously, it is his decision."

Going out on top

Fawlty Towers

Created by John Cleese and Connie Booth, Fawlty Towers ran to two series of six episodes. Frequent repeat showings of the 1970s comedy attest to the enduring popularity of the series in which John Cleese plays Basil Fawlty, an over-excitable Torquay hotel owner.

Nell Harper Lee

The author of the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird wrote for student publications and edited the University of Alabama magazine, Rammer-Jammer, before securing her place in the canon of American literature. Though Lee has worked on a novel and a non-fiction book since, she put both aside because she was not satisfied with the results, and has turned down almost every interview request.

Nasser Hussain

The former Essex cricketer captained England for 45 Test matches, from 1999 to 2003. A year after standing down as captain he announced his immediate retirement from first-class cricket while still at the top of his career. He now works as a commentator for Sky Sports.

Ronnie Barker

The late comedian and writer chose to retire in 1987 to Dean, a hamlet near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, to run an antiques shop. He was voted among the top 20 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders in 2005.

Eric Cantona

The former footballer ended his career at Manchester United, having won six out of seven league titles, with a surprise announcement that he was retiring at 30. Fans at United continue to sing his name.