David Brent is still making us cringe, but is the joke now on Ricky Gervais?

It's two years since the Brent redundancy, and the documentary cameras are back for a follow-up. Gareth is at the helm - ensuring the new boss is just as popular as the old. David is now a cleaning products salesman. Dawn is living with her sister-in-law in Florida, but is back for the Wernham Hogg Christmas party.

Let's face it. After all the hype, the return of The Office was more of a whimper than a bang. Still it did retain some of its sparkle.

An ordinary office, the paper merchants' Slough outpost was meant to be anywhere, peopled by nobodies. Quite why the makers of a fictional fly-on-the-wall series would opt for such an anodyne location for their series was never explained. We've all seen enough of this sort of stuff - Their Lordships' House, The Fishing Party - to know that, given enough rope, the David Brents of this world will show themselves up in all their grotesquerie.

But thatwas the true genius of The Office: taking the Spinal Tap method of pseudo-doc into the bowels of everyday drudgery and middle management.

Of course it was an exaggeration. Surely no workplace could survive under a David Brent/Gareth Keenan style leadership. Yet it was close enough to reality to make it painful, too.

Some of the cast have found life outside The Office. Tim (Martin Freeman) was a softcore body double in Love Actually. Dawn (Lucy Davis) can still be heard as Hayley in The Archers on Radio 4. But Gareth (MacKenzie Crook) and David Brent (Ricky Gervais) have found it harder to move on. Brent embarked on a flop pop career and took part in a lame Z-list celebrity circuit. Gervais's path is not so different: he has a weekend radio show with co-creator of The Office, Stephen Merchant, but has yet to find a decent Brent replacement.

The last gasps of the series were poignant: we wondered if the end of Brent signalled an end to Gervais's massive talent. The series always made fun of here-today-gone-tomorrow life, but was this a joke on Gervais too?

BBC wins Christmas ratings war, but the critics are unimpressed

The BBC claimed yesterday it had won the Christmas television ratings war - but its victory may be a pyrrhic one. Critics derided the Christmas programming on offer as the worst in recent history.

The first instalment of the Christmas special of The Office, the cult comedy series set in Slough and eagerly anticipated, was watched by 6.5 million BBC1 viewers on Boxing Day - a record for the series that is normally shown on BBC2. But it generally disappointed and even its 30 per cent audience share was less than staggering, although it beat opposition on ITV in the shape of Agatha Christie's Poirot and even a re-run of Morecambe and Wise shown on Channel 5. The second instalment of The Office was broadcast last night.

BBC 1's controller, Lorraine Heggessey, said: "Providing great entertainment for all the family at Christmas is an important public service. It's great to see the audience throw open its doors to BBC faces in a range of original, home-grown programmes."

Not everyone agreed. On Christmas Day, audiences across all channels peaked at 27.2 million, more than a million viewers down on last year.

Oliver Letwin, the Shadow Chancellor, said: "If these figures mean that people are spending more time at Christmas in conversation with their family or are reading the Bible, then they would be very welcome. However, I suspect it means they are choosing to watch DVDs or play video games."

The most watched programme was Only Fools and Horses, which drew 15.5 million viewers. Seven of the top-10 rated shows were screened on BBC1, according to figures from Broadcasters' Audience Research Bureau.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo, writes Paul Scholes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker