Gervais may shun comedy for Soprano-style drama

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The Independent Online

With British fans of The Sopranos waiting on tenterhooks after the star character, Tony, was gunned down in the most recent episode, Ricky Gervais has said that making a British drama that stands comparison to the mob-based show appeals to him.

Gervais might not be an obvious successor to the lead actor James Gandolfini, but he is interested in at least creating something which breaks what he perceives as a cycle of mediocrity in British television drama.

Speaking in London at the launch of the second series of his show Extras, he said that he and his writing partner, Stephen Merchant, with whom he also wrote The Office, were ready to turn their backs on comedy and work on "something more dramatic". He made a scathing critique of British output saying that it compared unfavourably to shows made in America.

"All the things we like at the moment are coming out of America," he said. "There are things like The Sopranos, 24 and The Wire. These are things that [the British] just cannot do and do not do or anything close to it.

"They are innovative, audacious and done brilliantly. Those TV shows are just breathtaking and shows like The Sopranos are very funny. They have comedy writers that work on the show. It's the humour of real life."

Gervais said he wanted a British drama to capture the "ambiguity of morality" seen in some US shows.

He said: "I just can't remember the last time I watched a British drama. It was probably something like GBH. It is not like I give them a go and turn them off, they just don't come into my vision. I only watch about five shows and they are all probably reality TV."

The new series of Extras follows Gervais's character, Andy Millman, who has moved from background artist to minor TV personality with his own sitcom. The series includes guest appearances from celebrities including David Bowie, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and the actors Orlando Bloom and Sir Ian McKellen.

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