Derek - In The Press

There's a massive spider on the wall in the men's toilet at the nursing home where Derek (Channel 4) works. Is it after the fly perhaps? No, because this is Ricky Gervais wobbly hand-held mockumentary style. Who is this camera operator supposed to be though? A recovering alcoholic? A resident? Maybe with Parkinson's? Certainly with no previous experience of camera operation - it's lurching all over the place, zooming in and out, I'm feeling a bit airsick to be honest. Oh for a bit of fly-on-a-wall steadiness.

And what are these amateur documentaries supposed to be, do you ever ask? I suppose a residential care home is a more likely subject than a Slough-based paper company, but I'm wondering if the whole mockumentary idea is a little tired?

Anyway, the reason for the big spider is of course to demonstrate Derek's nature. He's terrified of it but he certainly doesn't want it killed. "Go and get a cup, catch it," he tells Dougie (Karl Pilkington). "Make sure you catch it, and let it go free." Derek may not be the brightest tool in the box, or the bravest, but he's a good guy, kind and gentle, and he loves animals.

You can tell that Derek's not so bright, a bit backward, because of the way RG plays him. He hunches over a little, tilts his head to one side, darts his eyes around, grimaces idiotically, and he holds his hands in front of him, like some kind of rodent. Plus, he's not so good at declining his verbs. "Animals always tries their best," he says, demonstrating his selflessness and love of animals as well as confusion over the third person. It's the same on Twitter: "I loves animals," tweets @MrDerekNoakes. It's always a dead give away, poor verb declension ...

That's the biggest problem with Derek. Not, as some have said, that it mocks people with learning difficulties (it's too kind for that, and tries to be sympathetic). Just that it's a very crude portrayal. Gervais's previous characters - David Brent and Andy Millman - are not, I suspect, so very different from RG himself, kind of grotesque caricatures. Here he's trying to be someone else completely, and it's awful.

It may not be fashionable, but I'm a fan of Ricky Gervais. I used to like him on the radio with Stephen Merchant. Then The Office pretty much changed comedy on television, invented awkwardness. Extras was bold and bloody hilarious. I also very much enjoyed his Golden Globes hosting - baring a cheeky British arse to humourless Hollywood. But he's no Tom Hanks himself (and Derek's not Forrest Gump). Karl Pilkington also - I enjoy his Idiot Abroad show but he's no great actor.

Derek's father has moved in. He's a ladies' man, and he likes a drink (well, he seems to be Irish, maybe Derek isn't totally lazy-stereotype free). But the old man is a good 'un too. He's got a photo album, pictures of himself on holiday - France, Germany, Morocco, Spain - with a different lady in each place. "That's the point in travelling, boy: nookie." "Newquay?" says Derek, darting his eyes around, shaking his head. "I haven't been to Newquay."

A pun! Nookie, said a bit drunk and a bit Irish (same thing innit?) sounds a bit like Newquay. Especially if you're a half-wit ...

That's the other big problem with Derek. That it's not very smart. Or very funny. Or very good.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 24th April 2014

Would this have been recommissioned if it had been anybody but Ricky Gervais behind it? Probably not. Is the TV schedule better for it being included? Definitely.

Written by Caroline Frost. The Huffington Post, 24th April 2014

This show is the most rancid dollop of insincere gloop ever served up on telly.

Written by Christopher Stevens. The Daily Mail, 24th April 2014

Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington are back for the second series of Derek and we've already learned some pretty important lessons.

Written by Emily Hewett. Metro, 23rd April 2014

It's a fine start overall, with numerous emotional responses neatly housed within an ultimately safe environment.

Written by Julian Hall. Chortle, 23rd April 2014

The trouble isn't Derek's condition, or lack of, it's Derek himself. He feels like a cartoon in a world of verisimilitude.

Written by Will Dean. The Independent, 23rd April 2014

The new series of Derek opens with brilliant comic scenes about spiders, electrocution and sex between clowns and chimps but, by the end of the half hour, viewers just might be quietly weeping.

Written by Julie McDowall. The Herald, 23rd April 2014

My issue with Derek is that I can never really relax into it and believe that I'm actually watching a group of characters who live and work in a care home.

Written by Matt D.. Unreality Primetime, 23rd April 2014

A second series does give Gervais the chance to explore the characters more deeply, but with Karl Pilkington leaving in this opener the series instantly loses its main comedy draw.

The Custard TV, 23rd April 2014

Yes, Normcore. The 'theory' proposed by American trend forecasting collective K-Hole and picked up by New York Magazine as a fashion (or anti- fashion) movement that has become such a 'thing' that it's even been given a full page explanation in The Sun. The idea is that rather than trying to be different with what you wear, you try to be 'ardently ordinary' or 'endearingly awkward', and, for a character rarely seen out of his zip-up polyester cardigan and sweat pants, it means Derek is not just riding a Normcore wave, he's the king of the movement.

Written by Tom Atkinson. The Huffington Post, 23rd April 2014

There are reports that a third series is being considered. My advice, for what it's worth, is: don't do it. It is possible to have too much of a sloppy, sentimental, embarrassing thing, you know - even when it stars Ricky Gervais.

Written by Terry Ramsey. The Daily Telegraph, 23rd April 2014

The comic insisted that he will round off his Channel 4 comedy with either a full third run or a one-off special.

Written by Morgan Jeffery. Digital Spy, 23rd April 2014

The controversial sitcom about a mentally disabled man in a care home is back for another series. But are there signs that the creator has taken on board the vociferous criticism?

Written by Mark Lawson. The Guardian, 23rd April 2014

The pilot episode of Ricky Gervais's comedy set in a retirement home provoked a firestorm. The series that followed proved to be Marmite, so it's a surprise to find it back for a second outing. Critics protest that it mocks people with learning difficulties because Derek, the careworker of the title, shuffles around with his lower jaw stuck out and asks childlike questions. Naturally, Gervais - who also writes and directs - denied any such thing, arguing Derek can hold his own against Baldrick, Father Dougal and Mr Bean.

Like The Office, Derek is a mockumentary. The difference this time round is it's not obvious at whom we're supposed to be laughing. The result can be poignant, especially the scenes with Kerry Godliman, who is magnificently understated as put-upon manager Hannah - sometimes almost unbearably uncomfortable.

Tonight Derek's father moves in and is soon batting his eyelashes at the female residents, to his son's horror. Meanwhile, new member of staff Geoff bickers with the caretaker (Gervais's pal Karl Pilkington in ludicrous wig and gigantic NHS specs).

Claire Webb, Radio Times, 23rd April 2014

If MasterChef was about comedy instead of food, it's easy to imagine what John Torode and Gregg Wallace would make of this Ricky Gervais sitcom as it comes back for a second series.

"You've got tinkly piano music and genital warts," John would tell him. "Mate, those two things should never be on the same plate."

To which Gregg would add: "I'm getting the lovely light sweetness of Hannah and Derek, the sharpness of handyman Dougie played by Karl Pilkington, but then all I'm left with is this nasty, sour aftertaste in my mouth from Kev and that grubby pornographic gravy.

"There's a time and a place for sexual language like that and it just doesn't belong in a pudding."

I couldn't have put it better myself.

This week a new member of staff regales Derek with tales of strange creatures that are half-men, half-chimp, and Derek's father, Anthony (Tony Rohr) moves into the nursing home.

It's genuinely heart-warming to see him getting to know his son better.

Even if he is more interested in getting acquainted with all the female residents.

Jane Simon, The Daily Mirror, 23rd April 2014

Here's what Kerry Godliman and Holli Dempsey had to say about becoming a 'double act', working with Ricky and the public reaction to their characters...

Written by Elliot Gonzalez. I Talk Telly, 19th April 2014

In 2010, Time Magazine named him one of the world's 100 most influential people. His latest film is Muppets Most Wanted, and Series 2 of Derek starts on Channel 4 on Wednesday.

Written by Rosanna Greenstreet. The Guardian, 19th April 2014

As the second series of his divisive sitcom Derek hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work - and why he loves his 'sweet and funny' protagonist.

Written by James Rampton. The Independent, 16th April 2014

He spoke so passionately about Derek, a project you can sense he's really proud of.

Written by Elliot Gonzalez. I Talk Telly, 15th April 2014

Ricky Gervais is feeling pretty happy with his lot. As his surprisingly heart-warming mockumentary Derek returns to Channel 4 for a second series, Gervais explains his upbeat mood.

Written by Emma Saunders. BBC News, 15th April 2014

Somewhere between David Brent and Derek Noakes - around Andy Milman time - Ricky Gervais started to make the jump from cynicism and irony to kindness and honesty. It's a jump that not all fans of The Office have found easy to make.

Written by Julian Hall. Chortle, 15th April 2014

"Derek is perfect. He doesn't get stressed by things. I've got a lot in common with him because he's based on me when we were about eight."

Written by Mark Jefferies. The Daily Mirror, 10th April 2014

Ricky Gervais has revealed he is 'all for' euthanasia - and hopes it will be as easy as popping into Boots for a tablet when his time comes.

Written by Graham Wray. The Mail Online, 5th April 2014

The debate this time isn't about whether Ricky Gervais is mocking people with learning difficulties, it is whether his portrayal of innocent, saintly, simple soul Derek Noakes has any connection whatsoever with reality.

Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 4th April 2014

The writer and star of the Channel 4 comedy reveals he will do "a special, at least" to follow the second series set to air from 23 April.

Written by Susanna Lazarus. The Radio Times, 28th March 2014

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