Derek - In The Press
Main News Stories About 'Derek':
Ricky Gervais and 'Derek': A defence
Derek, which comes out on DVD this week, is perhaps the bravest move of Gervais' career so far.
Written by Ed Cripps. The Huffington Post, 10th November 2013
Ricky Gervais interview
An interview with Ricky Gervais to promote Derek being shown on Netflix in the US.
Written by Lacey Rose. Hollywood Reporter, 21st August 2013
The emotional response to the show grew steadily each week and the reaction to the finale is still going on. I've never had a reaction like it to be honest.
Not even The Office Xmas Special seemed to have people declaring that they cried their eyes out for the whole episode. Also, what's amazing about the response to Derek is all the admissions like, "I hated it at first and now it's my favourite thing you've done."
I think this may be a reflection of social media too, obviously. People know they are telling me what they feel directly so they want to be honest about a personal response as opposed to a colder critique. I must admit I am most proud of the emotional response to the characters and themes of the show as that was by far the most difficult thing about it.
It was nearly impossible to try to cram as much depth of character and story as The Office or Extras into 7 minutes less each week. I had to use broader brush strokes and cut to the chase. I did this by concentrating on one plot line and one main theme each week. I think the people who liked the show the most, understood this the most.
At the end of the day though, the average person doesn't sit and analyse if, and then why, they liked something or not. I liked it. I laughed. I cried. And that's the end of it for most. And why not? It's entertainment when all is said and done; not philosophy or religion. It filled half an hour and then I watched something else. That's good enough for me.
I started making notes for Series 2 today. So exciting starting again. And daunting of course.
Ricky Gervais, , 18th March 2013
Derek - Series 1 finale review
Derek isn't for me - quite apart from the fact it leans heavily on basic tricks learned from The Office, but hasn't the skill to use them well or progress them, which shows how poorly Ricky Gervais has evolved since 2003.
Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 10th March 2013
Derek: Series 1 - Review
Derek is an odd show - watchable light viewing, always a couple of good lines from Pilkington, charmingly straight-forward in a fraught world, weirdly preoccupied with montages, but I'm not sure it's saying anything much, or possibly even at all.
Written by Nick Bryan. The Digital Fix, 7th March 2013
For the finale, Ricky Gervais takes the soppy undercurrents of this series and makes them a gushing torrent. A care home resident dies, which provides an excuse for the characters to deliver homilies and reflections on their lives to an imaginary interviewer. "When I does nice things, I feels nice. And when I does bad things, I feels bad," Derek explains helpfully. Even lairy drunk Kevin gives a lecture on the importance of not taking shortcuts in life, as the best shortcut is kindness.
There's barely a joke in the whole thing, but infuriatingly there are also hints of how well Gervais can write when he's not taking shortcuts himself. Worst shortcut of all: swamping scene after scene with Coldplay - again.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 6th March 2013
So sentimental is the final episode of Ricky Gervais's care home-set comedy that it's easy to think the whole thing is spoofing itself. The death of elderly resident Lizzie turns the team at Broad Hill introspective and we get their soundbite views on God and the meaning of life. Occasional moments of humour (mostly from Karl Pilkington's put-upon Dougie) are outweighed by cloying cod philosophising. To top it all, a maudlin reunion between Derek and his dad, an alcoholic, is sound-tracked by crashing chords from Coldplay. Channel 4, meanwhile, announced this week that there will be a second series.
Toby Dantzic, The Daily Telegraph, 5th March 2013
This week brought perhaps the worst episode of Derek yet. A young rapper called Deon (Doc Brown) came to Broad Hill care home to do community service, provoking the expected reaction from characters written by Ricky Gervais: awkwardness around a black man. Mentally vulnerable helper Derek (Gervais) touched Deon's hair and noted that it was curly, while crass drunk Kev (David Earl) tried to appear cool - "Blacks and whites unite!" - but then spoilt it by slagging off the "Chinkies".
Once Gervais had got that off his chest, Deon became a stooge in another sermon about kindness and respect for the aged. He'd turned up, unnerved and repulsed by having to interact with the elderly, just in time for a talent night at the home. Even na´ve Derek would, if watching the show himself, have stood up after ten minutes and said: "Oh Christ, Deon's going to perform a heartfelt rap at the end about how he's changed his mind because the old folk and their carers are so inspiring, isn't he? Clearly he is. Yeech."
Derek would have been right. Deon also chipped in with a speech about how he'd realised that men in the home had fought in the Second World War, and that this trauma was more serious than the things he and his tough mates fight over. Meanwhile Derek confided to the show's unseen documentary-maker, ie directly to us, that he just wanted to make the residents happy, because they didn't have long left and every minute was precious. When Deon had done his rap, Derek said it was brilliant. Deon replied: "Nah. You're brilliant, bruv."
Jealous, snide critics are obsessed with Derek because they find its emotional manipulation so insultingly basic, they wonder how anyone ever concluded that it would work. Has Gervais lost it? Is he lost without Stephen Merchant? They also like to discuss what Derek tells us about Gervais's character: is the whole project an attempt to make us forget when Ricky spent ages unrepentantly using the word "mong" as an insult, because he's realised his apology came too late and his excuses didn't make sense? Tweets and interviews are combed for evidence of a superstar ego gone sour.
On the other hand, Derek's hardcore acolytes - it gets 1m viewers, which isn't great, but isn't as bad as many people hoped - think, in a nutshell, that because compassion is important and care homes should be invested in and celebrated, a show that says this is a good show. Whether the message is unbelievably heavy-handed or not doesn't matter.
Both camps will have looked forward to The Making of Derek (Wednesday C4; 4oD), which went out after this week's episode. It had self-serving scenes that were forgivable in a programme aimed at fans: at one point a series of supporting actors took turns to say how pleasant the show was to work on, and how nice Ricky is.
Gervais himself discussed the character of Derek. "He is kind and sweet and sincere," Gervais said. "So he's got to be scruffy, he's got to walk funny, he's got to have bad hair, he can't be that bright. Because then kindness comes along and trumps it all." Wait a sec. Why does Derek have to be like that? Isn't it a cheap Forrest Gump device to get away with simplistic, greetings-card sentiment, and make a "mong" the hero? No time to unpack that fully, as Gervais moved on to the show itself.
David Brent had a gulf between what he thought he was communicating and what he was really telling us, whereas everyone in Derek says exactly what they think. "That is the difference between this and traditional sitcoms - there's no level of irony, no juxtaposition [sic] between what people say and think and how we perceive them, which makes it sweeter and nicer and different."
Here is the essence of Derek. Gervais thinks he's refining the dramatist's art, not abandoning it, by making his characters bluntly state their agenda (and the show's) at all times. Yes, to most viewers it kills an emotional pay-off stone dead if you head straight there with no twists and turns along the way, but it's done like that intentionally.
It's almost as if Derek the programme is like Derek the character: completely guileless and hopeless at the task in hand, but well intentioned. The trouble is, it's a plea for sensitivity by a man with a long and ongoing record of insensitivity. Much of The Making of Derek was taken up with ribbing Karl Pilkington, who is actually the best thing about Derek by far but was now back to playing his character from An Idiot Abroad, ie an object of Gervais's laughing, vaguely bullying ridicule. The jarring sight of Gervais in fits at Pilkington suffering indignities on set, which meant Gervais was dressed as Derek at the time, summed up why Ricky's work will continue to fascinate us, even if it keeps sliding further and further into mush.
Jack Seale, The Radio Times, 3rd March 2013
Derek - Episode 5 review
This episode didn't hit the heights of last week's euphoric beach outing, but, even amid the shambles of the cabaret, the residents laughing at, not with, the "band", rescued by a rap from Deon, the series continues to extend its quiet power, and cement its place in my affections.
Written by Caroline Frost. Huffington Post, 28th February 2013
Lord knows Derek has its ups and downs, but however syrupy or preachy it gets, it's worth watching just for Karl Pilkington's turn as Dougie. The world-weary caretaker doesn't have a lot to do tonight, but one despairing speech he has is worth the price of admission on its own. Dougie is roped in to helping with a cabaret night, the centrepiece of which will be a performance of loutish Kevin's play about Duran Duran, apparently the only thing he cares about besides sex and Special Brew. Meanwhile, a would-be rapper is on community service at the home.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 27th February 2013
Ricky Gervais has courted controversy with his series about a retirement-home worker with learning difficulties. In tonight's episode Broadhill retirement home wants to host a cabaret show and Derek (Gervais) forms an entertainment committee to discuss plans for the evening. Meanwhile, a would-be rapper is on community service at the home. This is followed at 10.35pm by The Making of Derek, in which Gervais and his cast mates Karl Pilkington, Kerry Godliman and David Earl, explain why they made the series. At one point, Gervais becomes quite metaphysical about the whole thing: "The Office touched on existentialism but it touched on the existentialism of being 30. Derek touches on the existentialism of being 90."
Lara Prendergast, The Daily Telegraph, 26th February 2013
Derek and the enigma of Ricky Gervais
Just when I think I've got Ricky Gervais figured out, he undertakes a new project that turns my preconceptions on their head.
Written by Carmen Croghan. Smitten By Britain, 25th February 2013
Opinion: Hang on, Derek is very good after all
When Derek started on Channel 4 a month ago I was fairly indifferent to it. After the controversial one-off last year and the disappointingly broad Life's Too Short it looked as if Ricky Gervais had maybe mislaid his mojo. Four episodes in, however, I'm wondering if he has found it again.
Written by Bruce Dessau. 22nd February 2013
Derek Episode 4 review
So, all in all, a triumph of an episode, apart from the initial foray into autograph-selling, which veered dangerously into meta-Extras territory.
Written by Caroline Frost. Huffington Post, 21st February 2013
I could be wrong but I think the message Ricky Gervais wants us to take away from this episode is that selfishness is a bad thing. It's a sentiment rammed home in every other scene and backed up with nuclear levels of Coldplay. As the old folk go for a trip to the seaside, sweet, selfless Hannah stays behind, because someone has to help a new resident settle in. Then the week's glaring baddie hoves into view as a snooty relative (a former schoolmate of Hannah) daring to sneer at her job.
Would anyone, however self-centred, walk into a care home and sneer at the staff for being failures? Luckily, there are better helpings of comedy at the beach.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 20th February 2013
It's around the time that Coldplay's Paradise is used to soundtrack some guileless hi-jinks on a beach that we seriously start to wonder. Might Derek actually be a spoof, a subtle piss-take of the 'big-hearted', 'down to earth' comedy drama? Because the alternative is too grisly to contemplate.
Derek is so flimsy, it's in danger of floating away on the next light breeze. The music manipulates the emotions shamelessly. Character development is ignored in favour of clunky pieces-to-camera during which we're reminded that yes, Hannah is very kind and yes, Derek is very well-meaning. Meanwhile, the plotting is little more than a delivery mechanism for the kind of moral lessons that Jackanory might have rejected as a touch simple-minded. An increasingly baffling affair - we can't wait for Ricky Gervais's triumphant reveal in ten years time.
Phil Harrison, Time Out, 20th February 2013
There are some lovely moments in Ricky Gervais's gently observed comedy tonight as Derek (Gervais) and the residents of Broad Hill nursing home enjoy a day trip to the seaside with the compliments of the long-suffering Dougie (Karl Pilkington). While they are away attention turns to soft-hearted care assistant Hannah (Kerry Godliman), forced to reconsider her own achievements when an old, and far more successful, schoolmate turns up at the home to her relegate her mother to the sidelines of her life.
Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 19th February 2013
Derek's twinkly music set the scene in the customary manner, for what turned out to be the most striking episode yet.
I don't know about you, but I think I've adapted to the slow not-much-happens nature of these 23-minute tableaus now. The three mini-themes of this week included Derek's discovery of an ailing bird, which meant he called an emergency ambulance and had to be bailed out by one of the residents, someone evidently still inspired by his Cocoon-esque turn on the dance floor last week, but equally surprised actually to be given a line to say by Gervais. Who knows - another resident might get a line in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, it was time for Hannah to reassess her relationship with the frustrated Tom, and take issue with some of resident Marge's grasping relatives, clearly only there to lay claim to the ring she still kept on her finger. Cue Dougie (Karl Pilkington) getting himself into a protective rage: "I want to tell Marge, 'Buy gin, bingo, piss it up the wall, anything just so Shelly can't have it.'"
Every week, to KP, the best lines, and they're in safe hands, as he continues to prove himself a surprisingly effective actor, by just being himself - this week popping into people's rooms to collect stuff for jumble - asking "are they really going to miss that?" as he holds up a plastic Prince Charles.
The central montage was as soft and fluffy as anything we've seen yet, with Derek's tears starting to flow... "I'd rather be sad than anyone else," he says after the loss of Marge.
It's a bit weird, though - while Dougie and Hannah continue to reveal themselves and gradually get under my skin, I find Derek himself becoming less and less central to the theme of the show. It'll be interesting to see how this balance pans out by the end of the series - we're already half-way through.
Caroline Frost, The Huffington Post, 14th February 2013
Kerry Godliman interview
Kerry Godliman on Derek co-stars Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington, and why her career has taken a nosedive...
Written by Steven MacKenzie. The Big Issue, 13th February 2013
What, then of the fictional hero of Derek (Channel 4), who has unspecified learning difficulties? If Ricky Gervais's role in The Office was a masterpiece of the comedy of embarrassment, his title role in Derek is an exercise in sentimental manipulation.
In the third episode last night, Derek, conceived as a perpetually gentle and innocent man, stumbled around the care home where he works, while the rapacious daughter of an old lady who lives there counted the days till her death so she can get hold of her diamond ring. What happened to the ring was the plot line, but Derek kept coming round again for us viewers to feel sorry for him, while a piano soundtrack played sad music.
Gervais stuck to the single note of pathos, wandering about with a moribund fledgling chick in his hand or wailing, "I love working here but I'm always sad," as another old woman died.
Other characters trotted by as one-trick ponies. The care assistant Hannah (Kerry Godliman) is another Dawn from The Office; Kev (David Earl) is addicted to self-deluding sexual boasting. Dougie the handyman (Karl Pilkington with funny hair) is there to give people their comeuppance.
As an exponent of look-at-me humour, Ricky Gervais has come to rival Doris Day or Lucille Ball. His master in sentimentality, though, must be Norman Wisdom, who at least varied his appeal by a bit of energetic slapstick. In Fifties terms Norman was "a bit simple"; Derek, in today's social-work-speak, is "vulnerable" - which actually makes him invulnerable to audience criticism. It would be like kicking the Andrex puppy.
Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, 13th February 2013
The occasional glimpses of the brilliant show Derek could have been come together tonight. It's the funniest episode so far, mainly thanks to generous helpings of Karl Pilkington. His rants as care-home handyman Dougie are delivered with perfect weariness, and tonight's storylines allow his exasperation to boil over nicely.
There's more plot than usual, too: Derek rescues a baby bird and wants Hannah to call Bill Oddie. Hannah's boyfriend Tom is frustrated because she keeps cancelling dates. And elderly resident Marge is visited by her uncaring daughter - tonight's straw baddie. Obviously, everything is a bit spoilt by a soppy music montage (the show's centre is softer than blancmange), but there's a dash of real emotion, too, and at one stage a hilarious meeting of WH Auden and Take a Break magazine.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 13th February 2013
Gross-out sex obsessive Kev is the character who sticks out like a sore thumb in Ricky Gervais's otherwise sensitive comedy drama. But then hitting raw nerves is a Gervais speciality and tonight the odious Kev sets out to persuade Derek to lick a toad. Until a baby bird in need of urgent medical care attracts our ingenuous hero's attention. It all makes for a bizarre mix of the sentimental and the sick-making, with just enough laughter to keep it on track.
Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 13th February 2013
Ricky Gervais's programme continues. Tonight, Derek is played by a sad-eyed puppy in a paper hat. He calls an ambulance when he finds an injured baby bird in the garden, and later there's a death for him to get sad and sweetly confused about. The character of Kev, with his exact mimicking of Gervais's stand-up voice, is a constant reminder of who you're really watching, so it's impossible to feel anything but bowel-twistingly awkward. Gervais playing humble is as convincing as David Cameron eating a pasty.
Julia Raeside, The Guardian, 13th February 2013
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