Derek - In The Press

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

Ricky Gervais has been busy drumming up support for Derek at the National TV Awards and is even offering fans signed DVDs if they vote for the show.

Written by Ann Lee. Metro, 15th January 2014

I don't know what happened to Ricky Gervais, but the grace he earned from The Office has finally run out. Derek is painfully unfunny and misguided in so many ways, but the most galling thing about this so-called comedy is how Gervais has convinced himself it's a significant, important and affective piece of social commentary. It's not. It's just lazy manipulation hiding its sins behind the fact it's ostensible about elderly care in modern Britain. But if that were true, why are the genuine old folks just silent stooges or background extras, as Gervais pulls faces next to grumpy best-mate Karl Pilkington in a comb-over wig? Abysmal. Even the title's font is bad.

Dan Owen, Dan's Media Digest, 23rd December 2013

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

An interview with Ricky Gervais to promote Derek being shown on Netflix in the US.

Written by Lacey Rose. Hollywood Reporter, 21st August 2013

Ricky Gervais' most recent TV series, Derek, is to make its debut on Netflix later this year, it has been announced.

Metro, 22nd May 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 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 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

The series finale of Derek might have been sentimental, but it packed an emotional punch which left you longing for more.

Written by Keith Watson. Metro, 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

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

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

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

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

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